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City Girl Adventures in Greener Pastures

Arriving in New Zealand... Here we go..!!!

NEW ZEALAND | Tuesday, 4 January 2011 | Views [427]

After a 13 hour flight from Los Angeles, the captain tells us the plane is descending to New Zealand.  So I groggily lift the window shade and my heart skips a beat as I look at the most amazing view I could imagine.  Green, soft rolling hills kissed by bright blue seas instantly woke me from my exhaustion and fill me with awe and excitement.  I keep staring, thinking how come I've never seen this before?  Is this a painting?  Is this a movie set?  Did I actually get on a plane and decide to live, work, and travel here for a couple of months?  Boy was I pleased with myself. 

I hopped on a bus to take me to the hostel where I'm staying at in Auckland, unsure of what to expect.  I honestly believed I'm the only person doing this, you know, travelling alone, living out of bags, and going with the unknown.  So when the bus driver dropped me off on Queen Street, at "Base" I felt pretty silly, but also pretty relieved that I had plopped right in the middle of central backpackers area.  Backpackers left and right, looking tired, kinda dirty, probably hungry, or drunk. =)  At this moment, I realized I'm a bit of a fish out of water.  Girl from Las Vegas, with her leather jacket on, WAY too many bags (2 suitcases and a backpack I thought was pretty good!) and not enough knowledge about what it's like to be a traveler.  It almost felt like the backpacker culture was some sort of gang and I need more street cred to join the crew.  So my first step was to take off my hoop earrings, go minimal, no makeup, messy hair.  It was liberating.

The area I was in in Auckland was pretty much like any other downtown, metropolitan area I've seen.  There was a mixture of all kinds of people, young old, businessmen, construction guys, students, etc.  Big buildings, banks, clothing stores, electronics, fast food, lined the streets.  I arrived in my dorm style room with six beds, feeling like I was a freshman back in college.  My first roommates were three Israeli guys who all had long curly hair and played in a band.  Didn't really bond with them - they slept most of the time.  The Kiwis I did encounter everywhere else, are the nicest, friendliest group of people I have ever met.  Everyone makes eye contact, smiles, says hello when you're walking down the street.  This was the first major difference I noticed between our cultures.  It's not very often I come across genuine kindness and joy coming from a stranger, for no reason whatsoever.  For example, I forgot to bring a towel on my trip so when I went to a small market (7-11 type of store) I asked where I could buy one.  This lady overheard me and told me the name of the store to buy it at.  My face must've been painted with such a look of confusion because she offered to walk to the corner of the street it was at, even though it was four blocks away.  When we arrived there, she pointed at it and I still must've looked like a lost puppy dog because she decided to walk me to the store instead, into the aisle where they sold towels, and found the shelf where they lived.  Working in the hospitality industry back home, we were always told to go above and beyond, walk a guest when they're looking for a place, don't just point... But we were told to do that, paid for it, and even then, I'll admit to being lazy and not providing that kind of service.  I could not believe how nice this person was.  Then it happened again.  I went to buy a toothbrush and did not have the exact change and the vendor said, "Don't worry about it.  Would you like some free candy?"  I thought to myself, "Where am I?" and what gives with these people.  It's amazing how cold and jaded we can be that small acts of kindness comes across as shocking.  I figured out that because New Zealand is so beautiful, waking up to this kind of background must affect their moods and just make everyone happy.  They should spread out all over the world.. infectious kindess and joy brought to you by the people of the Land of the Long White Cloud.


Tags: auckland, backpacker, kindness

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