KittyKitty

Our cottage is in the midst of a citrus grove that also has a few avocado trees, and there were fresh oranges on the kitchen table upon our arrival. Audrey, our host also brought some tree-ripened mandarins over later in the week. Our surroundings remind me of where my father lived for a period in Florida, and there was an abandoned citrus orchard in back of his house. It often makes me wonder why it was left untended as the oranges, grapefruit and lemons were plentiful and perfect.

It is late summer here and most of the fruit is gone from the trees, and even though there are some huge tangerines on the trees close to our cottage, the fruit is pretty dry. The mandarins that our host gave us are winter fruit, ripening later in the season.

The weather is unusually dry here in Kerikeri, the small town were we have stayed for over a week. Nevertheless, it is humid as we are close to the Pacific Ocean on the east side of the North Island of New Zealand. The air is filled with a complicated mixture of scents: floral, grass, fruit and the sea. At night the temperature usually drops into the sixties while the daytime highs are in the high seventies to low eighties. It makes it even nicer to know that at home, in Missoula, the weather has been really shitty.

A week ago yesterday we left Auckland after picking up our delayed luggage that had our summer clothing and my drugs. So, it was with some relief that we threw are bags into our rented Toyota Yaris, a little car that drives like a go cart, and took off for the countryside of Northland. It was a bit nerve racking at first, driving on the left side of the road and having the cars coming toward us on what seemed the wrong side of the road. But, after getting to the outskirts of Auckland, the traffic thinned out and there weren’t so many highways from which to choose.

The landscape of the North Island is very unique to us, certainly unlike any that we’ve seen in the US, as there are innumerable stubby hills that make for many steep grades and sharp corners on the roads. Having cruise control on a car seems superfluous when the longest stretch of a straight road is half a mile. At the same time, the speed limit on even the curviest, gravel roads in the rural parts is 100 km/hr. Granted, that is just a little over 60 mph, but it is hard to imagine anyone ripping around some of these small roads at that speed.

Still, we found that the Kiwis are very conscientious drivers. No one seemed to crowd up behind us as they do in the States where if you drive five miles an hour above the speed limit someone in a pickup will be pushing you along with the front bumper. Even on the limited straight stretches very few drivers drove over the speed limit even when there were passing lanes. The only vehicle that we saw stopped by the traffic police was an old stock truck carrying two horses and a couple of cows. The driver was ticketed for embarrassing the horses.

The scenery consisted of thick forests and pastoral farmland and, while we did pass through some showers, most of the trip was in sunlight. But, in spite of the light traffic, beautiful landscapes and leisurely pace of the trip, it took almost five hours to get to Kerikeri (pronounced kitty-kitty), and that was after a rather stressful morning waiting at the airport.

Our cottage is in the midst of a citrus grove that also has a few avocado trees, and there were fresh oranges on the kitchen table upon our arrival. Audrey, our host also brought some tree-ripened mandarins over later in the week. Our surroundings remind me of where my father lived for a period in Florida, and there was an abandoned citrus orchard in back of his house. It often makes me wonder why it was left untended as the oranges, grapefruit and lemons were plentiful and perfect.

It is late summer here and most of the fruit is gone from the trees, and even though there are some huge tangerines on the trees close to our cottage, the fruit is pretty dry. The mandarins that our host gave us are winter fruit, ripening later in the season.

The weather is unusually dry here in Kerikeri, the small town were we have stayed for over a week. Nevertheless, it is humid as we are close to the Pacific Ocean on the east side of the North Island of New Zealand. The air is filled with a complicated mixture of scents: floral, grass, fruit and the sea. At night the temperature usually drops into the sixties while the daytime highs are in the high seventies to low eighties. It makes it even nicer to know that at home, in Missoula, the weather has been really shitty.

A week ago yesterday we left Auckland after picking up our delayed luggage that had our summer clothing and my drugs. So, it was with some relief that we threw are bags into our rented Toyota Yaris, a little car that drives like a go cart, and took off for the countryside of Northland. It was a bit nerve racking at first, driving on the left side of the road and having the cars coming toward us on what seemed the wrong side of the road. But, after getting to the outskirts of Auckland, the traffic thinned out and there weren’t so many highways from which to choose.

The landscape of the North Island is very unique to us, certainly unlike any that we’ve seen in the US, as there are innumerable stubby hills that make for many steep grades and sharp corners on the roads. Having cruise control on a car seems superfluous when the longest stretch of a straight road is half a mile. At the same time, the speed limit on even the curviest, gravel roads in the rural parts is 100 km/hr. Granted, that is just a little over 60 mph, but it is hard to imagine anyone ripping around some of these small roads at that speed.

Still, we found that the Kiwis are very conscientious drivers. No one seemed to crowd up behind us as they do in the States where if you drive five miles an hour above the speed limit someone in a pickup will be pushing you along with the front bumper. Even on the limited straight stretches very few drivers drove over the speed limit even when there were passing lanes. The only vehicle that we saw stopped by the traffic police was an old stock truck carrying two horses and a couple of cows. The driver was ticketed for embarrassing the horses.

The scenery consisted of thick forests and pastoral farmland and, while we did pass through some showers, most of the trip was in sunlight. But, in spite of the light traffic, beautiful landscapes and leisurely pace of the trip, it took almost five hours to get to Kerikeri (pronounced kitty-kitty), and that was after a rather stressful morning waiting at the airport.

I was tired, and I realized at the time, I should have taken a couple of breaks from the wheel, but I wanted to arrive before dark. It was difficult enough to find the cottage in the late afternoon, but it would have been worse looking around for the address after the light was gone.

We had the address, but even driving at a slow 80 km/hr, I managed to drive by the driveway at least twice. In order to turn around it was necessary to drive to the next roundabout that was a quarter mile down the road, remembering to give way to vehicles already inside, and then reckoning when to leave the roundabout. But, eventually I managed to leave the road and drive down the gravel driveway to the Wisteria Cottage where we were booked.

I had the combination for the door, 4801, the number that I’d received from Audrey a few days ago. I was already convinced that it would not work as I have a history with combinations that start with my high school days. And, I was right. The door did not open.

As I mentioned above, I was tired, and now I was getting pissed and expressed myself to Sheila. “This pisses me off,” I said, eloquently.

Looking in a nearby window, I saw clothing lying on a bed. “Jesus Christ,” I said, again eloquently. “There’s someone staying here.”

Then I realized that I was looking in a different, adjoining cottage.

I spotted a window slightly ajar. I suggested to Sheila that I could probably climb in and open the door from the inside. She looked doubtful and suggested that we call the host, Audrey.

I punched in the number listed in my booking communication and got a message reporting that the number was no longer in use, and to call the following number: (muffled words, blah blah blah). We had to listen several times to finally interpret the words only to realize that the new number was the same as the old.

The angry steam in my head was threatening to explode out my ears when I looked at another message that I’d received two weeks prior. It was an apology saying that Audrey had to give us an upgrade to the Rose Cottage just a couple of doors away from the Wisteria, the one I that I was trying to break into.

I gave Sheila a silly grin. She did not smile in return.

Instead, she walked up to the Rose Cottage and punched in the combination, opening the door.

10 thoughts on “KittyKitty

  1. I love it and you writing but somehow you repeated yourself in this post several times but do not fret. Thanks for taking the time to write.

    Like

  2. Jan,
    Don’t beat yourself up. I was reading this and could see myself in your shoes, reacting the same way. You drove. You get an ass-pass. Have fun!
    Steve

    Like

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