With all my depressing musings yesterday, I dug myself into a slippery pit of despair. However, in hitchhiking away from my problems (and responsibilities), I found a saviour, a solution and a wonderful end to the day.

Early this morning, I packed two bags with the basics that I need to look after myself and Elijah. David didn’t sleep with me in the truck, so he was unaware of my plans, and I didn’t speak them to him, afraid that I would chicken out on hitchhiking to Auckland!

I had spoken with Aisha about my intentions to leave and perhaps spend some time in a “safe” place. I asked her who she thought would be safe persons for me to visit. Very sweetly, she replied, “Your sisters”. Yes, I’m blessed that I can go to my sisters’ any time, and also to my dad’s, although I would really love to visit my sister-by-another-mother in California if money wasn’t an issue!

Soon after the sky lightened, I said goodbye as quickly as I could and walked out onto the road. It was raining lightly and I held an umbrella over myself and Elijah as I put out my thumb to the vehicles that were heading into town.

I haven’t had a lot of experience with hitchhiking, but we regularly pick up hitchhikers, and I’ve heard many positive stories about this miraculously free way of moving about the country. So I was scared to hitchhike but also a bit excited about trying something new.

As I stood in the rain, two cars drove by without stopping. Of course they would have seen me — a beacon of red with a baby strapped to my front. I’m not exactly inconspicuous. But I blessed them as they passed, trusting that the right car would stop. At the same time, I kept looking back up the road, hoping David would come running down the road to save me from my own foolishness.

And a car did stop, driven by a local young woman I had never met before. Ashleigh has grown up in the area and was driving all the way down to Auckland to attend university classes.

I’m still amazed that I got one ride all the way to Auckland. I had prepared myself for a long, rainy day of standing on the side of the road in multiple locations as I made a slow passage south. Instead, I sat alongside Ashleigh and listened to her stories of growing up in Honeymoon Valley as she drove straight to the city.

Ashleigh loves Northland and told me about many fantastic places to visit that I haven’t yet seen. Her enthusiasm is infectious, and it transformed my attitude to our situation here in New Zealand.

Instead of trying to escape our stuckness by simply fleeing the circumstances, I decided to buy a van so we can continue our adventures — albeit perhaps on a smaller scale. With the help of our rapidly-haemorrhaging savings, we can purchase a cheap vehicle for the interim. Instead of week-long outings, we can do day-trips in a van and return to the truck to sleep. This is how “normal” families have outings, isn’t it?

Ashleigh Chadwick, May 2012
I feel so blessed in having met Ashleigh. Not only did I reach Auckland in one, quick ride, but I also heard stories of many of local points of interest that we haven't yet visited!

We reached Auckland soon after noon, less than five hours after I had left David and the girls at Peria. Although I had written a note for David, he still hadn’t found it by this time, and here’s his reaction to my departure:

Upon arriving in Auckland, I settled myself in the Central City Library where I immediately looked online for vans for sale. Most of New Zealand’s classified and auctions are found on Trade Me. Interestingly, Ebay has never been the dominant online shopping site here.

When I found a van that I thought was suitable, I had to work out a way to view it. And reach it. Using public transport. In a big city. (Gulp.) Oh, yes, I forgot — with my luggage which consists of a large backpack and a big hessian bag. And a baby strapped to my bosom. (Double gulp.)

Contacting the owner was quite easy. John had left his email address in a response to a feedback rating, so I sent him and email — and he was online! He replied right away, saying the van was available for viewing today, and the address meant it was within walking distance from the city.

When I mentioned that I was on foot, John suggested that I catch a certain bus from a certain location and get off at his road. It was all too easy.

The van is sweet, it goes well, and I was able to negotiate to buy the van (although I don’t actually have the money) and still sleep in it for the nights that I need accommodation until I can withdraw all the money from the money machines. I have a limit on my card which means it’ll take several days for me to the hoard the amount I need to purchase the vehicle.

After our negotiations were complete, John dropped me off at K Road near the city centre. I love visiting K Road, and now that I know which bus to catch, and where I’ll be spending the night, it’s fun to go out on the town and find something to eat!

K-Road, Auckland, May 2012
It's fun to be in the city again! This is K Road, a great place for finding cheap eats, ethnic accessories and vintage clothing.

Late this evening, I was able to phone David and the girls and let them know that I have bought a vehicle and will be returning to them soon. I told Aisha that I may be away for a week because it’ll take me a while to complete the vehicle purchase and then perhaps I’ll do a bit of sightseeing, hmmm….?

To think that this morning I woke with tears at the thought of our predicament. Now I’m smiling with glee. Truly, each day is more magnificent than the next, and each trial leads to greater triumphs! (Now if only I can remember this when I next experience a grey day…)

I’m in heaven again — and I hitchhiked to get here!