Friday, November 4, 2011

First adventures in Auckland

I was going to do a whole blog post on a song I recently heard called "Only make pretend" and how I can really relate to this song right now.  But anyway.  Some things are better left unsaid, so instead I am going to rather write about a few other things.

Things are going so well with the Funrazor planning.  The venue - check.  Entertainment - check.  Staging - check (big sigh of relief!).  MC - check (another big sigh of relief!).  Spot prizes - check (and they are still coming in).  Facepainter and photographer - check and check.  Participants - check (we'd like more participants though so if you know of anybody wanting a haircut that makes a difference, please ask them to join us!).  Busy finalising helpers for the day.  I am so incredibly blessed with all the offers of help.  With some great friends running around trying to help me make this event a success.  It is simply amazing.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Speaking of thank you - thank you Amanda (mum) and Sharon (sister in law) for your donations!  It is much much appreciated.  If you would still like to sponsor me, please click here.

Planning this trip to Auckland brought back memories of the first time I came in 2004.  It was around the time we started making plans to move here.  Bianca was only about 9 months old I think.  She wasn't a year old yet and Terence was a contractor (which really meant no work no pay) so we decided that I would come on my own for a week to come and have a look around.  It was my very first overseas trip. Up to that point I have never left South Africa apart from one brief trip to Zimbabwe at the end of 1997.  And usually travel at that stage meant possibly visiting Durban or Pietersburg (now known as Polokwane) to see family, but never outside of South Africa.

So all booked and ready and I arrived on the Sunday night around 10pm.  Don't ask me why, but I booked a rental car.  I didn't realise that public transport was actually a rather common thing and since I was going to stay in the city it would have been perfectly suitable.  But anyway.  Arrived at 10pm, went to the car hire desk, picked up the car.  Loaded my luggage in, put my printed out directions within reach on the seat next to me and I was confident and all set to go. Except I stalled the car.  Not once, but twice!  And it is not that I can't drive a manual (When I learned to drive it was with a manual, and my mum's car was a manual, but Terence's car at the time was automatic).

Within minutes of leaving the airport I was lost.  So there I was at 10pm at night, having to remember to change gears, trying to read the names on the signs (some of which I wasn't all that good at pronouncing) and trying to glance at my directions... and none of it made sense.  None of it was the same.  Not a good start.  And of course not a single sign that said "Auckland CBD".  Finally I stopped at a Shell service station and walked in with my map and asked the person behind the counter to please help with directions.  I had no idea where I was at that moment, just where I needed to be. So they directed me to the city, talked about Spaghetti Junction and all that.  And off I went.

And it all went well.  I found Spaghetti Junction.  Got into the city and at the one intersection I had Hobson Street in front of me.  It was a one way and I had to be at number 1.  So logic... I figured that if I turned right into the one way, I would be able to turn into another street and come all the way back so that I can then turn into Hobson Street and be at number 1.  Okay, that's not so hard.  And so I did that.  Except.... next moment I was back on the stupid motorway.  Argh!  Frustrating!

Finally made my way into some or the other suburb.  Don't ask me which one.  It had houses and cars and some trees.  And because by now it was like 11pm all the streets were deserted.  It was at that point that I was convinced I would have to park somewhere and sleep in the car because I had absolutely no idea where I was going.  At that point I didn't know if I was going up in a road, down in a road and by that time my directions really served no more purpose.

I have no idea how, but I finally made my way back into the city.  And I decided that I was simply not going to go back onto the motorway.  No matter what!  So there I was driving up one road, down another, on and on until finally I decided that I just had to stop, try and see where I was and try and get my head around it.  And as I looked up - there it was.  My hotel!  I've never been so happy to see a place.  It only took me 2 hours (that really should have taken around 28 minutes...).

Looking at this map (and directions) it doesn't look all that complicated... Yeah right!

I got them to park the car, paid for parking and vowed that I was not going to get back into the car that week.  Got to my room and I don't know what made me look (maybe the South African in me), but suddenly I noticed that my credit card was missing.  Panic!  I phoned reception and "no, sorry they don't have my credit card".  More panic!  And of course the South African in me was convinced they had my card, but didn't want to tell me...  And then more panic.  I was in a strange country, with limited cash and in 2 hours I not only got lost, but I lost my credit card.  And I had no idea how I was going to have to cancel my card.  I unpacked all my luggage, my backpack and finally went through my purse again.  And there it was. My credit card!  Turned out a little piece of paper shifted up and covered it.  Phew!  Big sigh of relief.

The following day I had an interview in Mount Wellington. First I overslept because I set the alarm the night before, but forgot to switch it on.  Then I had to go and print off my CV and make copies of documents.  Got to the Sky Tower where they told me that I would find a place to make copies in Queen Street.  What they didn't tell me was that Queen Street was a rather long street and finally found Warehouse Stationery.  In hindsight I really should not have wasted my time.  Being in admin and at that stage without a work permit or residency, there would have been no way for the employer to offer me a job anyway.  I refused to get back into the car and instead took a taxi.  Yes, I'm nuts I know.  But what do I know?  I most certainly did not want to get lost again.  And this time with significantly more traffic than 11pm on a Sunday night.

The second day the jetlag really hit me.  Big time.  I was so not prepared for it.  Happy to say that the rest of the week went rather well and I did a lot of exploring and walking around and I was absolutely fascinated by everything I saw.  I remember how very different the milk tasted to what I was used to and how weird it was being able to walk around with my camera around my neck in the CBD.  So completely different to Johannesburg CBD!

My last night I struggled to fall asleep and by 11pm I gave up, showered, did a final check of my bags and checked out by 1am.  I had to be at the airport by 4am for my 6am flight and considering it took me 2 hours to find my way from the airport to the hotel, I was giving myself 3 hours because I simply could not miss my flight.  And it took me all of 30 minutes to get to the airport.  Because every km to the airport pretty much there was a sign showing the way.  So there I sat at 1:30am inside an airport that was technically closed.  And the only thing open was a little shop where I bought the most disgusting pie I ever ate.  And I didn't want to fall asleep because I was sure I would then miss my flight.  By the time I boarded my 6am flight I was pretty exhausted.

Oh the adventures!  But here we are 7 years later calling New Zealand home.


Linn said...

Reading your story brings back so many memories and feelings of when I have been in similar situations. It's not pleasant at the time but you get throughout it!

Sarah said...

:D I love NZ's Spaghetti Junction...and how I still get warned about driving in Auckland!

You have some great adventures Lea!! At least you'll be a lot more familiar with Auckland this time round! Have fun!

Paul said...

Arriving in Auckland was quite an ordeal. I'm glad you're settled in New Zealand. It was a brave move to leave your mum in South Africa to a place where you knew no-one.

Megan (Best of Fates) said...

What a crazy adventure - and I sympathize with being lost, that happens to me all the time and it's always unpleasant!