Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sunday, January 08, 2012

My New Zealand visit, part one

On December 3rd I left Seatac-Tacoma international airport on the first leg of my journey to visit my family in New Zealand.

I only had a couple of hours to wait before boarding the plane for San Fransisco, so spent my time reading a book and wondering what news I would hear from Mr C when I called him on the following Tuesday. Many of you know he had a biopsy to determine if there was cancer present, and you will now know that the good news on Tuesday was that he did not have cancer, so I was able to settle down and enjoy my time with family.

As the Boeing 737 gained altitude and headed south toward San Fransisco, we had a wonderful view of the snow covered Cascade mountains surrounded by a blanket of clouds.

Arrived in San Fransisco around 3:45pm and thought about how I was going to kill some time before my next flight left at 7pm.

I wandered around the duty free shops but was not interested in buying any thing, so bought a cup of coffee and headed to the departure lounge where I settled in to read for a while, before boarding the Boeing 747-400 for the 13 hour flight to Auckland.
We left San Fransisco about 30 minutes later than scheduled and by this time I was ready to get on board and have my dinner. I knew it would be an hour or two before dinner was served, so I tried to be patient and spent time watching a movie until dinner was served.
After watching all the movie while eating dinner and drinking a couple of glasses of wine, I reclined my seat as far as it would go, pulled my blanket up under my chin closed my eyes and drifted off into sleep. I usually have a difficult time sleeping during a flight, but this time I was surprised to wake up after sleeping for about six hours. I know it was a combination of lack of sleep during the past few weeks, and the two glasses of wine I drank at dinner which allowed me to 'go out like a light' It didn't seem that much longer when the cabin lights came on and an announcement was made that breakfast was going to be served. Evidently I had dozed off again

Auckland at last. I was a weary traveler by this time but not too tired to admire this beautiful Tomokanga. (carved gateway) The magnificent Tomokanga provides a uniquely kiwi welcome for international travelers when they arrive in Auckland. Standing 2.8m high and 6m wide, the carving symbolises a spiritual portal from one realm to another, a journey from the dark (the outside world) into the light (world of the living).

As the traveler approaches the Tomokanga a traditional Maori recorded welcoming message is heard.

I am not shy about asking someone to take my picture to record my journey. I have passed under this gate on a couple of occasions, and this is the first time I stopped for a 'kodak' moment.
Whenever I hear the traditional Maori welcome chant, I feel I have arrived home. Even though I have been living in USA for 30 years, I will always feel, as I am sure others do, that New Zealand is my home, at least in my heart.