Well, as any day and a half-long travel would go, mine went. Traveling internationally, of course, is always a pleasure... after spending the morning strategically packing my large duffle and supposed carry-on, I was told my checked bag was 13 pounds overweight and I would have to get its weight down to at least 52 lbs. So much for the organization of my bags - by the end of my check in I had checked two bags (instead of one) and carried a backpack and messenger bag rather than the a personal item and convenient roller bag that I had previously prepared. Yet, I continued onward. At least until I was told I couldn't check in for my connecting flight in San Francisco...
But nothing would stop me from getting to Auckland. Five hours and two apple juices later, we touched down at SFO, and after the purchase of Advil and decongestant medicines, I boarded the largest plane I have ever flown in. Air New Zealand sure has it down... everything from the Richard Simons informational video reviewing airline safety procedures to the constant flow of wine with dinner helped to make the 12 1/2 hour flight seem like...11 1/2 hours. The flight was long, but with the help of Sudafed and hot tea, I slept for a few hours and made it.
Mr. Pemberton, Murrays Bay School's principal, was there to greet me at the NZ arrival gate. He escorted me to his car, where I quickly learned not to try sitting in what I consider the passenger's side. Everything about the car was wrong. The passenger's seat was on the driver's side, the driver's seat was on the passenger's side, the speedometer measured kilometers, we drove on the opposite side of the road... at 7:00 in the morning NZ time, the ride to my host family was not easy.
But when we arrived to what would be my home for the next eight weeks, I was greeted at the door by my host mom, Kylie, and her 7 1/2 month old baby girl, Esme. I was immediately given a tour of the house, and then shown to my room. My first impression? Not. Too. Bad. My bedroom window? It faces a backyard of palm trees and the bay. So much for missing my studio apartment in Bloomington, with a window facing an abandoned house.
Kylie's parents, who are visiting from Queenstown, made a wonderful welcome breakfast of tea with a poached egg and tomato on toast. After the family left to visit relatives for the day, I got down to business and began unpacking. Four unorganized bags later, I was established in my new room (the room with the window facing the bay). Having the house to myself until 5 PM, I found the DVDs, got my nail polish, and began my afternoon of "catching up" with my jet lag.
Tomorrow, school begins. The principal has arranged for my carpool, which will require me to walk 4 blocks each morning to the to the town's center, where I will meet another teacher who will drive me to Murrays Bay. I look forward to beginning my school days. I have a feeling that a full night's rest and introduction to the school will allow the reality of this surreal opportunity to set in.
Until next time, I send all of my love to family and friends! Remember to keep checking in!