Made it to the New land of Zea. After an arduous number of flights and traveling through space and time (I lost all of Tuesday), I arrived in the Auckland International Airport. I have been in many airports, through many passport checks, and many customs. Never have my hiking boots been the reason for an inspection. I get that New Zealand is very conscious of livestock diseases, foreign matter, and invasive plants that might stow away on camping or farming equipment, but a pair of boots that haven’t been worn in over a month and were last used as winter boots in a city? Oh well, everyone we incredibly friendly and my boots were cleaned and returned to me. I feel like it was more work for them that I declared that I had in fact packed my hiking boots to go to a country known for its hiking trails.

Aside from an additional 45 minutes in the airport (which in the scheme of things isn’t much, but after all that travel is more annoying that it normally would be), customs and security was efficient at getting foreigners into their country. Another new experience for me was upon exiting the secure area into the arrivals terminal, I was suddenly thrust on stage. Well, it wasn’t a stage, but it sure like it. There is always a crowd gathered at the arrivals door coming from the secured area. Most of the time the eagerly awaiting crowd are kept at bay by a rail or rope,  sometimes even a natural buffer zone appears so that the arrivals aren’t crowded and overwhelmed. In Auckland International Airport, there is a rail and behind the rail are rows upon rows of seats. My sweat stained pits (it’d happen to you too, don’t deny it), disheveled hair and general mystified look were instantly put on display for the audience of waiting people. Yes, yes I know that no one gave one moments thought about me (I do realize I am in fact not the center of everyone’s universe), but it still is an uncomfortable feeling to have rows of people facing you when you are just wanting to breathe non re-filtered air.

Once I had survived the gauntlet, I was greeted by a New Zealand early Spring day; chilly, wet, grey. It was a rather drastic change from the hot, humid, drought that I left behind in Springfield.

Outside the terminal we, my boyfriend and I, grabbed a shuttle to my second cousins house. We were warmly greeted by a friendly face a wagging tail and a cup-a. We had a few hours to relax before another visiting second cousin and her husband came back from their tourist adventures and then finally the second cousin whose home we are all staying in arrived.

I had never met these cousins before, but the warmth and welcome that was instantly showered upon me felt wonderful. There wasn’t any real special attention to me as a guest, but more of a welcome home, now want to help make the salad? It felt great.