On a whim after work, Harold decided that we could jump on any bus heading to the east coast in order to check out the beaches. Half an hour later, we were dropped off in a rather empty-looking suburb and found a bunch of houses that had obviously taken a heavier pounding from the earthquakes. What we saw in the backdrop, however, were beautiful white mountain crests overlooking an expansive beach boardwalk below. Welcome to New Brighton! The pretty blue pier seemed to be a perfect spot for fishing without much noise or activity nearby. It felt strange to see such a peaceful town surrounded by magnificent scenery be that deserted since the area pretty much screamed top-notch real estate. After a nice stroll through the sand dunes, the setting sun reminded us that it was indeed time for dinner. Angling for some fish and chips, we walked around until we came to a small shop offering an unbeatable deal:
Thinking it’d be kind of romantic, we settled down behind a wall on the beach underneath a bridge overpass for some fine dining. Opening the paper packages, we got:
Coated in thick batter and deep fried, we were happily gorging along and starting to feel incredibly sick and bloated when a guy wearing a baseball cap walked by and muttered something about sharing. We looked up and said, “Sorry, but we don’t have a lighter.”
He walked two steps, paused to turn and asked, “Really? Suppose you can’t share some of your food?” With that cleared up, Harold and I thought nothing of it and offered him some to which he proceeded to sit down and eat with us. Seeming intent on devouring everything, questions along the lines of work, ethnicity and travel went back and forth casually enough, and he wanted to know why in the heck we were in this part of town so late in the evening. Cautiously looking about, he stated that these were indeed some bad parts and that he was just beat up the other day but not to worry because he was definitely not crazy. Putting us further at ease, some bitter anti-American sentiment quickly surfaced along with many questions about money and just how loaded we were. Obviously two dorks sitting in the dark under a bridge munching on paper-wrapped junk have dollar signs written all over them, but we redirected the subject away from us back to neutral ground. Feeling a sharp sense of unease and noticing that there weren’t many folks nearby, Harold suavely peeked at his watch and proclaimed it was about that time to go meet our “friend” back in the city. Two reluctant handshakes later (he’d been licking his palm and fingers in the middle of grubbing), we skedaddled to the closest bus stop and found our way back home. Sometimes a little exploration can go a wee bit awry but now we understand why it’s best not to be on Brighton’s beaches after sundown.