Plane and Customs
After a 9 hour direct flight with a nice New Zealand film selection, I went through customs after waiting in a long line Disneyland style. It took about an hour in line. At 6AM. I felt like I was on Ellis Island and it was 1904. Without the typhoid fever. Then I presented my visa and was warmly welcomed. Then baggage claim. Then my big bags had to get scanned before I was free to go. They asked me about camping gear and shoes. I told them everything had been washed. They were apparently worried about invasive species coming into the country. Finally, I was free to go!
From the information desk, I gathered I had 2 choices: Public Bus for $14 with a necessary transfer downtown, or private shuttle for $50. I was feeling ambitious, so I did the public bus. After 4 hours, 1 wrong bus, and 3 crabby bus drivers, I was near the address I was supposed to meet Melanie at. She had the key to the place I was staying at. Only once I got off the bus, which had extremely friendly
Kiwis who were trying to help me. One guy yelled at the bus driver to stop at my stop. He had on lots of seashells – seashell rings, necklaces, even an earring. Very interesting. So I get off when I see 239 Ocean Bay Rd. Melanie's address is 235, so I figure I'm close. Only the houses stop, I discover after the bus leaves, at 237. Then no more houses – a golf course appears. So I figure I'm going to have to walk past the golf course (with the bags) to get to 235. I'm walking for about .5 miles dragging the bags now, since all the wheels had busted by then. Sweating. Then this old man pulls up next to me and asks me what my deal is “mate”. So then he drives ahead to see if 235 is past the golf course. He comes back and says no, but let's go to his house and call Melanie. So we go in and his wife offers me tea, we call Melanie, she explains her house is hidden. So then he and his wife invite me to a party at their house at 5 that night. Crazy friendly. I say maybe. He drives me back to 237 and sure enough Melanie is waiting there for me. I thank my new friend Ted for driving me to his house and then Mel and I go inside her house. We have a cup of coffee with her husband. Very nice people. Then we drive around for 45 minutes or so. They show me the school I'll be teaching at. Not exactly the view of Le Jardin, but cute nonetheless. We arrive at the house-sitting house I'll be staying at. They give me the key and we set a time tomorrow when they will pick me up and take me to the mall, where the bank will probably be open. I will need to open a bank account and have money transferred from Hawaii before I can get a car or a cellphone.
Started the day out cloudy and cold at the airport. It got sunnier in the afternoon, by the time I was up north. Temperature in low 70s. Very cold for me. I will have to get a jacket. I just took a 4 hour nap and then went for a walk to Torbay town, which is like a 20 minute walk from the house I'm at. I wasn't sure where I was walking, and got lucky finding the place. About 15 stores. Not much going on. No internet cafe. Not bad pizza, though. I was told Browns Bay town is a 20 minute walk from Torbay, but was afraid of not being able to find my way back to the house in the dark. So I headed home. Tried to turn the TV on, but couldn't figure the satellite thing out. It's a pretty neighborhood. Very kept up, quiet, lots of birds and flowers. Not at gorgeous as Hawaii though.
Goals for tomorrow: Find the mall. Open bank account. Rent car. Get cellphone. I was going to take things slowly, but I feel kind of stuck and lonely without a car or phone. Or internet. Scary how dependent I've become on technology. Oh, yes, but most of all, I miss my lovely wife Beth and my two cute dogs.
9:15 PM and JUST DARK!!!! It's a strange but welcome change from 6PM Hawaii winter dark.
So I finished my first day and I think it went pretty smoothly. Very exciting!