Last-Minute Everything, Quick!
April 17, 2011 Comments Off on Last-Minute Everything, Quick!
We were fortunately allowed to check out late, which gave us enough time to pack feverishly. The clothes that had been wet from the kauri forest were still wet today—the dryer in this room was still broken, so we had to suck it up and pack them wet.
After brunch, we did some fast shopping on Queen St. I was bound and determined to buy something merino possum: I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it already, but possums are horrible, horrible invasive pests that are dead on the sides of every road in NZ but apparently not in high enough numbers. But their fur is nice, soft and hollow (so very warm), and, in an entrepreneurial move that I greatly admire, tourist shops everywhere sell sweaters, scarves, hats, gloves, ponchos, &c. that are made with a blend of possum fur and merino wool. I love the idea and I wanted to support it, plus merino possum is very soft and wonderful. So we went into this tiny little shop and I found a pretty grey-brown wrap with a NZ silver fern pattern along the ends, and I bought it. Oh yes I did. It is lovely and wonderful and I love it very much.
Then we drove to the airport and asked inside about maybe shipping our metal tuatara from Golden Bay—I was worried it would get bent or something if we checked it, and it was Sunday, so nothing was open. (What an outdated rule that is. Because no one ever needs to mail anything on Sundays, and god forbid you make me put something in the mail on the Lord’s Day. Sheesh.) But the woman we talked to advised us to get it wrapped up nicely at a station near the Air New Zealand desk and then check it as a fragile item. I hadn’t known you could do that. But we decided to do it that way.
Next up: a confused search for the car rental place. We found the big lot for Hertz, Budget, &c., but little Ace Rentals wasn’t there. We asked one of the guys at the big lot, and he gave us convoluted directions to where he thought it might be, which we were intensely skeptical of, but, as it turns out, unfairly. We had no trouble finding it, and they didn’t even walk around the car with us or anything, just took the keys and bundled us onto the shuttle.
By the time we got to the terminal, we were getting stressed about the time. We found the fragile item wrapping place, where the sulky guy behind the desk took his sweet time with the bubble wrap, as if we didn’t have a plane to catch, but then we checked it, no problem. Security was interesting because it was the first time in my life I have ever been taken aside for more screening—I always assumed I fit every criterion you could ever think of for the person least likely to pose a security threat to an airplane. But a nice older woman took me aside and scanned me with a wand, then swabbed my backpack for explosives residue. She was nice but professional until she opened up my bag and saw the Harry Potter book right there. Her face lit up and she started telling me how the latest movie comes out on DVD today, and she’s lucky she has grandkids because she can use them as an excuse but really she’s such a fan! It was cute. I liked her.
I was briefly in a very bad mood on the plane because Simon and I were sitting in the middle of the middle, with me next to an elementary school teacher who may or may not have been very sick. But as the plane filled up, the seat next to Simon stayed empty. I tried to keep him from jinxing our luck, apparently with some success because the plane got off the ground and we still had another seat. Thank god! So we moved down a seat and had a little bit of room, and it was good. I spent most of the flight watching movies and doing logic puzzles, but very late into the flight I decided I should try to sleep. It had worked on the way out, but I have to remember that in general I do not sleep on planes. I tried for a while, but when I finally got comfortable my ankles were expressing their disapproval of the flight with growing-pains sensations, and I couldn’t fall asleep, and the next thing I knew, they were turning the lights up for breakfast. Because lack of sleep makes everything a heartbreaking tragedy (especially lack of sleep), I started to cry (which was embarrassing because the lights were coming up) and had to hide under my jacket. But breakfast helped.
And then we had gone back in time, and it was 10:15am on April 17, exactly seven hours before we had taken off. We cleared customs (with a jovial guy who told me my last name was Greek and stamped across two of the little stamp squares on our passports…jerk), and then Kelly was there to pick us up, thank god. She sheltered us in her beautiful little Oakland apartment and gave us coffee and cinnamon bread (mmmm), let us shower and sleep, and then made us Chinese dumplings. I love you, Kelly. Oh yeah, and it was fun to hang out and stuff. We’re getting her to ship us the tuatara. I would have been fine, from a jet-lag point of view, if we could have gone to bed like normal people, but instead Kelly and Jake took us to the airport in time to catch a red-eye flight back to Milwaukee. Bleurgh.