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Adventures of the Soul, Part Three: the Remarkables

Updated on January 27, 2013

One perspective

A Way Made

From Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, the travelers rode the ferry to the south island. Kati had grown hungry for cheese and bread. With no grocery stores in sight and the pair on foot and weighted by backpacks, they could not see an opportunity for satisfying her appetite.

The couple went to the roadside and put out their thumbs in the direction of Christchurch. A tour van stopped. The driver had just dropped off his passengers from a day outing and was headed home. He would go right past their destination for the night, in another 300 kilometers, and insisted he would bring them to their campsite.

As they traveled into open countryside, the tour guide stopped for a break from the road. He opened the back end of the van and set an ice chest on the rocks, saying, “All this is left from our picnic today. I had planned for more people. Take all you can eat. Otherwise, it will just be thrown away.” The chest was filled with a variety of quality home-baked breads and home-made cheeses.

Moments like these were magical. Still, the couple had come to New Zealand under some misconceptions about free and low cost camping and were feeling a need for steady income, which required a work permit. For one permit they were too old and another type would take several weeks to process. They could get a legitimate permit through an agent, but it required a credit card, which they did not have.

In the Christchurch square, they talked about their options while waiting for the permit-issuing office to open. A young woman sitting on the steps nearby overheard their conversation and said, “My boyfriend knows how you can get a job. He’ll be here any minute.”

Her friend appeared, she filled him in, and he said to the couple, “That’s right. There is a laundry plant in Queenstown that will help you get the permit and will hire you on the spot. They need workers. I am working there myself. We’d give you a ride but we’re headed the other direction first."

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Queenstown, New Zealand. Used by permission.
Queenstown, New Zealand. Used by permission.
Queenstown, New Zealand. Used by permission.

The couple thanked them for the tip and said they would find their way. They walked to a bakery and sat at a table with a piece of cardboard and a marker pen and wrote “Queenstown.” They were starting on a second sign for hitching when an observing customer said, “Hey, I am going that way. If you give me about twenty minutes, I will come around and pick you up.” Perfect timing.

The second ride was with a young “alternative-lifestyle” couple and their hearty baby boy, in a camper van. The young man had blistered feet, too painful to work the gas and brake pedals, and the woman had been driving for hours. They asked if the writer would mind taking the wheel. It was his first experience with driving in a left-sided country, and he felt a heightened awareness on the road. That night they all camped on a high rock ledge under the starry sky.

The final leg of that journey was on foot, and the pair felt every step. In New Zealand’s summertime the noon day sun was blistering. They made it to their job interview on time and left their backpacks at the door. They glanced one more time at the mountain range, called 'the Remarkables,' before entering.

Their weeks of working with the people of the laundry plant were remarkable in many ways. The travelers enriched break times with their stories of trust in the innate goodness of human beings. At the end, the employees gathered round for hugs. Even a tough gal who threw dirty laundry in her fellow workers' faces had tears in her eyes. A sturdy manager with misty eyes said with deep longing, "I wish I was going with you."

What was it really that he wished for?

Adventures of the Soul

Part One tells of the writer's return to America from Spain with his partner and their hitchhiking to northern Georgia. In the wee hours of the morning, four Georgia sheriffs relayed the couple across county lines to their destination.

Part Two tells the beginning of the writer's odyssey in New Zealand with his partner as people stop spontaneously to give the couple rides from Auckland to Wellington and receive gifts of insight and a poem.

Part Three continues the writer's journey in New Zealand with his partner as they are given remarkable rides to Christchurch and Queenstown, with marvelously magic moments and life lessons on the way.

Part Four concludes the hitchhiking saga with the story of a ride given to a man who had left his troubled life for a new beginning. The writer gave the hundred mile ride in a mountain snowstorm and lived to reflect on it.

Were the travelers and the people who gave them rides taking unacceptable risks compared to the value of the experience?

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