*I wrote this post about a week ago*
Kia ora. I am back in the land of the long white cloud, aka New Zealand! I am ecstatic to be back in this beautiful country and I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of the J’s (my mom and her good friend Jan.) Let’s rewind a little bit.
I left for NZ on the morning of June 2. I flew to Apia on the tiny InterIsland plane (yes, what looked like smoke filled the entire plane – was I worried? Nah. My heart didn’t even skip a beat.) After the 30 minute ride, it was now June 3. I settled in at a table to wait out my three hour layover. I was wearing my Leone High School t-shirt and it was quite a hit. I had several Samoans approach me to talk about Leone, which made me happy. I even had a lovely conversation with an older woman who had the most interesting outfit: a conservative denim dress and drop earrings shaped and colored like marijuana leaves. There was constant laughter in my mind. As I sat and waited, I realized that this was the first time that I had travelled without Abby. Abby had been my rock on the rock. We had pretty much done everything together including traveling to Manu’a, Australia, and Apia. As I sat in the airport alone, I missed having her by my side.
My three hour layover turned into 5.5 hours instead of three. Something was up with the plane and we were set to leave at 2:30. I read my book. I people watched. I ordered a ham and cheese sandwich and then pinched myself when I remembered that ham meant sketchy canned mystery meat. I gagged the sandwich down. We ended up taking off at 3:00. It was a comfortable ride to Auckland. Not only did I score a seat in the emergency exit aisle (so much leg room!), but PolyBlue gave me complimentary tea! I walked onto this plane dreading the flight because when I had flown to Australia, I had been squished in the very back of the aircraft, I had froze to death, and I had not been giving a single drop of liquid for the almost six hour ride. As you can see, I was still holding grudges at this time but I was now a happy camper. And I knew that I was still in Samoa when the plane had a singing contest and gave out prizes. I just laughed to myself.
Touching down in Auckland was great but I knew that the worst part of my trip was one step closer: the cold. It’s winter here in Aotearoa. As I waited outside, shivering, for my shuttle to the lodge, I knew that I would have to be tough for the next 28 days. If it was cold in Auckland at the top of the North Island, it was going to be frigid in Invercargill, at the bottom of the South Island. Fa’amalosi, Quinn. Fa’amalosi! (Be strong!) I spent the night at a tiny, budget lodge close to the airport. It was cold, but the hot shower, tea, and extra blankets warmed me up. As I crawled into bed, I couldn’t help but constantly remind myself that in 24 hours time, I would be with my MOM for the first time in almost a year! SEKI A!
Flash forward to June 5. I am still J-less. The Jan’s have not arrived. I spent the entire day – exactly seven hours at the International arrivals gate waiting (with all my luggage, mind you.) When the board said that their plane landed, I stood in the same spot for the next three hours waiting for them to come out. By the time the three hours was up, I called my Dad (poor guy, I woke him up in the middle of the night) only to find out that the J’s flight in Chicago had been delayed causing them to miss their flight to Auckland. HA. Alrighty, off to the motel by myself! So here I am, sitting in my non-heated hotel room, writing this blog. NZ is so weird about heating. They don’t have central heating like we do and for some odd reason, the room I am in doesn’t even come with a heater. It does come with a kitchen though. Interesting. I’ve got about four more hours until I head to the airport to (hopefully) welcome the J’s! I’ll use my free time to watch TV (something I haven’t done in so long…), brave the cold and go for a run (can I just say that I am beyond excited to run here. NO DOGS! OMG!), sip some tea to warm me up, and read. I would go into the city but it’s about a 45 minute bus ride one-way so I wouldn’t have much time.
Before I say fa!, I’d also like to add something that warmed my heart. Want to know what I first saw when I walked into a tiny grocery store in Auckland? Coconuts. The next thing I saw? Koko Samoa. A couple aisles later? Corned beef and tuna. I said out loud to myself, “Where am I?” J
*Internet is expensive here but to update you, I am in Napier and headed to Wellington tomorrow!