I didn’t sleep well. The whole Coronavirus thing coupled with the lunacy of our current completely inept president and his administration had me on edge. I finally got out of bed around 5:30 am and just hung out in the living room listening to waves gently breaking on the shore. I made the mistake of looking at the news. Ugh. I was starting to really weigh whether we (a) going to make it home before the insanity got worse and (b) whether we should just wait it out in New Zealand for a month or so. That I was seriously thinking about this was very unsettling. The good news was that at least Sadie was safe and sound with my sister and even though I missed her badly, I didn’t have to worry about her.
Susanne got up around 6:30 and saw the look on my face. I am definitely not one for panic and I think she could tell something was off. The market was crashing, travel bans were going into effect it was starting to feel bad. Susanne then mentioned that it would be a bummer if we got out of New Zealand but then got stranded on Roratonga. Normally, spending extended time on a beautiful tropical island would be a happy thought, but in this case it was a bit terrifying. If we were going to be stranded, I wanted to be somewhere that had decent medical care like New Zealand. We chatted about it for awhile and decided that we would see if maybe we could get back a day early and get a direct flight.
Jason made us a nice breakfast and I tried to call Air New Zealand. After waiting 30 or 40 minutes, I gave up. We decided we would just drive straight to the airport and see if we could change our flights. Sadly, the glow worms were going to have to wait for another trip.
To add insult to injury, the hot water heater quit working and we had to take some very cold showers.
We packed up our stuff and headed out. It’s about 4.5 hrs drive. We were all pretty subdued and not talking much. Now and again we could get up the energy to find something funny, but mostly we were all pretty introspective.
Years of wandering around the wilderness and the world have taught me to always build contingency plans. Always think about what you are going to do if certain things happen. Prep your response to challenge and difficulty. I found myself thinking through all of the scenarios that might present themselves over the next couple of weeks. If we had to stay in New Zealand, where would the best place to stay be? How to make sure we could get money. Would we need a vehicle? All of those things. Then it was what to do when we get back to Flagstaff. It was all very calm and disturbing at the same time. Susanne asked if I was ok. I said yes, just scenario planning.
We got to the airport and tried to change flights. Nope. Air New Zealand was going to charge us full price. No thought at all about the special circumstances and the fact that the planes going to the US were almost completely empty. Yeah for corporations! The beacons of human kindness.
Jason and Cynthia decided to stay since we couldn’t get on. We went out and got a taxi to our hotel. The taxi driver said he had only had 3 rides all day and that he had been sitting there at the front of the line for hours waiting for someone to need a ride. The impact of all this is going to take a very long time to recover from and sadly the most vulnerable will take the brunt of it while our President plays golf.
We got to the hotel which wasn’t all that nice. It was smack dab in the middle of a big warehouse district. Definitely not the 4 Seasons. Jason wasn’t too happy, but he was very polite and didn’t say anything. We were all tired and stressed. I looked what was around us to see if there were any restaurants. I noticed a winery. What?!?
It was about 2 km away and definitely walkable. At first I thought it must just be a warehouse distribution center, so I pulled up google earth to look. Vineyards and beautiful grass everywhere. Wow!
I suggested we go there.
We walked through the warehouses and ended up at the entrance to the Villa Maria winery. The grounds were beautiful! We made our way to cafe and had a seat looking out at the very pleasant setting. We ordered some wine and some cheese and snack plates. They were quite good. I think we all needed a little beauty and calm and we all relaxed a bit.
We walked down to a restaurant called the Post Office to have dinner. It was pretty warm inside but overall not bad. New Zealand was playing Australia in cricket. Jason pointed out that cricket was the dumbest game on the planet and that he didn’t understand it at all. I started to explain it. Cynthia was both impressed and befuddled that I knew anything about cricket.
Simmons got wicketed and walked off the pitch muttering to himself. Susanne was muttering to herself wondering why we would waste even 1 second watching such a boring and inane activity. The food was super-boring — almost as boring as cricket. Susanne wondered how you could have chicken, cheese, onions, veggies, and sauce on a pizza and still have it taste like nothing. Good thing we had yummy snacks at the winery. We picked at dinner and walked back to the hotel.
Jason wanted a whiskey, so I joined him. I suggested we go sit by the pool. Everyone agreed this was a good idea. We soaked our feet in the cool water of the pool and tried to just chill. We ate some leftover chocolate. We noticed the signs that said “no alcohol or glass in the pool area”; we shrugged our shoulders. It was clear we were all tired and mentally fried, so we headed up to our rooms. I struggled to get Zelle to work. Ugh. Susanne told me to chill. Maybe I needed to watch more cricket.
So hopefully tomorrow will go smoothly and we will have a nice snorkel and dinner in Roratonga and have a safe and uneventful flight home. My sister offered to pick us up in LA which was super nice and will allow us to NOT have to rent a car at LAX. Susanne and I were both deeply grateful.
Air New Zealand has inflight Wifi, which is great and allows me to post a blog from the plane. YAY!