i did a proper pack saturday morning, thinking that there would be little time to come back to cam’s apartment. kirsty and holly drove around to pick us up. first it was off to the farmers’ market where i was introduced to the bacon buttie. . . delicious, but it’s hard to go wrong with bacon. we headed back downtown, towards the octagon so i could do some last minute gift shopping. . . though it didn’t keep me from hitting up three more gift shops in the airports. it seems i was determined to lighten new zealand of their souvenirs.
we had a quick lunch in the mall. . . a different flavor for everyone, but stopped at angus for amazing take away desserts. the week was long and everyone was feeling a bit tired, so we relaxed at cam’s parents house while eating our desserts and watching some olympics. but the day wasn’t over yet. stace, one of the family friends i met, put a call in to some friends to find out about rugby games. the eels were playing the sharks and i had just enough time to watch the first half before my flight. it was such a treat to be there live and not just watching it on tv. . . sadly it had to end.
ash, cam’s dad, came to pick us up and drive us out to the airport. i made use of the time i had to repack my day pack and travel pack. . . ready for flight and security. at the airport we picked up a local paper which had a picture of ash showing off his vintage car. . . grabbed a few of those to pass around. everyone hung out with me at the airport and we had an impromptu photo session with a map of NZ painted on the wall. i kept watching the time and worrying about having to ditch them to get through security. . . but that’s not how it works in NZ. ten minutes before my flight left, boarding was announced. i walked down a stairway, flashed my ticket, crossed the tarmac, turned around to wave to everyone from the bottom of the airplane stairs and boarded. no security (on domestics) and only a few tears that i tried to hide behind a smile.
a quick transfer in christchurch that i have no memory of, (other than i must have misplaced my souvenir moeraki boulders travel brush there). . . and i was in auckland in the evening. without a phone i had to dump a bunch of my change into a pay phone to get a hold of my hotel shuttle. . . i had to get exact change, but it never told me how much i needed, so it was an embarrassing trial and error. . . but i eventually got it. the staff at my hotel were very informative and helpful, i got a wake up call set up and my morning ride to the airport all set up before i was in my room. i asked how late the restaurant was open, and was told a time but then informed, ‘but you can always call up room service.’
excellent idea. got to my room, surveyed the tv channels- there was another rugby game on, got my internet up and running. .. and ordered room service. i sent a few statuses and thankyous out that night. i would be busy the next morning, and i’d have to pay a second time for more internet.
it was dark when i was picked up by my airport shuttle the next morning. instead of a van, like from the night before, i had an entire bus. . . to myself. dawn crept up as we approached the airport. it’s such a lovely time. . . but the quiet of it encapsulated that emptiness you feel when leaving. i had spent the week in the boisterous company of others. i was headed back to a job filled with bustling people and voices, but at the moment it was just the hum of the bus in my head, and it felt lonely. i don’t mind it so much, i know it doesn’t last, and in some way i tried to sit in that transitional space and feel it. feel the loss of company, the loss of vacation, feel the gratitude i have for those i visited, feel the appreciation that i had the opportunity to travel, and even feel the loss of one more person in my life to share the experience with later (grandpa). a little solitude and solace and soon there would be sleep and in-flight entertainment to distract me.
i had some time in auckland airport. more time for walking about and spending nearly the entirety of my NZ money in gift shops. . . oh and two more meat pies. (one for breakfast and one for the plane- that makes a total of 8 meat pies!) the female attendant who checked me in also checked my ticket before boarding. we exchanged a ‘hello, again.’ as she checked my passport noted that i was the only american passenger on the plane. yay me. i was in the middle section with an empty seat between me and a lovely british woman. we exchanged a bit of conversation throughout the ride. she had a one night stay in seoul before continuing to london. she asked about the weather and i explained it would be hot. little did i know that i was headed back into the end of the hottest week in korea this summer.
i was back in my apartment with plenty of time to do laundry and decompress, though it will take weeks to get things properly sorted. and my apartment, which usually maintains a decent temperature, was super hot and stuffy. twelve hours of running the AC straight barely made a dent. i’ve got to think that my distain for the heat and humidity was only expounded by having just arrived from deliciously brisk winter weather. (going to winter in the middle of summer, still a great idea!)
i’d like to think i’ll get another chance to visit NZ again and see even more. . . and it’s nice to know that i have some fantastic friends to see along the way.