Winding past Mount Cook on my way to Queenstown via Naked Bus whose nine hour ride is responsible for this long post.
Although I’m comfortable riding solo in life, I had forgotten just how far random acts of kindness go when that’s the case. Yesterday, as I boarded my flight to Christchurch, NZ, a furry fellow a few rows back asked me in a loud yet warm voice to come sit next to him. Because he pegged me for a Californian and the plane was only half full, I said what the hell. Missionary work is initially what called 29-year-old Matthew from Minnesota over to NZ a few months back. Now, he’s off to WOOF for a while to figure out if he is cut out to be a farmer in MN.
With a contained wild look in his eye, he played 20 random questions with me (Are you able to be your whole self at your job? What’s your middle name?), gave me the contact info for folks in his religious organization who would host me for free, and then talked me through the do’s and don’ts of NZ. “I don’t know why I called you over,” he said, amused with himself. “That was weird. I’ve never done that.” He repeated it a couple of times throughout our conversation.
Before the customs line in NZ separated us, he told me that over the course of the flight, God informed him that my missing middle name is Skylar (meaning: fugitive, scholar). He then asked whether I believed in Jesus. That was the last I saw of him.
It was past midnight, and so I was fortunate to stumble upon the last shuttle to my hostel. The driver, a fatherly figure who took immediately to calling me “Love,” and after asking where I was from, concernedly touched me on the shoulder about not having enough layers to stay warm in NZ (which, having been here less than 24 hours, is now a shared concern).
As I entered the hostel dorm room at 1 a.m., worried that I’d wake the others up, a group of women welcomed me and then sat me down to show off pictures of the wedding dresses they were shopping for in Christchurch — a fitting (and helpful) conversation in light of the fact that just last week one of my dearest friends asked me to be her bridesmaid and another asked me to be her maid of honor.
Small and strange moments, but they all brought smiles.
Now for my first rookie mistakes and lessons that I promised to share with you all:
1. Apparently I needed a departure ticket from NZ in order to board in Sydney (somehow United allowed me to board in SF, which was a mistake on their part). This caused me to have to buy Lonely Planet in the airport (dumb expensive) and plot out a rough idea of what I wanted to do in NZ and for how long, AND decide where I wanted to go after NZ–all within 20 min. It’s likely that I’ll have to change the ticket after giving my itinerary more thought.
2. Another useless cost, which I’m embarrassed to admit, having traveled enough to know better (my excuse, which isn’t a good one, is that I’m accustomed to traveling in developing, cash-driven countries): I exchanged currency while in Sydney and then having used none of the cash, had to exchange the remaining currency for NZD upon my departure. I lost money through these totally unnecessary transactions. You can use a cc virtually everywhere (my card has no foreign transaction fees which is another thing to look out for).
3. I failed to sync my downloaded Spotify lists with my home computer before I left and as a result I haven’t been able to listen to music virtually the entire time. Killing me! But today, a sweet kid on the bus lent me his MP3 player, apologizing for the Death from Above (?) album it was currently set to…I managed to track down some Daft Punk. Always a silver lining.
4. I forgot my world converter at home…time to make more friends.
5. The same problem that happened to me on virtually the same day last year as I was hiking the Pacific Crest trail is happening again: the soles of both boots are falling off. Last year’s consequence was that I had to hike six days in gas station sandals. This year I’ll be trekking through snowy passes so looks like I’ll have to buy a new pair, which doesn’t exactly fit into my budget…
Snagged the west side of the bus this morning to catch the stunning sun that I’m now watching set into the mountains. Until next time, friends.