Jacquie came home from a 12-hour shift one day, completely fatigued.
“Man, I’m knackered,” she said. “I could sure use a holiday.”
“I know what you mean,” I said. “Updating a blog every six weeks makes you forget how important it is to stop and smell the roses once in a while.”
We decided then to take up Jacquie’s sister and brother in-law’s offer to let us stay at their holiday home, or “bach.” The word is pronounced “batch” and comes from “bachelor’s pad” because a bach is typically small and modest, just like a bachelor. Indeed, a bach can be nothing more than a mobile home with a deck built around it, but as with houses in general, baches can range from ramshackle lean-to to palatial extravagance. A lot of New Zealanders, in any event, grow up aspiring to one day own a lean-to.
My in-laws’ bach is in a town called Tairua (a Maori word meaning “two tides”) on the Coromandel Peninsula, a two hour drive from Auckland. Any trip longer than 30 minutes is a challenge to our car, to say nothing of my attention span.
I took the car to be inspected by the Automobile Association, similar to AAA in the States, but with its own chain of full-service garages. I parked in a corner of the lot not in direct view of the main office and I went inside. The cashier/manager recited the list of things the mechanics would do to the car.
“We will check the oil and then add as much oil as it needs,” she said. “Afterwards, we can turn the engine over for five minutes to prevent sedimentation for an extra $12.”
I thought, “Won’t I turn over the engine as soon as they finish anyway? What nerve. Any reason to squeeze extra money from you.”
“That sounds great,” I said.
I went for a coffee but then I realized that I hadn’t told the manager where I’d parked the car. I had visions of her trying to contact me to no avail because I hadn’t left her my cell phone number. I went back to the office to make sure she knew where I’d parked.
“We know where your car is,” the manager said.
I thought, “How condescending and rude.”
“Thank you,” I said.
As it turned out, our car failed its semi-annual Warrant of Fitness inspection. It needed a whole new brake system. But Jacquie and I didn’t think we would use brakes on our drive so we decided not to get them fixed ever. With due-diligence out of the way, it was time to go home, pack up and say goodbye to our house.
We drove down on the Monday after Easter, against the holiday crowd. In New Zealand, Easter is the final adieu to summer, sort of like Labor Day weekend in the US. Many businesses close from Good Friday to the following Tuesday. Some shops take advantage of this temporary monopoly by adding a surcharge to their prices. Jacquie drove and I sat in the passenger side and drove too. Chester came with us. Here are some photo highlight of our four days away.