01/14/2010, Whangarei, New Zealand
Returning to New Zealand is the closest thing to coming home. We have said it before, and we'll say it again, we love it here. The moment we stepped off the plane, retrieved our long lost luggage, and embraced our dear friend from m/v Karma, we lowered our shoulders, relaxed our jaws and settled in to Ataroa. Laughter was abundant while dining at Portofino in Devonport, an Italian restaurant run by a group of Yugoslavians, as Richard and Krista spoke their native language over carbonara and veal marsala. The bond of friendship amongst sailors, specifically cruisers, I can't talk about the global racers, is something that runs really deep. Maybe it's the weather we suffer through together, the language barriers, the little villages we navigate, whatever it is, it feels like family whenever we are together. Mushy? Yes. Reality? Yes.
After a very nice sleepover on Karma, a nice spacious powerboat, we hopped a bus to Whangarei about 3 hours north of Auckland. Again, we had huge, long, tight hugs awaiting us at the bus stop by Julie and Geoff from s/v Flashback. These guys actually rejigged their touring schedule to overlap with us. How great are they? About a month ago, they flew to NZ and left Flashback at a marina in Fiji. Within minutes, we drove to s/v Dosia to find Margie and Drew, one of our favorite couples afloat. Although they are fast approaching their time to deliver their newly sold boat to Australia, they played hooky and escorted us to Friendship Yachts to see our initial reaction to Zen's new hull color. "Stars and Stripes Blue" was exactly what we had hoped for. The color was perfect! Tom describes Zen as 90% done, but the last 10% is the hardest to wrap up. That sums it up.
Today, all our buddies left Whangarei via airplane or boat, sadly leaving us to zero in on our unfinished boat projects. Every morning, we depart our hotel and drive our rental car into the boat yard, to the long list of "must do's". If my sinus infection miraculously went away, this private time with my hubby would be even more enjoyable, but it lingers. And, I tried to convince myself this month away from our kids, who opted to stay with our best buddies in PA, would be a 2nd honeymoon. It's very hard to adapt to life away from my kiddos. Two years of being within 50 feet of one another was something so special, unique and precious, it's hard to be a hemisphere away. Until we reunite in Florida, I'll praise Skype and email which keep us connected to Cammi and Cole. Meanwhile, everyone in friendly, familiar and warm Whangarei keep asking us where our children are. It's nice to know they fondly remember our appendages. Who can I nurture this month? My new friend, a cuddly, excited, hyperactive 11-week old fox terrier puppy named Godzilla, who lives at the boat yard...that's who! No photos of Godzilla, but new albums and photos are posted...take a peek.
01/08/2010, Los Angeles, CA
How did my electric toothbrush, written about in last posting, make it to Auckland but I am still in Los Angeles? Tom and I, delayed out of Newark Airport due to mechanical failure, failed to make our connection in LAX. Continental Airlines sent our luggage on an earlier flight, and proceeded to send the bags all the way to Auckland...without us. Isn't that a security breach? Luggage without owners? Don't ask. Serendipity played her hand in our our unexpected delay in Los Angeles. Our good friend, Maelisa, just happened to be making her bi-monthly trip to LA. She found us a hotel, took us on a celebrity house tour, and gave us a full-on LA dining experience to remember.
At an outdoor Italian restaurant at the Grove, we gabbed and gawked at the paparazzi and the parade of LA inhabitants, which gave plenty of entertainment. The photo of me and Tommy was shot right after we witnessed a "Crying Game" encounter. Hysterical. After being in the remote islands of the Pacific for a year and half, it's surreal to be in this one-of-a-kind city. We really had a blast even though Tom was suffering from a sore throat and head cold and I enjoyed an ear-clogging sinus infection. "Make the most of every detour" has become our motto and boy, did we ever. Tomorrow we board our flight to Auckland, with a connection in Fiji. What are the odds we'll get stuck in Fiji? Place your bet in the comments section below. Grin!
01/07/2010, Newark International Airport
An electric toothbrush! Yes, this is a huge upgrade to my life and my mouth. In June of 2008, after making a plea to Tom, he refused me bringing my Sonicare on our global journey, claiming its excessive power draw would be a problem. The addition of a solar power booster, as part of Zen's New Zealand spa treatment, allowed the toothbrush to be happily packed in my luggage! Yup, it's the small things in life that really make me smile.
We're boarding our flights from Newark to LAX, then Fiji, and finally into Auckland. Upon arrival we get to lower the boat back into the water, re-rig the mast and boom, test the new Cuben fiber sails, which are super light and so easy to manage, and play with another electrical device...the electric toilet! This is just a portion of our jobs next week. Hours of work, sure, but in the 80-degree temps, it's work we'll welcome. For some reason, the New England weather took it's toll, and although the snow made for a gorgeous white Christmas, it's the sunshine we crave now.
Our dear friends on Karma will be hosting us for a night in Auckland, before we hop a bus to Whangarei, where Zen, newly painted, is gleaming in her shed. Maybe the shine of her paintjob will out-flash my clean teeth!