Our time in Cooks Beach has come to an end and we are making our way back to the South Island. We have spent a very lovely 5 weeks here that has allowed us to get a pretty good feel for the Coromandel Peninsula. It is lovely. We were a bit constrained in our ability to get out and about see some of the northern parts because (a) the car the dealer gave us as a loaner was a complete POS and not much fun to drive and (b) Romy was less than thrilled driving around with us in the car. When we drove up to Kūaotunu it was tough on her old hips getting in and out of the car and kind of scared the poop out of her…..literally.
The party’s over
It’s time to call it a day
They’ve burst your
And taken the moon away
It’s time to wind up
Just make your mind up
The piper must be paid— Shirley Bassey
We ended up doing a lot of walking up and down the beach, right across the street from the house. It was a great 5 km walk down to the end and back. I could see doing that every day and never getting tired of it. I also ended up riding my bike a lot and Road 309 became my go-to ride. I became the Strava local hero for that climb! It did involve taking the damn Whitianga Ferry every time which is, as stated earlier, the most expensive form of transport on the planet making even a ride on Jeff Bezos’ Penis Spaceship seem cheap.
It is interesting traveling around thinking about where we want to live and talking to Kiwis about it. You get all sorts of opinions. About the only thing that everyone seems to agree on is that we should definitely not live in Hamilton. Poor Hamilton. The South Island gets dinged for being cold. The North Island gets dinged for being crowded and expensive. It will be hard decision, and we will keep looking. But everyone has been excited about our journey and super welcoming.
The other thing we get asked a lot by people back in the States is “has been what you expected and have you found what you are seeking?” The thing that I knew was true is that the Kiwis were awesome and I loved their view on life. That has not disappointed. Almost everyone always invites us to come stay with them, use their bach, or some other form of amazing hospitality. Conversations are always fun and easy to start. That has exceeded our expectations. The only real complaint is the cold houses, but I’ve ranted about that a lot already, so I’ll move on.
In terms of the finding what we were seeking, I have found that a difficult question to answer. In so many regards we came here not seeking anything in particular. We wanted to just be and let the world present opportunities and challenges to us. I think overall, we have done that well and it is a liberating experience. I have felt the physical changes (in a good way) in myself that come from living a life that is more set in the present. So many years of rat race takes a hidden toll on you that is hard to see until you are away from it. That said, we have been nomading for over a year now and I think both of us are getting ready to set some roots down for a while.
A true test of my new zen-like state came when I called Keith, the service manager at Mr. Motors, to find out the status of Otis. He informed me that they couldn’t find the part (CVT clutch system) and the transmission guy thought it would be OK to just “tweak” it and proposed that they just do some additional service until they could get the part at some later date. I couldn’t help myself and my pushy American came out so I informed Keith that “No, that is not OK!” After all, we had driven the car in from Hawkes Bay on a prior occasion, and they had not replaced the part at that time, and now again from Cooks Beach. We had given them plenty of opportunities to make it right and plenty of time to procure the part! He groused and said he would mail the part to someone in the South Island when they got it. I was very irritated. We took Romy out for a walk….well really with Romy it is always a very slow amble…. and I stewed.
I finally decided it was time to elevate my car issue. After Susanne and I read up on the ins and outs of the law on used cars in New Zealand, I called the sales guy and said that he sold me a lemon and I wanted my money back. He gave me his boss’s number. I called Kim and told him I wanted my money back. He said he would get back to me after talking with Keith. He did. Then he said they had made it urgent to get the part we needed. I said if it wasn’t ready by the 15th, they would have to give us our money back. I was being a really pushy American, but to his credit he listened. The next day he called and said they found a part. Whew. But WTF?! Why did I have to go through so much agony. Anyway, it was still stressing us out, but at least there was now hope and I had the boss man’s number.
We started getting ready for Anne and Geoff’s return and packing up our stuff. I was going to have to drive to Auckland and return the POS loaner car, get Otis, and drive back. Ugh. I was not looking forward to that. I kept hassling Kim. They would get the car fixed just to get rid of me! I pinged Anne and Geoff and told them our plans and found out that they were coming back a day earlier than we thought. If we could get everything into the POS vehicle then we could save the “out and back and out” drive. The biggest issue was the bike: Otis has a hitch now for the bike rack, but POS loaner did not, so we would need to fit the bike AND the rack inside the car. Susanne was skeptical, but I was optimistic. I tested my packing scheme, and by breaking the bike down (removing both wheels, the pedals, and the handlebars) we managed to get everything in! Yeah!!!
Anne and Geoff showed up mid-day and we chatted with them for a while, we said our goodbyes and headed out to get Otis. They were so nice to us and their house had been a great place to hang out for 5 weeks. Not only did we get a lovely place to stay while taking care of the Pushy Princess, we also got some new Kiwi friends in the deal.
We got to Auckland and walked into the office to get the keys for Otis. Keith was there and clearly not thrilled to see me and even more thrilled to see me go. We drove around listening for “the squeak” and the other strange revving noises that had alerted us to the transmission problem, and we didn’t hear them! Otis seems to be fixed!
On to the next adventure!