I guess when you travel, and trying to buy cars off of locals, your bound to meet some characters. Well I had one of the most interesting experiences during my quest for wheels. I’ll keep it as short as I can….
So I have been looking at like 30 vans a day online and contacting the various owners, trying to get info and attempting to pursued them to come to me for a viewing / test drive. So as per my request an owner ringed up and said he could meet me at my hostel. I looked up the number in the car listings I have flagged, saw that it was a smaller version van, not really what I was looking for, but I figured l might as well give’er a look.
About 6:30 pm, a monster of a van (equivalent to a big luxury conversion van in the US) pulls up, catching me totally off guard. Guess I got the numbers mixed up. Out gets a kid about 18-19 and his mom and dad. Talking a language I haven’t heard since I’ve been here, (I’ve heard a lot). Turns out they where Czech. But the crazy surprise was that in the back of the van, sitting in the huge back seat was a Maouri (native New Zealander) woman. As I go about my routine pre-drive vehicle check, she starts to yell (in that grandmother-ish way)(incert funny kiwi accent here) “just get in and drive it.” I then informed her that I am not comfortable driving on the “wrong” side of the road yet. So she yells back, “get in, we will head back to my place, its out in the country, you can have tea and take it for a drive.” So, I figure, what the hell, can’t be that far……1.5 hours later,…..its that far.
On the drive out, I find out that this Maouri women has been picking lost tourist up of the side of the road for years, taking them back to her place and giving them a free place to stay and a completely locals view of her land. She uses her horse ranch as a sort of make shift hostel and is a sort of Big Moma, Mother Theresa type. The house is totally run down, kinda like one of the makeshift shack farm houses that I grew up around. In the back yard there is a 50 foot steel hull yacht in total disrepair, that was inherited from an uncle, a few sheds and the bathroom is separate from the house. No hot water, and a few cluttered rooms finished off the main quarters.
After dinner…..yes dinner, and tea, I was offered a spot for free in her house, use of her tools and lumber (for making a van into a camper van) and help finding another van if this one isn’t to my liking. She also offered to show me how to shop cheap and to have her daughter give me a tattoo symbolizing her tribe. I might just get one! Along with all that a summer trip is planned to the very north of the north island (to a place called 90 mile beach)(why mile when they use klm…beats me?) where we will visit her family and ride horses. I believe I will take her up on her offers, as when generosity is thrown your way, its seems foolish not to enjoy it…..
So about mid night she drives me back to my hostel in Auckland, I assure her that I will call early with an offer on the van.
The next day, I negotiated all day with the Czech guy to try and buy the van, he didn’t want to negotiate, so I walked away…..even though it was a great van. We’ll see what happens with that. I guess the way I’m going to look at this situation is that I wasn’t suppose to buy the van, but I was suppose to meet her.