My airbnb home tucked away in the greenery
Welcome to New Zealand!
Do NOT fly to New Zealand the way I did! I guess I wanted my son, brother, and sister in NY to wish me farewell, and then have my brother drive me to the airport. As a result, I booked my flight from JFK to Dubai, Dubai to Brisbane, Australia, and finally Brisbane to Auckland–a total of about 30 hours of travel time! Fortunately, the plentiful meals, three movies, and the seventh season of Mad Men saved me.
I arrived in Auckland on Wednesday, Jan 13th, to pleasant sun, after which I’ve been told has been an unusually rainy, cloudy, and windy summer season. I’ve quickly learned to chat it up and ask lots of questions. It’s true what people say: Kiwis are some the friendliest people happy to assist and make recommendations.
After getting myself by bus and cab to my airbnb stay just outside Auckland city center, I had a chance to relax and take in the scenery. New Zealand is a temperate rain forest. Every where you look are rounded hills and lush, emerald-green vegetation that appears velvety to the touch. In the midst of this are the immaculate and well marked road ways seemingly pretty easy to navigate–with the exception of driving on the opposite side of the road–and all of this surrounded by water–everywhere.
I highly recommend using airbnb. I rented a lovely room from two young hosts–Rania a Kiwi, and Sebastian from France– for two nights, and they were extremely helpful with bus schedules, local shopping, sim cards, and morning coffee. The other guests were mostly young people from France curious about New York City. It seemed that every time I opened the door to my room to head to the bathroom, I was met by a young, handsome twenty- something in boxers!
A short walk in the neighborhood led me up a path behind residential homes to hills and elaborately paved walking and biking trails in the midst of rolling pastures dotted with cows and a panoramic view that stretched over Auckland out to the water. Traveling truly slows down time and holds you spellbound in the present moment.
Two days later, while waiting for the bus to Tauranga, I sat next to a young teenager reading the John Greene novel, Paper Towns. I exclaimed that I knew the author and stated how popular he was with young people in the United States. He gave me a brilliant smile– braces flashing in the sun–and then asked me about New York City.
I’m a little sorry that I didn’t plan to spend an additional two days in what’s called Auckland City Center since I missed seeing both the Auckland Museum and the Auckland Art Gallery, but bus schedules fill quickly, and I needed to be off to meet a friend about three and a half hours away.
If I appear cool, calm, and collected, I can assure you it is only a facade. Under the surface, tiny bubbles of doubt arise here and there and I wonder if I can really do this. I am reminded again of The Alchemist:
“Once you get into the desert, there’s no going back. And when you can’t go back, you have to worry only about the best way of moving forward. The rest is up to Allah, including the danger.”