Wendyl Nissen: Hurry up and wait

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Good luck catching thoses buses, Wendyl Nissen tells our visitors.

Wendyl Nissen finds herself offering help to two tourists who may be 'freaked out'. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Wendyl Nissen finds herself offering help to two tourists who may be 'freaked out'. Photo / Brett Phibbs

I've been passing a lot of tourist couples in bus stops. I know they're tourists here for the Rugby World Cup because they both have packs on their backs, are wearing trainers, matching beige zip-off trousers and anoraks.

Their outfits are the universal symbol for travel.

But without the outfits I would know they were tourists in a bus stop because of the shared look of complete confusion and desperation.

In their country, buses probably come quite often, like every five minutes, like every major city in the world with a transport system.

In our country, you can wait several hours because that's just how often a bus comes.

I quite often catch the bus from my place into town. Saves on parking and fossil fuels and is quite a pleasant ride through Karangahape Rd.

But none of my bus trips have ever gone quite as planned.

Later than I thought, earlier than I suspected, a detour through several other inner city suburbs other than my own, a wait in the stationary bus for 10 minutes with no explanation.

I know that all these events are normal and the fact that I didn't know about them was entirely my fault.

I can live with that because I live here. If I was a tourist I'd be freaked out.

I've been a freaked out tourist in the middle of nowhere; Civitavecchia in Italy to be precise.

We were there for only a day and my husband had designs on climbing an enormous hill.

I had designs on doing very little. And then I bought a weeping Madonna.

"You should go and visit her," said the woman serving me. "She is very beautiful and just a short bus ride. It is very good luck."

"We're going to see the weeping Madonna," I announced to my husband as I led him to the bus station.

We hopped on a bus. Other people hopped on the bus. Everyone sat there for 20 minutes minding their own business and then everyone hopped off again.

"Maybe that's a lunchtime thing," I said. "You hop on the bus to get out of the heat."

Eventually we found a bus which took us miles from our cruise ship which was sailing in three hours.

We visited the weeping Madonna, who was indeed beautiful but I struggled to see the tears as there was only one Madonna weeping in that church - an old woman prostrate in front of the statue.

"Someone died?" I suggested.

"No, just barking mad," said my husband.

We bought another souvenir weeping Madonna and then waited for the bus to return back to the port. We had two hours to get back to the ship. It never came.

So after waiting an hour we walked. On a motorway. With no pedestrian access.

Cars and trucks zoomed past us nearly lifting me off my feet with the rush of air.

"This is like we are walking on the southern motorway at home," I shouted to my husband over the din. "We might get run over."

Actually I hoped a traffic cop would swoop down upon us, tell us it was very dangerous and give us a ride. But he didn't

Instead we walked perilously back to the port in the heat and the dust just in time to catch our boat.

And so years later I pulled up to a pair of tourists waiting in a bus stop, ready to give them a lift and save them from being freaked out.

"Hi there, welcome to New Zealand. Need a lift?" I asked graciously.

They both looked at me. They looked at my Prius and then they looked at each other and laughed.

"No thanks," one of them said in a Kiwi accent I recognised as my own.

"We live just down the road; you're the lady with the noisy chickens."

- Herald on Sunday

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