Jason and I arrived safe but weary in the wee hours of this morning in Auckland. Frank and Karen left Raro the day before we did, so Jason and I commenced our “homeless” chapter a day early, but we’re resourceful ones, and we crashed with our friends on Natural Mystic for the duration. It was nice actually…we slept outside in the cockpit. While laying down for bed that night, I realized it would be our only full night spent sleeping outdoors in 7 months of sailing. Unbelievable, right? It did rain 3 times, reminding me why sleeping outside isn’t always the best idea in the tropics, but now that I’m sitting in 35-knot winds in 40-degree weather, I am reminded of how cosy it truly was, rain or not.
Jason and I joined up with Geoff from One Flew Blue on Sunday to do the cross-island trek in Raro, and we had a great time. Frank and Karen kept their own pace, but we all finished within 3-5 min of one another. I took one spectacular slow-motion spill and somehow ended up upside down with my legs in the air, perched on a plant stump, essentially standing on my head and left shoulder. It was the driest day we had while there, but still the mud proved a bit of an adversary…for me anyway. I don’t want to know what that track is like when it’s raining. The view from the top provokes some very serious vertigo, only to be beaten by the vertigo I experienced perched atop the crow’s nest on the 120′ schooner Infinity the following night. It seems that in my old age I’ve developed a fervent “respect” for heights. I almost couldn’t bring myself to climb down from Infinity.
We spent our final evening on the docks breaking it down to our new friend Teva’s hip-hop beats recorded straight from Huahine, hanging out with the crews of several boats we’ve mentioned in the past couple of days, and supplemented by the crew of Picton Castle, which had pulled into port the day before. Chris on One Flew Blue graciously lent us his scooter for our ride to the airport, and we were Auckland-bound by 1:50 a.m. I must say it was strange not to have a 24th, but it felt even stranger when I realized my week had no Tuesday. Today is Wednesday in Auckland, so for those of you readers back on the East Coast, that means we’re 8 hours earlier than you, but we’re a day ahead. Example: 8 p.m. your time on the 24th is 12 noon our time on the 25th.
The first thing we did after shivering ourselves to bits on the doorstep of the Uenuku Lodge for 2 hours while waiting for the office to open at 8 a.m. was seek out a hairdresser. Jason chopped off his frizzy ends, but retained as much length as he could. (Sorry Cammie!) I cleaned off a few inches as well and am currently reveling in my tangle-free tresses.
It’s been drizzling rain almost non-stop since we arrived, but the city is breathtaking, if uncomfortably cold. Our neighborhood is trendy and artsy, home to the offices of such players as Warner Bros. Music and BBDO. There are small boutiques, cafes and bars all around us, and it’s within walking distance to the city center. The homes in the area are largely old Victorians or wooden bungalows, packed tightly together with neat gardens in front. The streets are hilly, and there are lots of people walking around. Jason says it reminds him of West Seattle. From our window we have a perfect view of the Sky Tower and the waterfront.
Tomorrow’s goal is to get registered with a service so we have a permanent address in NZ. Then I can register for a tax ID in order to start working. It’ll also allow us to register the car I’m hoping we’ll have found and bought by next weekend sometime (10 days from now). The car will be a huge help because then I’ll have somewhere to keep the extra shoes, long sleeved-shirts and jackets we’re going to be hauling around come tomorrow or the next day. Our bags are small, and they were packed full when we arrived. I’ve already determined that my backpack-converter kit for my duffel bag rates as a “worst buy” for the trip, so that’ll be in the trash as soon as I find a suitable replacement.
The next stage of the adventure has begun, and we couldn’t be more excited at what’s to come.