Broken Down (again)

We now have new brakes and a reconditioned master cylinder on the Bedford. It’s a good mood that takes us over the hills and on to Café Eutopia we spotted on the way up. It’s an eclectic hodge-podge of rounded structures, with outside and inside areas running together and reminds both of us of something out of Dr. Suess. It’s in a town called Kaiwaka (lit. help canoe, or helmsman in Maori) and is known as the “City of Small Lights”. I am agitated by this moniker and am still confused what they might mean by that.

It’s getting late and we’ve made it back through Auckland. I need a rest and we switch seats. There’s a campsite north of Rotorua we want to hit and there’s maybe two hours of driving left and it’ll be a late dinner when we make it. We fill at a BP off the highway and go about another 10 minutes when a hissing emanates from the hood and I sternly tell Erica to pull over and shut off the car. We’ve blown a radiator hose.

Trotting back to the BP station cars honk at me traveling both directions of the motorway. At the station I see there isn’t an auto shop; no hoses to be purchased. As I am walking out I turn around and ask the lady behind me which way she’s heading and explain my plight. I hop in her car (which has a bad radiator leak) and we head back in to town, arriving at the auto shop about one hour after it has closed.

Cathy is the driver’s name and she is a kiwi packing inspector, probably in her late forties. On the way back to the Bedford at its broke-down location she rings up her dad to ask if he might have a hose around. He’s a bit of a tinkerer and fancies the old Bedfords, having one at his place. No luck. Erica and I spend the night on the side of the road, taking some notes of our travels so far to pass the time.

In the morning I strike out again and find a hose. I go to the roadside and stick my thumb out. Erica arms herself with the Leatherman knife and locks all the doors. Nobody is slowing for me. A group of kids go by, they’re yelling something and – oh! – are throwing something, too. I duck to miss the waded paper and murderous thoughts trail through my head. Right behind that a guy in a small car pulls over.

It takes no time to get to the auto store, buy the hose and get back. John, a fireman and recent divorcee, wants to get this over with and watch the All Blacks game starting at 9am and is expediting as much as possible. He even attaches the hose for me and discovers the alternator is loose, probably leading to the overheating and hose busting. As we’re wrapping up Cathy pulls in to see how we fared on her way to a friend’s to watch the game and make sure we’re OK. I wonder if she and John would like… nah. I think I’ll keep my head down.

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