You know how when you meet someone while travelling with whom you get along really well, you feel like you can talk to them nonstop, you share precious moments and exciting adventures, and then stay in touch with them for the rest of your lives? Well, this is not one of those stories.
Brace yourselves for another Janneke-Claudia story in New Zealand. I know, we didn’t even stay there that long… Disaster magnets alert, disaster magnets alert!
If you’ve never heard of Taupo, I’ll give you a brief summary of the place: it’s in the North Island, there’s a big lake and it’s awesome, you’ll love it. In Taupo, we stayed at a hostel with the image of a Tiki out on the front which we mistook for a toad. You might consider this mistake to be a reasonable one, considering the similarities between tikis and toads, and it would have been if the place wasn’t named ‘Tiki Lodge.’ So what? Nobody is perfect…
As thrifty backpackers, we prepared Thai green curry with rice on the side and sat on the common area next to a pretty blue-eyed girl. Janneke and I were having an interesting conversation about something I don’t remember when a loud voice made us look up. It was a dude in the back of the kitchen talking about how awesome it is to skydive while wearing a t-shirt with the print “skydive in Taupo”. No wonder he likes it that much… does the word “commission” mean anything to you?
Apart from his loud voice causing some serious damage to the environment, we made nothing of it until it started getting nearer to our table and he sat next to us. We pretended to find something really interesting in our Thai green curries and stared at it intensely to avoid looking up and initiating conversation. He didn’t seem to take a hint and started to talk to the three of us anyway. When I say “talk” I mean it was unidirectional rather than a conversation not because we didn’t try to say anything but because beyond our names and our places of birth, he wasn’t interested in learning more about us but instead tried to convince us to join him and his friends in the pub for quiz night. We would have said “no” had we had a choice in the matter. An hour later, we found ourselves in the pub with him, the French girl and three of his friends.
We sat on an end of the table, while he and his friends sat on the other taking over the quiz and not letting us partake in the game. The odious traveller would only interact outside his group to talk to the French girl and make a cheesy remark about her blue eyes – subtle, dude, very subtle – leaving Janneke and me marginalised in a corner of the table. After many failed attempts to socialise and partake in the quiz game, Janneke and I decided to talk amongst ourselves.
We were deep in conversation when I hear ‘Hey you, Venezuela!’ I assess the environment around me. My glass of beer was nearly full. But it would be a dangerous move getting the three of them soaking wet. ‘Yeah?’ I opted for pretending I’m civilised.
‘They just asked a question about South America,’ he said.
‘I wasn’t listening,’ I said sincerely. ‘What was it?’
‘A country that shares borders with… er… Argentina, was it? and… Mexico?’
Believe it or not, I didn’t laugh. ‘There is no single country that shares borders with these two countries, you see, Argentina and Mexico are not remotely close to each other.’
‘Then it must have been another South American country.’
‘Well that’s helpful.’
‘Do you know which one it is?’
Do I read minds? ‘No.’
The quizmaster moved on to another very easy question about a country we all knew very well which happened to be the country our odious traveller was from. While he answered the question, he gave himself such airs you might have mistaken him for Einstein.
Then he turned to me and said: ‘See? I do know about my country. Fuck you!’ he said and flipped me off.
‘South America is not a country, you idiot!’ I muttered but only Janneke heard what I said.
I would have said it out loud but the premonition that we were about to re-enact an scene from a Western film stopped me. Fortunately, thanks to the weird connection Janneke and I have, she suggested going back to the hostel explaining that she found the aforementioned guy annoying. When we announced we were leaving, the French girl said she’d be coming with us and on the way there, Janneke and I started sharing how annoying we found that guy. Among the things we didn’t like about him was that he was a show off talking about his studies and him being doctor (not a medical one), and how he could drink as much as he wanted and then work the next morning as a skydiving instructor. Well, that’s safe. I don’t want my skydiving instructor to be hungover. Janneke didn’t either.
‘I think he is nice,’ the French girl said.
‘Of course he was nice to you,’ I stated. ‘He wanted to get into your pants.’
Instead of looking surprised, she shrugged in acknowledgement or perhaps because she just didn’t care.
On the next day, we did the Huka Falls track and came back home in the afternoon thirsty and sunburnt. It was a beautiful afternoon so I thought having a beer at the hostel would be the cherry on top of the icing. Janneke promised to stay in the kitchen, since I didn’t have a New Zealand phone number, while I went to the supermarket to buy some drinks. That is why I was surprised to see that she was nowhere to be found when I came back. I messaged her on whatsapp hoping she was able to get online.
What could have driven Janneke away? I wondered and then the answer was walked right in front of me. It was the odious traveller. I had met him before on my way to the supermarket, said hi, when suddenly he took a fancy to my arm. He started rubbing it, which made me really uncomfortable and at the same time it made me wonder if he had an arm fetish.
When I met Janneke, she told me she had to leave the kitchen because she had been sitting down when the odious guy came from behind her and started rubbing her back. At least we now know he doesn’t have an arm fetish; he just likes massaging people. Is that… better?
That night we were watching The Return of the King – yeah, I know, we are typical tourists in New Zealand – with a British guy when the odious traveller started showing off how he can open the door from the kitchen to the playroom without using the handle.
That’s impressive, but… hmmmm…. why?
Once he realised we were the wrong kind of audience – not under the influence of any drugs – he left. A few hours later we took a bus to Wellington, far away from that pompous, offensive, arrogant, sleazy traveller.