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the last two weeks

There were volcanoes, killer whales, beaches, bars, picnics and mountains…and then we were back in Auckland. Kelli’s two weeks: hopelessly inadequate, but still a wonderful opportunity to share a place that I love with someone that I love. Someone that I STILL love, two weeks later, despite the fact that she thinks I’m a dirty hippie and I think she’s a decadent consumer. Ah, the beauty of compromise.

Here’s a brief sampling of the points of difference between Kelli and Susan…

Picnics: “What do you mean you don’t want to use my Swiss army knife to cut the cheese? I swear I rinsed it in the lake the last time I used it!”

Beaches: “UGH! This is – ew! Gross! My feet are SINKING! Bleugh! It’s like quicksand! Augh! This is disgusting!”
“Kelli, it’s SAND and WATER!”

Shells to Susan = beautiful treasure. Shells to Kelli = dead animal carcasses.

Susan staying in private rooms at backpackers for NZ$60 or less = huge splurge.
Kelli doing the same = roughing it.

Despite the differences, the trip was by all accounts a success. I ate out at restaurants and went shopping, Kelli went a day or two without showering and hiked up mountains; we each made sacrifices and stepped out of our comfort zones, and we parted at the Auckland airport on Sunday evening, still friends, still smiling.

While Kelli soared off into the darkening sky, I turned around and drove back to the city, my smile fading into an expression of determination and resolve. It was time to sell Dr. Gonzo. Insert ominous music here. This was Sunday. Since then, I’ve papered the city’s backpackers with fliers, placed classified ads, entered an online auction, called dozens of classic car clubs and spent three days camped out at a dim, depressing garage with other backpackers in the same dire straits. “We’re leaving the country in __ days. Won’t you buy our car?? Please? Pretty please?” They call it the Backpackers Car Market, but at this time of year, it resembles less of a market than it does a hospital waiting room. I sit in the uncomfortable chairs next to the half-empty vending machines, listlessly passing the time trying to read and losing focus, talking idly with other backpackers from Germany, Slovenia, Israel, Czech, Luxembourg, South Africa, Netherlands, USA, playing long, drawn out rounds of “Nominations”. We sellers sit near the door like starving lions, ready to pounce on anyone who walks in wanting to buy, growling territorially at each new competitor who drives their car or van into the garage, reducing our chances of selling our own vehicles by one more degree. The air is thick and heavy with dashed hopes.

Today is Friday, and I am still in possession of one “Reliable, Well-kept 1980 Toyota Grande – $1,000 O.N.O”. I love my car, but at this point I will be quite wrapped (Kiwi slang = excited) to see the back of it. The good side of the whole thing is that I’m getting to spend a week with Graham (my former boss from the Godley Resort in Lake Tekapo) and his wife and his wee dog. That fantastic Kiwi hospitality stays true, even to the end. It’s going to be hard to leave this country.

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