One of my favorite parts of traveling is meeting all the characters that inevitably appear in each visited location. Our flatmates in Auckland are no exception of this. In fact, the whole story of how we got a flat, circles around a familiar character with an interesting story.
Only a few days before we left the US, Tyler and I had no clue where we were staying upon arrival. As he casual scrolled through Instagram on his mother’s couch, he discovered one of his military buddies from a few years back was posting from Auckland, New Zealand. “What are the odds”, we thought. A few texted messages later and this mysterious character had a room in a townhouse for Tyler and I to stay in on our first week abroad.
A quick bus ride from Auckland International landed Tyler and I in a quiet neighbourhood, promising to hold a townhouse with our name on it. As we approached our destination, we looked around curiously as to which building was actually the correct one. Before we could satisfy our own curiosity, we hear a voice behind us bursting out. It was Tyler’s friend, Mack greeting us with a huge grin.
As quickly as we had been discovered, Tyler and Mack began chatting as if they had just seen each other the day before. In between chats Mack alternated between snacking on a fresh pear held in one hand and gulping down a red bull with the other hand. I watched as this monstrously tall character fuelled himself with such a small, insignificant morning meal.
A few minutes later and Mack was bidding us farewell. He was off to work and told us to make ourselves at home in our new room.
That afternoon Tyler and I were introduced to Clifford and his girlfriend Gloria, a French couple also on Working Holiday. They were very sweet and happy to show us around, but only briefly before rushing off to different jobs in different directions.
Tyler and I were merely visitors chatting with these characters interrupting their daily routines. The Iranian couple upstairs was quite cheerful as well, despite their lack of English skills.
Each of our flatmates were fantastically friendly, albeit they were living very different lives than Tyler and I. We had spent everything for the sake of an adventure – we planned to see the whole country, from North to South, experiencing the locals, the countryside, the big cities, the oceans, the flora the fauna and livestock and everything in between. Each destination would only be such for a few moments, and then there would be an entirely new one. The earth was open for us and who were we not to explore it properly?
For this reason, we watched in amazement throughout the week as our flatmates hurried from home to work and back again. Clifford worked three jobs, visiting the flat in between to smoke a cigarette and wash it down with a glass of apple-infused tequila. We’d laugh and joke with him while he did so and he’d carefully give us “local” advice on how to buy the best van and make sure no one ripped us off.
Mack hardly ate at all it seemed. We’d visit with him at night, after he was off work. He’d order fast food through Uber eats, drink a beer with Tyler and then head to bed before the next day started again.
In between talking with our neighbors, Tyler and I were busy doing laundry, purchasing camping equipment and cooking our own delicious, nutritious meals in the interest of saving money.
All in all, we enjoyed our time at the Auckland townhouse, however we really just couldn’t wait to hit the road in our new compadre, VANita.