October 28, 2013
(I time traveled and I didn’t even get an October 27… well, I guess I did, but it was only for a few hours on the flight and I was sleeping)
My first day in another country didn’t quite go as delightful as expected. But then again, aren’t there always hiccups in traveling? Part of the challenge and joy of traveling is learning to overcome things like this:
– I survived saying goodbye to my parents in Maui, a 1-hour layover flight in Honolulu and a 9-hr flight to Auckland successfully without crying. But when I got off the plane, through customs, claimed my bags, and finally found a wifi spot (only 30 min. of free wifi… if you EVER find a spot for wifi in Auckland, it’s only for 30 min. Ugh), I broke down and could barely send my e-mail out. The mixture of the lack of sleep, fear, worry, exhaustion, frustration at myself for wanting to just go straight to Wellington, missing best friends already… it all got to me.
– Yes, I got lost. Horribly. Twice. Once when I was dropped off at a street and told to take another bus (but the bus blew past me, so I decided to think that it was close enough to walk to the hostel from there), which resulted in me getting myself lost for TWO hours around Auckland and having to ask people for help, nearly all of them who didn’t know where the hell Pronsford St. was (the one guy who truly helped was a surfer dude who liked that I was promoting Nixon Inc. since he happened to have a Nixon phone case and watch. Sweeeet). I didn’t attract many looks from Kiwis, oddly enough… then again, it was Labour Day and there was hardly anyone (both people and cars alike) who flocked the streets. Man, for Auckland being the “big” little city, it’s not even that big. Which is great. Passerbys must have thought I was a goon, wheeling these two massive suitcases plus my camping backpack, and I could barely get the buggers across those bumpy speed-bump-like things at the end of every crossing (thank goodness for four-wheeled luggage). I definitely got a workout today… and when I realized that I was on Ponsonby Rd. rather than on Prosford St. (city OF Ponsonby), I broke down crying again, this time out of sheer frustration because I didn’t have a phone, no wifi in that area, and no one really understood where I was trying to get to. Ah, the beauty in getting lost. I knew it would be amplified in another country, but that’s how ya learn… 😉 I eventually found the hostel, to which the German guy who owned it retorted, “You must be American… you call me from someone else’s phone saying you’re lost and then you get here with a load of luggage,” ha. I got lost coming back to the hostel toward the evening as well, of course… I didn’t know which bus stop to get off on so I ended up walking another 3 blocks or so back, in the dark, trying to retrace my steps. Thank goodness for landmarks (that Warner Music building saved me)… I’d probably die in a country that doesn’t hail English as its first language.
– Ended up having to run to the bathroom several different times just to cry or blow my nose (I relapsed from my beginning sickness in Maui and ended up getting a cold on top of this) to hide my embarrassment of crying in public (on a public holiday). I was a mess… I don’t think I’ve cried uncontrollably this hard in awhile, and I think the physical/mental/emotional exhaustion all got to me throughout the day. I cried on a swing in a random park near the hostel, cried on the curb, cried in a shopping center when I read some e-mails (in the rare instance of me finding wifi), cried whenever I thought about what I left back home… but I kept trying to push myself to be strong, since this was, after all, my dream. I wanted this more than anything else…
But now, the positive things. The flight itself wasn’t that bad; I knocked out for a couple hours. The guy next to me was a Kiwi and looked like Seth Rogen with an accent; he was also moving to Wellington, although originally from the South Island. I should have taken a pointer from him when he got off his Auckland flight and caught an Air NZ flight to Wellington right after. Sigh. The airplane food was decent– as they called it, “supper and brekkie.” The chicken looked like some chicken curry dish with rice and coconut ice cream as dessert; brekkie was a muffin, eggs, and chicken sausage (well, at least the ones I picked). They gave some pretty heavy-duty plastic utensils, too. Thank goodness all their TVs worked; the Delta TVs on my Tokyo flight were all wonked out.
I ended up taking the $11 ferry to Devonport and back since it’s a tiny island easily accesible through the ferry terminal. It was filled with cafes, bookstores, tiny shops, a play area and makeshift beach (after Hawaii, nothing looks as nice… I think South Island will blow Hawaii out of the water, though). It was ruined a bit my by emotions getting the better of me once we were on the ferry back…
The highlight of the day was probably meeting up with Meghan, an acquaintance who has been living out in NZ for about 8 years now. She’s an extraordinary artist that works for the city, designing murals and all sorts of masterpieces. Her creative mind really inspired me again and she graciously took me around the waterfront area, a cute outdoor restaurant area, a pop-up art display of a storytime-like picture, Silo Park (totally a replica of A Bug’s Land), and I had my first meals in NZ with her (fancy ice cream bars and tapas/drinks… although I decided to go the non-alcoholic route due to my exhaustion. Her advice and insight also helped me stay strong, as did my mentor’s.
Still can’t get used to people driving on the other side of the road… and I realized I’m not a huge fan of Auckland because it’s the city, duh (it’s much like SF with the hills and Victorian houses, but just not nearly as populated and hardly any cars). I have a few more days to explore, and then off to Wellington, my home base… cheers to day one in the books.