We were delighted when we boarded our plane from Tokyo to Auckland and found out the flight would be approximately nine hours. Nine hours on a plane is do-able for us. That’s about how long it takes to fly from Portland to Tokyo and we do that all the time. For some reason I thought it was more like 13.5 hours (foreshadowing, that’s the length of the flight from Sydney to Portland, oy).
So, I did something months ago I have never in my life done before. I invited myself to someone’s house. Not just for a howdy, or a meal, but I actually invited myself (and Blue Eyes) to stay at this person’s house(s) for three nights. She happens to be someone I had never met. I know, what was I thinking? Well, I’ll tell you what. I have been conversing with her by blog and by messenger for what seems like forever. I think maybe it has been close to two years now. We are not so similar in some ways, and very similar in others. Regardless, I could tell from her blog, her writing, and our conversations that she is someone I want to have a relationship with. She is someone I want to know, better. Most of you regular betrayed spouse bloggers know her as “horses,” “horsesrcumin,” or by her real and lovely name, Paula (Paula’s Blog). A big part of my reason for wanting to get to New Zealand, a place that has been on my wish list FOREVER, but kept getting pushed aside due to sheer distance from, well, everything in our lives, was to meet Paula. Well, I’m here to report, it’s just not far enough away for me to use that excuse anymore. I will return to New Zealand. In the meantime, I must tell you more about the wonderful Paula.
Not only did she agree to house us, but she also picked us up from the airport! A couple friends have asked me if I was nervous to meet this person who I only really knew from my blog. Well, this is not my first rodeo, people. I started meeting blogger friends a couple years ago and I have met a few. I talk all the time on here about how blogger friends know me better than most real life family and friends. The Kat on this blog is real. How I write is who I am. Meeting me, if someone were so inclined, should be an easy transition. What you see is what you get. And, you guys know my deepest darkest secrets (and my weight, yikes!!! 😉 ). Well, not secrets so much as the shit that happened and what transpired after that. Same with Paula. Her blog represents her. We both like to just talk it out. An online journal if you will. We’ve also both learned to take some comments and commenters with a grain of salt. Learned that one the hard way. I knew we would get along. Paula was also instrumental in my decision NOT to contact the other woman all those months ago. Her cautionary tale convinced me that contact would most likely not have the outcome I desired. And I believed her. And I am better off for her advice.
Paula admitted that she was a little nervous about meeting us/me, that special breed of human called Americans, on that February morning at Auckland airport. I don’t think I thought about the whole thing long enough to be nervous. The reason I had asked to stay with Paula was because they live a bit rural. I didn’t want to go all the way to New Zealand without being able to meet Paula and I really wanted to spend a little time with her. I knew neither Blue Eyes or I was equipped to drive in New Zealand, and Paula lives in the countryside so I wasn’t even sure if there was an alternative place to stay nearby. Anyway, I was very excited. It was a big adventure for me. Everything was exciting at that point. Of course I tried to get in on the wrong side of the car, Paula was expecting that. I actually did that for a couple days. She drove us to her beautiful and tranquil farm and set us up in a lovely room.
I had the pleasure of meeting Maple, the adorable long haired dachshund/terrier mix, and then me, Blue Eyes, Paula, and Rog took a walk at the amazing Blue Springs, very near their home.
After our walk, we took an exciting drive around the farm. What a huge and gorgeous piece of property full of rolling hills (and sheep), green pastures (and cows), beautiful rock cliff faces, and pine forests.
That evening, Paula and Rog made us one of THE most delicious meals we have ever eaten. We were hungry, and the food was fresh and simply made. Amazing! I was so hungry I didn’t even take a photo, bugger that! Fresh rack of lamb with a mint and herb sauce straight from the garden, roasted potatoes and a big healthy salad. Simple, fresh food is the best. Blue Eyes has been talking about that meal ever since!
Monday was all about the Waitomo caves. First glow worm caves (no pics allowed), then the Aranui Cave full of stalactites and stalagmites.
We enjoyed a really lovely Italian dinner out with Paula and Rog that evening in the town of Cambridge.
Tuesday we headed to the Lake House (bach–pronounced like batch, not like bach the composer). What a beautiful spot. Blue Eyes wanted to just stay there for the rest of our vacation. On our drives between sights and houses, Paula and I never stopped talking. Unfortunately, Paula talks quite fast and I may have missed a few bits of the conversations. I often felt like I needed subtitles. It was a whole lot of fun.
Wednesday morning we drove back into a town close to Paula’s farm and Paula handed us off to my old work friend, Ruby (who is from North Carolina, but has been living in New Zealand for nearly three decades). It was a bit of a quick exit, what with trying to fit our luggage into Ruby’s teeny tiny car, and not wanting to break down and cry at having to say good-bye to our new friend so soon (both me AND Blue Eyes were about to lose it). I had never wanted to overstay our welcome or burden Paula and Rog, but if we had had our way, we would have stayed with Paula longer. In the end, we couldn’t stay with her forever, and she has work, and a big paper to finish, and well, it was so worth getting a little out of my comfort zone and making this connection across the world. I hope we can reciprocate very soon.
More to come…