January 5th started off on a fairly bright note, if you don't count the 12:30 am wake-up knock by a Kiwi cop telling us we had move along to another parking spot. Julien and I had a leisurely breakfast of eggs, bacon, and toast, while overlooking the Bay of Islands.
We decided to head up to the Karikari Peninsula so Julien could try kite surfing. We picked up two Argentinean hitchhikers on the way. Please note Good Samaritan Act Number One; it will be important to my whinge later on.
We took our time on the road, stopping for a short hike in Whangaroa to see this gorgeous view:
However, once we got up to the peninsula, we realized that the surf school wasn't actually out there. Their brochure just had a phone number, no address, obliging us to call them and either go to meet them somewhere else or wait for them to drive to us. A bit fed up with that silliness, we decided to drive to Ahipara, the beginning of the Ninety-Mile Beach.
Along the way, we picked up two Maori hitchhikers who were having car trouble. Good Samaritan Act Number Two.
In Ahipara, we didn't really fancy getting shifted by the police in the middle of the night, so we were ready to pay 10 NZD for a spot at a beachfront campground. However, when we went back and got ready to park Flea (what we dubbed our campervan), a lady came out and told us it was going to be 20NZD. We told her that was not the price that the owner's niece just quoted us, and she trotted out some bull about that price being for shareholders in the land, blah, blah, blah.
Well, one way to get my goat and get it real quick is to make me feel like I'm being taken for an easy target. So, of course, Julien and I drove off and decided to take our chances with overnighting in a parking lot. We chose one that was well-lit and already had two campervans there. Julien asked the driver of one if it would be okay to stay there, and the guy assured us that it was, that he had already spent four nights with no problems.
Congratulating ourselves for saving 20 bucks, we had supper and settled down to sleep.
I was awoken around midnight by the arrival of a minivan and a black, customized sports car. I don't know how may people piled out of the two vehicles, but they were loud and they were drunk. One guy kept going on to his girlfriend about how no f*cking thing he ever f*cking did was f*cking good enough for her. To which she replied something to same effect with many f*cks thrown in for good measure.
I did my best to ignore them, but I heard sounds like someone was prowling around Flea. Like a nosy old woman, I kept pulling back the curtains and checking the perimeter as it were. I never saw anyone near the van, though, and I decided just to pull my sleeping bag back over my head and do my best to ignore them. After all, I told myself, no one will try to break into our van while there are so many people around.
The sleeping-bag-over-the-head trick didn't work very well, and I was just standing up to shut the air vent on the top of the van when I heard a loud thump-crack. The sports car spun into motion and donuted around to fly off into the night. The foul-mouths piled back into their minivan and charged up the road, too. All the sudden, out of the black, comes a man in a green tshirt, pelting down the road after them. A few seconds later, two more guys followed. I thought at the time that maybe they had gone off to urinate and their friends, thinking it was funny, took off and left them.
When I checked the front of the van, however, I saw why they had truly left: Someone had busted our windshield.
The three guys came back up the road, laughing and texting on a cell and carrying beers. Figuring they were as drunk as the last lot, I didn't ask them what had just happened. Julien, exhausted and still sleepy, was in favor of going back to bed and dealing with the problem the next day, but I didn't understand how he thought I was going to be able to fall asleep.
We ended up calling 111 and I reported the incident. The dispatcher said someone would be on the scene shortly. Before anyone arrived, she called back and asked for some confirmation about the car. Apparently, the patrol car was leaving the station just as the guilty party was passing in front of it.
They weren't able to stop them right away, but small town and all that, from my descriptions, they knew exactly who had been in the cars. They asked us to come back the next day and make a statement at the station, but they told us it would be difficult to do anything to the "mongrels."
Knowing we had done the best we could and that the jerks wouldn't be coming back, I was able to sleep. The next morning was a joy of phone calls to the rental company, our insurance, repair shops. Working with the shop that our rental company usually goes with would have been cheaper, but it would have blocked us in the area for 4 days. We ended up having to pay 100NZD more than we should have to have the windscreen fixed. The insurance is supposed to pay us back, though.
At 4pm, we went to give our statement to the police. However, without us being able to say, "This guy here was the one who who busted my windshield," and without the possibility to either stay in the country until they go to court or to come back if they don't plead guilty and claim responsibility, we didn't have any ground to stand on.
Hayden, one of the policemen who took our case, and his team handled it just perfectly, though. They got the guilty guy to come in and offered him the easy way or the hard, and thankfully, he chose the easy,* probably believing that we could ID him and were willing and wanting to press charges. He ended up bringing 250NZD to the station, which the police are mailing to us, and that will go a little ways toward making up for our lost day even if it won't cover the 370NZD that the repairs actually cost us.
So, are we happy campers or are we not?
Happy enough, I'd say. We're both safe and hale and have so many blessings it takes a while to count them all.
Oh, wait. I forgot to whinge. *lol* Well, I'll just leave it to your imagination, but yeah, I did feel a bit like, "Why us? Don't we try to be good people and help others out?"
Life just doesn't roll that way. We don't always get like for like. No reason for it, just wrong place, wrong time.
*According to him, he never meant to hit Flea. He was aiming at the guy in green, with whom there is bad blood. I can buy that; apart from the sounds of someone around our van, I didn't feel threatened or targeted.