14 hour flight from LAX to Brisbane with V Australia: with a nearly infinite selection of movies, tv programs, video games, 2 free meals, a blanket, pillow, headphones, eyemask, and a serene atmosphere due to soft lighting drifting from hues of neon purple to royal blue, the flight was, needless to say, heavenly. In fact, I wish it were longer.
10 hr layover in Brisbane: David and I decide to walk as far away from the airport as we can with an airplane cart carrying our carry-on luggage… we may have looked homeless and/or slightly deranged, but it was a beautiful HOT, humid sunny day and breathing in our first breaths of air thousands of miles away from good old America was invigorating. We met a fellow walker in a situation like ours, Emily – a native from Melbourne in transit from Indonesia to NZ. Our first new friend! How exciting. As a prius driver befriends all other prius drivers on the road because of hybridcar powet solidarity, us walkers befriend all other walkers for footpower solidarity. The walk took us to an airport shopping village that was kind of bizarre… like the extension of an airport terminal but a couple miles away. We decided to turn back at the sight of a potential afternoon rainstorm approaching. Once back at the airport we learned that there are free showers! Talk about living like a queen! We napped, ate subway, and I showered, ready to board the flight to NZ.
3 hr flight from Brisbane to Auckland: slept the ENTIRE time! Perfect for the time change: we arrived at midnight, went through a looong line at customs and collected our baggage, ready for our last hurdle. I didn’t care about the bikes, I didn’t care about my wallet or passport or cell phone… all I cared about was getting all of my Clif bars through the final x-ray machine. Beads of sweat dripping down my forehead, I set my paneer with ALL of my 100ish Clif bars on the conveyed belt, and watched it disappear into the metal abyss. I walked to the other side and could see the interior of my luggage on the computer screen. The lady turns to me and asks, “you have a lot of food?” And I said “yea, a bunch of Clif bars because I’m biking around NZ for 5 weeks.” She remains stone faced and calls for backup. My heart was racing. A very large Maori- looking man comes over and tries to open my paneer. It had a double buckle that he couldn’t get… I opened it for him… and there I stood… exposed and vulnerable with nothing standing between me and my most beloved, most prized possession. He took each and every bar out, one by one, examining each with the utmost intense diligence. Once he picked out one of each type and flavor of bar, he put them through the xray machine again. I stood by helplessly.
I saw them vanish yet again into the abyss… knowing it may be the last time I ever laid eyes on the sleek, shiny wrappers. They made it through and BOOM BABY!!! CLEARED!!!! I victoriously ate a mixed nuts mojo bar as we made our way to the supershuttle that took us straight to the doorstep of our host, Rob. Though it was 230 am by the time we made it there, he was awake and waiting our arrival! We had pleasant conversation and then he tucked us into bed. Not literally. He is SO generous, feeding us, showing is around town today, and giving us a place to sleep! We found rob on the website warmshowers.org, which is like couchsurfing for bicycle tourists.
He is from Wales/England, but moved here to get his masters degree. We’ve really enjoyed sharing stories of our different cultures… I.e. peanutbutter and jelly sandwiches are not common anywhere but USA! In fact, rob finds them appalling!
David and I are sitting at a coffee shop for their WiFi at a westfield mall. The people in NZ are wonderful, super friendly and really helpful. It is socially acceptable to walk around barefoot and without a shirt on. The weather is perfect! The biggest difference I’ve noticed is that people drive on the left side of the road. Yikesies!
We begin our bicycle journey tomorrow morning, heading South to Miranda and then around the Coromandel Peninsula (will take about a week) and then continuing along the East Coast. The WiFi is not readily available and when it is, it isn’t cheap so the blog postings may not be frequent, but I definitely post my whereabouts and whatabouts when possible.
Much love to everyone!