How do I even begin to piece back together the last 4 days? It’s Thursday night, and we’ve been here since Monday afternoon. Is this more than an extended holiday? Do we yet feel like this is really happening? Is it true that I’m already beginning to pick up on the Kiwi cadence of speech? (I’m surprised to find that the voice in my head has taken the tone of the last word of a sentence and curled it up.) Is it true that I’ve now successfully driven myself and precious cargo (in today’s case, my son) around the streets of Gisborne without turning into the right-hand lane? Is this massive house really ours? This pool? The sounds of the clock in the center of town carried through the air and over the river to our backyard, are these already becoming the familiar sounds of our days?
Let me piece it back together as best I can. Monday is a bit of a blur. We arrived in Auckland at 6 am. Thankfully, there was no line at passport control or customs.
Mainly, our challenge was steering our 8 suitcases, 2 car seats, a stroller, 4 backpacks, a laptop, and a portable dvd player from baggage claim through customs, from the international terminal to the domestic terminal via a shuttle bus before checking them back in for the final leg of the journey, a 1-hour flight from Auckland to Gisborne, departing at 11:30 am. Thankfully, we were met by Nathan, the recruiter who has helped us at every step of the way. He guided us all between the two terminals and, most importantly, got Sean to his meeting with a representative of the New Zealand Medical Council in order to verify that all the medical training documents that Sean provided are indeed un-forged, and that Sean is in fact the person he claimed to be in his visa application. I was fairly nauseous after landing in Auckland, and so in an attempt not to throw up all over the inside of Nathan’s rental car, decided I better just close my eyes. Auric did the same, and so while Nathan drove us through the streets of Auckland and while Sean, Nathan, and Thora went in for this meeting, Auric and I slept in the car. It wasn’t long before we were back on the road and back at the airport. (I was SOOO ready for this journey to be over.) We ate in a nice airport café, repeatedly going back to the counter to order more toast for the kids. (The cashier must now have the slightly inaccurate perception that in addition to being loud and arrogant—not from us, of course—Americans also eat an appalling amount of toast.) After encouraging the kids to run some races on a small outside sidewalk, we finally boarded our small propeller plane for Gisborne.
There’s not much of this part of the day I care to remember. The landing was choppy, and despite trying to capture on film the scenic view of our new town (“I don’t believe I’m seeing Poverty Bay with my own two eyes!”), I barely kept myself from barfing all over the place (“I don’t believe that I’m going to be remembered as the American lady who puked all over the plane!”). FUN! The van ride from the airport was blissfully short but foggy. The tidy houses with fenced front yards, the old model cars parked on the road, these unfamiliar convenient stores (called Dairies). Was this out of a movie? Was this really happening? Was Thora really taking close-up photos of her new red boots? Was I going to make it there without puking?
We got there and opened the door with our massive key (are all Kiwis walking around with a similar key on their key ring, jangling around in their pockets?), and walked around, stunned (the character to the old-fashioned layout and decor), and then more stunned (glass doors that open wide onto a deck which leads down to an in-ground pool)!
I could barely contain my relief at being at our destination! After weeks of living out of suitcases, and anticipating this moment for close to two years, we were finally here! Our new friends Nathan, his wife Bethan, walked around our new place with us, marveling with us at the size of it, the features, the high ceilings. They didn’t stay long. They knew we were running on fumes and made their departure, leaving us to deflate at various speeds. (I deflated straight to the toilet where I finally tossed my cookies.)
We tried to make a journey “into town,” but Auric encouraged us to head back almost immediately, to nap. Sean and I agreed that if we could all nap in the early afternoon for 90 minutes or so, we could last longer into the night, which would bode well for a quick adjustment to our new time zone. Sadly, Auric was the only one to nap and a couple hours later, we were groggily walking our way into town.
The shops were mostly closed but we gathered that despite being a small town with only two traffic lights, there appears to be most anything we would need. We wandered our way down Gladstone (the main drag through town) and found ourselves at a “family-friendly pub,” The Rivers. It did the trick. Sean and I got a couple pints of a beer from the South Island, we all ate, and then we strolled back down Gladstone to the Pak N Sav, one of the two main grocery stores in town.
We got just enough to get us through the morning and then as dusk turned to night, we walked back to our new home. The kids were in bed asleep by 7:30, and Sean and I were sacked out by 8pm. It was an early awakening (5:45 am, although we were thrilled it wasn’t 3 am), but we marveled at the sounds of our first New Zealand morning. “Those are New Zealand birds,” Sean told me. “That’s the New Zealand sun,” I told Sean. “I want milk,” Auric told us, having appeared in our bed in the middle of the night and regretfully waking us both up at 5:45 am.
That was day 1. I’ll stop for now. It’s 9:49 pm here and I’m ready for bed in a big way.