Culture shock of New Zealand – Part 3

7 Dec

I’ve been wondering recently how I kept up my eternal optimism while using public transport in South America and how much better it must be to be a bus driver in South America than in New Zealand.

I had my fair share of hairy journeys in South America..hanging off the edge of cliffs in Northern Argentina, ascending to over 5,000 metres on a dirt road in Bolivia and speeding around the rough roads of Northern Peru on a motortaxi. I sometimes felt a little afraid during these journeys but never experienced a vehicle breaking down.

The drivers in South America were, on the whole, incredible. I mean you give them a crap bus without suspension on roads more suited to a heavy duty 4WD and they just get on with it and bang you along to your destination. You’ll not sleep but sleep is overrated when the scenery is mainly stunning and it’s a better thrill than any of these adventure sports and cheaper.

David, the New Zealand bus driver on my route from Auckland to Pahiha had a lovely bus.

It was clean to the point of being sterile and equipped with all he needed even suspension and he was given nice, new smooth roads to drive on …lucky David you might think.

However, poor David was beset with an endless list of rules before he could even drive his bus. These started before the bus set off.

“no food allowed on the bus”. There is a special shelf under the bus to store food.

“no bags on the seats in the bus” he announced. “If I see a bag on a seat I will personally move it and put it on the floor”.

Once on the bus poor David was provided with a microphone to set out more rules which I am sure even he, a New Zealand bus driver, found a little bit embarrassing.

“no drinks allowed on the bus except water and light coloured juices as if these are spilled once they dry they cannot be seen on the upholstery”.

“no tea or coffee on the bus”.

“no bags allowed on the seats in the bus. Some bags have feet on them and this can damage the seats and if that happens I get into a lot of trouble from my boss. If I see a bag on a seat I will personally remove it and place it under the seat in front”.

“if you do want to recline your seat to relax then please speak to the passenger in the seat behind you as this can prove to be an inconvenience for the passenger behind”.

“today’s bus was late in setting off. 4 passengers with tickets failed to turn up. We have to make special checks for these passengers as, if they have fully refundable tickets they can claim a refund”.

“if you feel sick, let me know immediately. I had a passenger last week that did not do this and I had to clean up the mess”.

“if you need to use the toilet let me know immediately as while we have designated toilet stops I can also stop outwith a designated stop if that is required”.

“I know exactly where each one of you is getting off the bus so if you are sleeping I can wake you up”.

“we have one passenger in Akarango (at least it sounded like that) who has an unconfirmed ticket. This passenger is unlikely to turn up but it is mandatory that I stop there anyway”.

Poor, poor David.

And what was worse was that he had to repeat this ridiculous spiel as each new passenger got on.

I felt that David was craving change. You could feel it in the air. He wanted to be released from the constraints of his job…cue the bus breaking down…all of a sudden on descending a hill huge amounts of white smoke starting coming out of the bus together with a strong plasticky small of burning.

David pulled over.

We all got out and waited for a few hours for a new bus to arrive.

Someone played the bagpipes in the meantime.

All of this was unplanned, unscheduled..in short, madness..

A new bus arrived and David got on along with us all.

He enjoyed moving the baggage for customers, sorting it all out on the new bus and being a passenger on the new bus. He was excited. He was getting to go to Pahiha and then back to Auckland as a passenger.

Suddenly he was liberated from the rules. He went crazy. He allowed an unauthorised stop. He joked with the new driver when the new driver stopped by the side of the road that if he didn’t move a few feet passengers would fall off the cliff and that wouldn’t be good. He apologised for the problems jokingly and said at least we were all alive!!!!

I started to like David.

He would love to be a bus driver in South America…there people can eat anything in the buses..even whole meals served in plastic bags…a driver who told them to store their food under the bus would be laughed off the bus..they can drink drinks of all colours..madness….as for reclining seats..if David was lucky enough to get a bus with reclining seats which actually worked and then told the passengers to ask permission again he would be laughed off the bus…David might even get to rap along with some of the South American rappers who come on with their ghettoblasters to sing and earn some cash.

I can see David rapping. He would say “TTTTTT aaa KKKKK eeee meee to Colombia…where the drivers are free, where on the buses you can even drink tea…take me to freedom, release me from these straps…I want to work on a bus where everyone raps….”

Bagpipes at side of road, New Zealand

Bagpipes at side of road, New Zealand

Broken down bus, New Zealand

Broken down bus, New Zealand

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5 Responses to “Culture shock of New Zealand – Part 3”

  1. Gus and Eileen Paterson December 7, 2010 at 11:26 am #

    Hi Angie, you are getting pulled through the mill, at least you still have a sense of humour which we enjoy. Christine has emailed to say she has emailed you. Her friend is seriously ill in hospital at the moment and she is visiting all the time. Hope you get together.
    Take care, lots of love from Eileen and Gus xx

  2. Christine and Iain (Sylvie's relations) December 8, 2010 at 7:55 am #

    Hi Angie, Sylvie emailed us to say you are in NZ. There’s family in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Nelson – get in touch (hopefully she has given you phone numbers and/or email addresses?)!

    cheers
    Iain and Christine

    • angiemain December 28, 2010 at 7:16 pm #

      Hey guys! sorry not been in touch..bn trying to sort out a car and stuff..though nothing seems to have worked out for me in the car line so far! am currently in nelson taking it easy for a bit . hope you had a nice christmas! angex

  3. Ard-Jan December 15, 2010 at 5:03 pm #

    Hey Angie, I loved the post! Good luck in New Zealand and on the rest of your travels!

    • angiemain December 28, 2010 at 7:10 pm #

      Hey u! how do your travels go? I nd to catch up on your cachi blog! happy christmas. where will u be for the new year this one? angex

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