I was phoned yesterday that there was supposed to be some inclement weather coming to Golden Bay today, and thus would probably not be getting the awesome scenic flight in the 5-seater that I was *hoping* to squeeze in before leaving the country. But alas, the pilot would drive us over Takaka Hill and we could depart in a larger plane from Nelson. Easy? Well, it would have been easy if our car hadn't have randomly shut down halfway there! Prior to SYSTEM SHUT DOWN, I met and chatted with Helen (Takaka Real Estate agent) and Thomas (native German going to Wellington to finish his NZ residency exam, is a Takaka electrician), the two other folks along for the journey. Shortly after SYSTEM SHUT DOWN, we became best friends and will probably end up exchanging Christmas cards and give each other random updates on our lives.
The story goes something like this: There was an instance coming down the hill where I noticed the clock was no longer working, and just as I noticed it, the pilot turned to me and said, "Um, we seem to have a problem. The car is not working anymore." Deciding to cruise to a stop at a small turnoff, he relayed that the belt had been broken for a while, and perhaps that caused other things to happen (um, ya think?). Reaching for his work cell phone, he realizes he's left it back in Golden Bay. Wondering whether we should try our fingers at hitchhiking to Nelson, he finally remembers his boss' number (I don't blame him, I don't remember anyones phone numbers), and we think things are rolling. A taxi from the semi-nearby town of Motueka will come and pick us up, and take us to Nelson. We won't be able to make the 10:20 flight, but we get our booking changed to the 11:20. We wait probably 45 minutes (hence why we are now best friends), and get another phone call saying the taxi driver couldn't make it. Another GB Air employee is driving her own, personal vehicle from Takaka to come get us! By the time we get to Nelson, we have missed the 11:20 flight. To just throw a little juice in the mix, the weather in Wellington has been, and continues to be "MARGINAL"- aka winds at 65 knots. Not something you want to land in... especially not in a small plane. So our third plane is delayed. Almost two hours delayed. I start to get nervous that I will miss my Britta-connecting-but-not-connecting-by-the-airline flight....when we are called to board. In the nick of time, we careen sideways onto the runway (a trick the talented Air New Zealand pilots have mastered for landing in high winds, I guess) and I make it to my flight to Sydney!
I know a lot of people have travel stories from hell, but I just had to tell this one. Not only because this is just leg #1 of a 3 leg trip, but because I actually had a really fun day. I don't think I could have been 'stuck' with two more awesome people for nearly 7 hours! Helen was a smart, stylish, sassy older woman, which perfectly coupled with Thomas' jolly German laugh and concern for all things worldly. We talked about current events (worldwide and in Golden Bay), movies, art, farming, canning (random? it fit in, definitely), and travel. When we parted ways in the Wellington Baggage Claim, we hugged. I can honestly say that I truly hope to run into one or both of them again in life.
But now I'm in a city of far more beautiful surrounds than anything in New Zealand dared impress me with (architecture, bays, parks, mountains, fashion, art, music... and beautiful people (NZ had too much frump going on for my taste)). And guess what? Tomorrow is Mardi Gras. Evidently hoardes of folk from this country and beyond flock to Sydney for the week long spectacular of fun, frivolity, and a whole lot of cross-dressing, all to culminate in tomorrow night's 100-float parade! And I'm here! And I didn't even plan it!
(Did I mention this hostel gives free internet- LOVE IT)