Some of you have probably gotten this email already, if so… I apologize!
I just wanted to inform everyone that I’ve arrived in New Zealand! After 2 years of planning this trip, it’s finally happened. I’m currently in staying in Wellington. Tomorrow is the first official day of field camp, and we’ll head to the South Island. The flight over here was “only” 13 hours long, but actually went by fairly fast now that I think about it. Unfortunately, I was only able to sleep for 4 hours.
We landed in Auckland at 4:45am local time (7:45 Pacific) and then I took a short flight to Wellington and landed here at 8am local time. Since then, I’ve pretty much just been walking around the city and exploring downtown and the wharf. There are a bunch of kayaks out on the bay and I was thinking of renting one.
The weather here is PERFECT. Not many clouds in the sky, about 74 degrees F with a light breeze. Apparently, Wellington is a sister-city of San Francisco. It makes sense when you look at the geographical context of both cities: excellent natural harbors, built among (and on) lush green hills. Even the people (though most are on holiday this week) are quite friendly and laid back. Oh yes, even the transients have the same charismatic one-liners that their San Francisco counter parts have. “MAN! You’re a lucky punk! Want to trade?” yelled one person to a guy in a car with his attractive girlfriend. One person I talked to mention another uncanny similarity with SF: Very few people in this city are native to Wellington.
And for my Bay Area friends… here is another AMAZING similarity that I randomly found today. Apparently, there is no relation to the SF/Berkeley restaurants.
I’m also noticing an abundance of Subways (food) places here. Within a 10 minute walk of my hostel, there are 3 of them. Every time I see one now (especially since I’m in a foreign country), I can’t help but laugh at Mitch Hedberg’s joke about how when he offends people overseas, he feels as if the Subway is an American Embassy of sorts. I’ll have to keep that in mind. There is also an abundance of internet cafes within the same radius. I counted 6 on my way up the street.
For those wondering about the time difference… we’re 3 hours behind, but one day ahead. So as I write this, it’s 1:22pm on the 27th here. Back home in California, it’s 4:22pm on the 26th. The other thing that’s going to be crazy to get used to is the fact that they all drive on the wrong side of the road. I really need to remember which way to look. Doesn’t seem like it’d be too bad to get used to, but old habits die hard I suppose.
For Dan: While they drive on the opposite side of the road and the driver’s seat is different from ours, the setup with the clutch is exactly the same. Clutch on the left side. However, the stick shift is on the left side as well. That’d be weird to get used to. (In my unscientific sample earlier this morning, I noticed the majority of cars parked around downtown were stick shift).
It’s weird… I really can’t believe I’m basically on the opposite side of the world. It’s quite crazy. Of course, all I have to do is look at the side of the road people are driving on and I know I’m not dreaming. 😉 The weather itself is so great though. It feels like an awesome San Francisco / Berkeley early summer day. Exactly like it! That alone makes it feel like I never really left California. When we landed in Auckland last night though, I know I had the biggest, cheesiest grin on my face that I actually made it here. Awesome. 🙂
Tomorrow morning, we take a ferry to the South Island, where we’ll spend the next 3 weeks before returning to Wellington. From there, we’ll spend another 3 weeks on the North Island… and then it will be time to go home.