Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Hitchhiking in rural settings

Warrington, Otago

Yesterday, I did something I used to enjoy on a more regular basis - stick my thumb out. I last hitched three years ago and ended up catching a bus. I set off yesterday with no conscious memory of catching that bus. It only came to me just now as I began to compose.
I left my house. I began walking from my house to the main highway - I think it took fifteen minutes but I can't be sure. I never like hitching if there is any hint of ambiguity. By that I mean before you get to the main highway people don't know which way you're going so people don't stop. I decided because of the timing involved (I was already late) that I would exercise my thumb. I noticed that both my hands were purple. I think I'd better get my circulation checked. Anyway I smiled politely at a few cars that passed but no-one made any obliging stops to see where I was going.

I therefore ended up at the main south highway where the cars and lorries flash by at 100 kilometres per hour and greater (Surely not - we're a law abiding society - Ed).
Really, really late now and with nothing else to do but turn my head away from the violent winds generated by the vehicle type domestic and heavy industrial, I did a little dance and sang snatches of revivalist meeting songs - favoured by me, as indeed is a well written story-telling country and western song.
There I was singing 'fifty miles of elbow room' when a car stopped. The driver was only going to Waitati and in a fit of desperation I agreed to accept the lift. Given the time constraints I would argue for thanking the driver politely and wait for a lift that is actually going straight to the destination. The great City of Dunedin beckoned, waiting anxiously for my safe arrival. The driver was surprised when I told him I lived in Warrington. He'd never seen me before which would be unusual in a village this size. However he relaxed when I told him my address and a couple of people I knew there.

Waitati was a perfect hitching place. For a start you can only walk so far from the town limits, which means you don't end up strolling the entire distance to journey's end as one often does when one is a beginning hitcher. It is good when decisions are made for you like that. One glorious and only time in France I was a hitchhiker and regularly walked down motorways as I did not know what 'interdit' meant. Schoolboy French is useless in real world situations:

me: Bonjour. Une coca-cola s'il vous plait.
roadside vendor: Eh?
me: Une coca-cola s'il vous plait.
roadside vendor: Eh? (accompanied by a real Gallic shrug - talk about stereotypes)
me: Umm, une bouteille de coca-cola (point at commodity with Irish digit)
roadside vendor: Ah, oui - une cock (well that's what it sounded like)

Where was I? Oh yes, Waitati. I got a lift from Waitati straight to Dunedin. That is to say the driver wasn't just going 2K down the road to see his auntie. He was going right into Dunedin and that saved my slice of dead pig. A nice young chap he was, and Australian to boot who had nothing but good things to say about New Zealand.

The point of all this? Hitching can be fun and great exercise for the elderly.

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