Christine and I had dinner at a nice beachfront restaurant and had shared a bottle of wine. Usually this leads to some bad decision making i.e. another bottle of wine or staying out all night at the bar or both!
This night, not being any different from other nights, went along the same path. After dinner we walked straight into the bar next to the restaurant to mingle with the other travelers seeing the sights at the Bay of Islands. The plan was (like it always is) to go in, have a drink or two and head home because we had to get up early to catch a bus to Cape Reinga. We sat at the bar, ordered our drinks and took in the ambience of this small town bar. Shortly after getting our second drinks, the Aussies playing pool came over and challenged us to a game. Not wanting to seem unfriendly, we accepted..and 2 drinks became 3. With the 2 Aussies was an older American who popped in for a drink and a Brit (his name is Simon, really it is) traveling on his own. After a lengthy, sloppy game of what I think is supposed to be pool (and 2 more whiskeys) the bar was closing. An excellent time to head for home (our new American friend is thinking the same thing). However, the other 3 gentlemen weren't having it and off we went in search of another place that was still open (like Christine or I would say no).
|The bar at Mako Beach Bar (first bar) - I was impressed with how smooth it was|
The next place had a little more of a local flavor and was filling up since it was the only place left open (at midnight). At this point, everyone was pretty well intoxicated and each person was buying rounds for everyone else which created an abundance of drinks. We brought everything over to our table and began playing pool.
At this point I feel it is very necessary to explain who the Maori people are (in a very broad sense). They discovered and settled New Zealand some 1100 years ago. They are very proud of their heritage and still hold to many of the old ways. They were extremely war-like and that aggression is reflected today in their love of rugby (New Zealand All Blacks are almost always world champs) and their willingness to engage in fisticuffs. They are now regular citizens of New Zealand, having shared the land with England for 300 years or so, but maintain ties to their tribe and its land. That should be enough to go on, so back to the story.
So the Brit and I were playing against 2 Maori in an even more horrendous game of pool when one of them took one of the abundant drinks we had on the table. She didn't ask or say thanks and walked off to talk to someone she knew. At this point "Auntie" came over to find out where the drink came from. Whether she was their aunt or anyone's aunt remains to be determined; that's just what one of the guys called her. At the start we could make out most of what she said, but the more she spoke, the worse our understanding became. Maybe it was the New Zealand English/Maori accent, or the missing teeth or the fact that she was hammered or all of it together, but she just sounded like the low rumble of big engine; fitting because "Auntie" is a big lady.
Our British friend smoothed things over by saying he allowed "Auntie's" niece/daughter (we're not sure) to have the drink. "Auntie" was upset or embarrassed and explained many times to Christine that she would punch her niece's face in for doing this. Christine, being Christine did her best to calm her down. Satisfied, the Brit and I went back to playing pool. Soon after, I returned to grab my drink and I noticed "Auntie" was still there and was now helping herself to another one of the drinks on the table. She mumbled something to me to the effect of me being tall, but not that big. She walked behind me, bear-hugged me and picked me up. Now this really fired up Christine...and she told "Auntie" to get her big meat hooks off me that I was her husband (poetic license people; Christine might have said damn dirty paws - I was drunk remember?). Now I couldn't tell if "Auntie" was remorseful or embarrassed because Christine was yelling at her like a child, but I didn't care and just tried to get back to the pool table - quickly. Especially since Christine and "Auntie" were threatening to punch each other in the face. In Christine's defense she was only repeating "Auntie's" threats to show that she wasn't afraid nor was she going to back down. As I walked away "Auntie" claimed I grabbed her butt and Christine and her were back at it. Somehow, somewhere along the way Christine and "Auntie" smoothed things over - I think, but it was definitely time to go. We said our goodbyes - Christine and "Auntie" were even hugging - and we headed back. On the way home Christine told me that as they were hugging "Auntie" was mumbling how she was going to punch Christine's face in and so naturally, Christine returned the threat. There was also a lot more of Christine having to tough-talk this woman to show her who was boss.
|This is "Auntie" - Christine secretly snapped a photo of her right before punching her in the face (just kidding)|
We never learn to listen to the small voice in our heads that says "Go home now," but if we did, we never would have met "Auntie"! All-in-all, a great time was had by all, no one was hurt and our new friend "Auntie" will be joining us for Christmas next year!
|Walking back to the hostel at 1:30am|