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Christchurch airport follies

Whew. I am sitting waiting for the plane to Auckland, it was a comedy of errors this morning. A nice and extremely talkative shuttle driver took me and my “boyfriend” Dan to the airport. While I was booking the shuttle a few days ago, Dan was standing outside the office eavesdropping. Turns out he is on the same flight as me, and if we booked the shuttle together from the hostel we would save money. The woman at the desk told us to pretend to be a couple so she wouldn’t get in trouble. The Kiwi driver talked almost the whole way telling us about his family’s long history – quite fascinating in fact. His last name is Brewerton, which is a multi-step bastardization from Le Briton (i think) to Brereton to Brewerton. His great ancestors were English gentlemen, but one of them was executed for high treason after being accused of committing adultery with the barren wife of Henry VIII. You know the story, she wasn’t producing so Henry needed a reason to give her the axe. Mr. Brewerton was collateral damage. So the descendents got the double red diagonal line through the coat of arms and were banished. Off to America! Our driver not only has relatives up and down the east coast of America, he has copies of letters sent between them dating back to colonial times. This is the kind of talkative I don’t mind at all.

When we got to the airpot, I unloaded my surfboard and got my pack from the trailer in the back. The shuttle drove off as I put the pack on. PIcking up my surfboard I thought, oh this isn’t so bad at all. Then I realized that was because I was missing my little backpack which would be hanging in front of my breasts impeding easy movement. I dropped my stuff and went sprinting off across the diameter of the roundabout, chasing down the shuttle. Luckily he pulled over, not because he saw me as I thought. I caught up and startled him. He said he almost always looks in the back before taking off but forgot to this time. One disaster averted.

In the line for Qantas Air, I had my bag all tied up and my surfboard packaged inside bubble wrap, towels and my wetsuit inside a board bag. The woman asked me if I had a round-the-world ticket. Um, no? Then I would have to pay for the surfboard. What? I had called a few days before and the person on the phone said it was no problem bringing a board along. After some consultation it became clear that BOTH my bags had to be under 23 kg, not EACH bag. And I would have to pay $10 for every extra kilo. I was hovering around 31kg – $80 extra. So I pulled off to the side to transfer some stuff out of my pack and into my carryon which was very light. Just taking my hiking boots out saved me 5kg – 50 bucks! After some shuffling, pulling out my sleeping bag to carry, I went back up to the counter and another woman checked me in. With no question, she handed me my boarding pass. I glanced uneasily in the direction of Qantas Lady #1, feeling like I was getting away with something. She noticed what was going on and as I slowly scooted away, I heard Qantas Lady #2 (my favorite) responding to her that they were only 25kg together, so I was fine.

No one was going through security, so that went smoothely. Until they found my knife. Oops! I forgot to take out my fold-up camping knife and put it into my check-in baggage. The security man suggested I could go out to the post office and mail it to myself. I declined. This was enough for one day, he could keep the knife. Sorry, Berger (and Rich), but your gift is now in the proud hands of a Christchurch Airport security agent. All part of the costs of travel. My kind of travel anyways. As Rod said to me when I returned to Villa Rustica to find at least three articles of clothing I had left in various places, “You are a little scattered, my dear.” One of those items was my favorite shirt, the one with an army of bicycles in the shape of a fish eating a Hummer. If I can accidentally leave that behind, I can lose anything.

Gavin never made it out to the airport to say hello/goodbye. I spent most of the time drinking coffee and re-writing the last gargantuan post. So if you go back and re-read the last post, you will get a different story. Better, I think. What I usually do is a kind of stream-of-consciousness first draft, then go back through the entire post recomposing. The last post I didn’t have the energy for the second go-through that night sitting outside of Charlie B’s, so I just posted it as is.

Once in Auckland there was a little bit of a walk from the domestic terminal to the international terminal. Dan, my fake boyfriend, was transferring over to a flight to L.A. He was lucky enough to have his bags transferred through. I had to collect mine and carry them over to the other terminal. Seeing me struggle across the crosswalk, he stopped and offered to carry my board. It was manageable by myself, but not quite pleasant. Very nice to have a little help.

I am on the plane now to Sydney. Frost/Nixon is our in-flight movie, which excited me because it was one I wanted to see. But between my stuffed up ears and the plane noise I can’t really hear the dialogue. It was too frustrating so I gave up. Maybe I will watch it when I get back to the states.

Eva called me right as I was about to get on the plane to Auckland. She seemed unconcerned that I gave away the car. I don’t know if she will even go back through Port Chalmers. She had just gotten off the Kepler track, where she said she had great weather. A cool kid, I hope we keep in touch. One thing that struck me about her was the multiple times she brought up the idea of “letting go.” A common spiritual theme in my life for some time now, I tend to notice when the topic comes up. And wonder what path brought the person to those thoughts. She talked about the lesson of letting go that being tossed around in a crashing wave teaches. This practice in letting go was one of the first spiritual principles I recognized in surfing. There is nothing like the ocean to show you how little (if any) control you actually have. And the more you let go, relax and let the wave take you, the better it tends to go. Fighting it just expends a lot of energy and oxygen which is best conserved. Especially if once the wave has passed you find yourself having to swim back up to the surface.


  1. Welcome to Sydney!

    Hope you didn’t have any airport arrival follies. I remember Sydney as a nice city. The harbor cruise was pleasant, as was a day trip to the Blue Mountains. Looking forward to your next post! Dad

  2. Sounds like a great start to a new adventure in a new country. Hope you find some nice weather and some good waves. Love Mom

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