The eagle has landed!
Bedraggled, exhausted, cranky. And oh so relieved. The weary family of travelers steps off the plane after an overnight and harrowing ride. My father asks, “How’s it feel to be in New Zealand?!” My first words on New Zealand soil: “I’ll let you know when my body regains feeling.” Rather anticlimactic first words… not my proudest moment.
It’s hot and humid on the North Island. I soon regain feeling and am awarded with sweltering and sweaty feet. Imagine wearing a Thrift Shop-esque fur coat and drinking coffee whilst sitting in a sauna. Wool socks and the wintry garb worn for Canada’s weather did not translate well into New Zealand’s environment. I griped about my hot feet for a bit until I heard a crowd cheering for me as I exited the terminal. Wait. Nope. The crowd is carrying a sign that reads, “Congratulations Miss South Pacific!” Last I checked, I hadn’t entered or won any beauty pageants. They must be cheering for the girl next to me. Maybe that’s why she’s wearing heels and a pooka-shell crown.
We met a woman, Susan, who drove us to the first truly vacation-y part of our vacation (we went to the Hobbiton movie set… I’ll be devoting the whole next post to that experience….). Even in the airport parking lot, I was struck by the strangeness of my surroundings. Usually, cities seem relatively similar and somewhat predictable – there are roads, lights, other marks of industry. But somehow even my initial intake of New Zealand city environment had elements of novelty and felt different than other cities I’ve previously visited. Our drive in the countryside further served to reinforce the indescribability of NZ. Karli described the landscape as a “tropical Switzerland.” The rolling green hills reminded me of Ireland while some flora seemed African or Hawaiian. In the countryside there is this ancient mystical Irish vibe, but warmer, more lively, and less gray and dreary. The land seems to paradoxically embody both a temperate European environment and a hot and exotic landscape – some cosmic environmental collision that shouldn’t work, but it does and boy does it work well. After all, New Zealand is known for its geographical diversity and magical quality.
Quote of the day (accompanied by the exchange that followed):
Mom- “My ankles were so swollen [on the flight]. I looked like JaJa. JaaJaa?”
Me- “Ok…. He doesn’t have ankles.”