I was driving home on Tuesday night after a long day at work. The sky was golden, you know that perfect time in the evening before the sun goes down and you watch as the gnats and moths start filling the afternoon air, and they look beautiful as they dance in the light. I turned off the main highway to head home, and came around the corner to see a man and a woman hitch-hiking. Now, I don’t often stop for hitch-hikers because I’ve heard the horror stories and seen too many scary movies to think that it’s a good idea, but today I was in such a good mood that I thought I’d do another good deed for the day.
As I pulled over, I could see that the man and woman were happy as could be, despite the fact that they were on the side of the road with all of their groceries and their smile only grew larger as I pulled alongside them and wound my window down. “Hi, my name’s Ike, where are you off to”? No need to ask if they needed a ride, they weren’t hanging out on the side of the road for the fun of it. “Thank you so much for stopping”! Came their reply, “We’re just trying to get home, up the road a little bit”. “Sure, climb on in, I’ll give you a ride home”. And with that, they started bundling in their several bags of grocery shopping and a small LPG gas tank.
“I’m Hori, and this is my partner Skylar” said the man who looked to be in his mid to late thirties, seated in the passenger seat beside me. “Thank you so much for your kindness”. I could tell immediately that these were humble people, just grateful that someone had stopped their journey to help them continue theirs. I pulled out on to the road, and we continued chatting as we headed east. Skylar and Hori had been in to town to do their weekly shop. I was very curious about their circumstance, and they were kind enough to share with me on the trip home.
Skylar and Hori live on his family land, as ‘kaitiaki’ or, guardians, and they live a very simple life. As we turned off the main highway and on to a gravel road, naturally my mind started to wander with a little bit of unease, especially as we began to head in to woods and the gravel road narrowed into only slightly larger than a single lane, marked with potholes galore. The more I spoke with them, the more envious I felt of their life, tucked away in the woods living as simply as could be. I’ve become so tethered to the world with my technology and internet that I forget what it’s like to live a simple existence, but these were two of the happiest people that I’ve met on my new adventures here in the Bay of Plenty.
Skylar and Hori farm koura (fresh water crayfish), and as they proceeded to tell me how grateful they were for my kindness they mentioned that they would bring a bag of koura to me. I told them that it wasn’t necessary, because by the end of our miniature road trip I actually felt as lucky to come across them as they had, me. We drove about fifteen minutes, and came to a point where the road started getting thinner and suddenly we were by the lake and they mentioned that I could turn around there. I felt a little confused because I hadn’t recalled going past any driveway, but they insisted that we had gone right past it.
I turned the car around and we back-tracked around 50 metres and they said ‘here it is’. I still couldn’t see what they were referring to as their driveway. They pointed it out, and as I looked out my window, right next to the car I could see a steep trail of steps that went down in to the bush and within ten metres was engulfed in the trees! Had they not pointed it out, there’s no way that I would have seen it. It turns out that the steps lead down on to a strip of bush covered land with water on either side, and a ten minute walk takes them to an island of sorts which is the land and house that hori has inherited and guards to this day as his family has before him.
Hori and Skylar gathered their belongings out of my car and again thanked me for my kindness and promised that they would come and visit me at my workplace. As I watched them trudge into the bush I thought how thankful I was to have met them in such random circumstance because they reminded me of a simpler way of life and how it can bring so much happiness.
* I wanted so desperately to get pictures of this place that could accompany this entry, but as luck would have it this would be the one day that my phone battery ran flat!