Monday, February 28, 2011
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Getting to New Zealand consisted of many hours of waiting. My ipod and computer both ran out of their batteries. Again, I was to wait in lines to go through and be processed out of Auckland customs. I had to wait an additional four hours for my bus that only came twice a day to drop off in Cambridge. Waiting on the bus for 2 1/2 hours to arrive in Cambridge. I'm tired of waiting. I want this trip to start!
Sarah is happily waiting for me at the bus drop-off point, which was essentially a grocery parking lot (flashy, eh?) At this point I just need some food and a bed. I’ve hardly slept for three days. We catch up briefly in the car, all chummy chums and then it happens. Pressurized information vomit explodes out of Sarah’s mouth about her break-up and/or everything relating and consisting of it. Being the polite Winlee I am (at first) I listen. And listen and listen. It continues throughout the evening. I wonder what I've just walked myself into while Sarah is praising Christ she has someone to mend her broken heart (or help seal her mouth shut). My ears feel like they are bleeding by this point and my eyes are bloodshot. When I finally excuse my way to bed I can’t even recall laying my head down. Out like a light.
Let me mention Sarah and my very short and sweet past. Sarah, from New Zealand, visited Honolulu in 2008. She had a very bad couchsurfing experience and I saved her from it by letting her sleep at my place and showing her my island. I spent about five days with her in total. She's an awesome chick who was on her around-the-world solo trip. Vibrant, devil-may-care attitude, fun to be around. This was not the same Sarah and I hardly know her enough to deduce the shrapnel that encompassed her.
I wake up and Sarah is gone to work. She works Monday through Friday. Her house is beautiful. Replicated after a Tuscan villa, the red and yellows are accentuated by any amount of light. She has a dog, Moses, who is untrained and a pain in my ass. I'm ecstatic to be in NZ, but It’s rainy outside. This continues for a week straight. Maybe I brought the rain from Portland. I catch up on my sleep the next few days. I’m bombarded by more break-up talk and negativity. She asked me to stay with her for a "while" because she needs the company and is afraid to live alone at the moment. I’m feeling obligated at this point, but I don’t say anything because my plans are up in the air anyhow. She’s supposed to have a job for me at the hospital and I’ve been relying upon that, mostly because I'm not sure where to even start my traveling.
She's introduced me to a lot of her friends because she feels bad that I'm sitting around bored all day. She's also asked them to show me around. All of them are wonderful, kind people.
In one of these instances I’d met a Fijian nurse named Judi whom Sarah worked with at the hospital. She owns and operates a serene property and organic farm with her husband Ian. The first day I set foot on this property I fell in love with it. Fresh hydroponic salad and juicy hothouse tomatoes all surrounded by acres upon acres of wild bush to hike. That first day I also met Jill (whom is now my travel buddy), a WWOOFer (Willing Worker On Organic Farms) from Dallas, who surprisingly has no accent. I was a little apprehensive by her at first, only because she was loud and from Texas, but we eventually connected. Days after we did some hiking and talking,realizing how similar our journeys were wondering if we'd cross paths on the South Island (a place we both planned to end up). We talked a lot about signs and the significance of them in life/travels, which we'd both seen on this particular travel journey. Shortly after we clicked, Sarah asked Jill to join our road trip, a sign in itself.
The journey from Portland to New Zealand was a learning experience. Getting from Los Angeles to Fiji was a fucking nightmare. My flight into LA was delayed, causing me to miss my flight. Normally this wouldn’t pose as an issue, however, there’s a loophole in the airlines’ contract that if there’s a weather delay they don’t have to reimburse you or put you on another flight. I ran across this fucking airport to catch this flight with my heavy backpack. Sweating balls and 5 minutes after check-in closure they still don’t let me in. Looking to book me on the next-day flight, I’m slapped with a $580 fee. Tears are uncontrollably streaming down my cheeks by this point and I’m like someone punched me in the stomach. I work my ass off to save for this trip and because of a stupid airline clause that money is gone is seconds. After begging and pleading to both airlines and speaking to management my ticket status stayed concrete. The only bit of luck I did have was when my friends Jamie and Janice rescued me from the airport that evening. Pay the money or stay in Los Angeles forever. My soul died a little bit with each stroke of the pen signing that hefty receipt the next day.
Eventually the time came to board the plane the next evening. After I take my seat I begin to bawl. I let it out. It just happened and continued for nearly ten minutes. It finally lets up when a stewardess hands me a children's coloring book and smiles. Thinking this was the end of my troubles, I take a deep breath and relax, trying not to concentrate on the amount of money I just flushed down the shitter. Little did I know I was sitting in the middle of this Samoan family whose daughters’ feet smelled like rotting garbage. To top it off they had a crying child and the 400 pound father sat behind me, hindering me from reclining my seat for this eleven hour flight. When we finally landed in Nadi, Fiji where I was connecting to Auckland, I figured I had nothing else to worry about. This wasn't the case and I had to go through yet another baggage check ordeal that took two hours. I’m not exaggerating whatsoever. Boarding the plane to Auckland I was sure something bad was going to happen, but we landed and I survived.
Moral of the story: Get travel insurance when buying cheap flights overseas.
I will never make that mistake again.
I’m finally continuing my blog. It’s taken a long time to get the time and energy to update this thing. Portland had been great to me, and although I still haven’t been able to put my finger on this peculiar city, I’ll try to now.
Since moving to Portland I’ve realized how transient of a place it is. Not many people are actually from there, but more of passers-through or those egalitarians from conservative backgrounds. Many who move to or visit this town come upon many others like themselves. Making friends is far too easy and finding your specific genre of friends is more possible than you think. Portland has something for everybody. It prides itself on that notion. The downside of this place? White people everywhere and the inability to be normal. Even if you come to the city normal I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to leave as the same person. It changes you in more ways than you know, that is, until you actually (and finally) leave this place. Looking back in retrospect I’m glad I spent nearly 6 months there, but this unique city may not be my ideal future home. It’s amazing to look back and realize who I was there…wearing my Buzz Lightyear kicks and neon clothing, roaming around vintage shops, being an espresso snob, and hitting up every possible happy hour in Southeast. The food carts are also “the shit” if I do say so myself. Gourmet peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, French onion soup, and fresh poutine are just the beginning of the endless food possibilities. It’s impossible to even hit up every cart because the good ones are hard to walk past!.
I also want to shout out to the amazing people I’ve met in Portland. You’ve truly made my experience better. The couchsurfing community has been really great to me, and has also been the tree in which I’d begun my friendships. Don has been nothing short of brotherly. I know him and I will be friends for a long time. Katie has also been such an amazing and surprising friend from the beginning. I’m still in disbelief at how easily we clicked. Coffee and breakfast is still not the same without you. There’s a reason, Portland, why people keep coming back to you. Hopefully you’ll keep creating friendships and bringing in weirdos for years to come. I will definitely pass through this place again to see friends, eat some good food, and drink some great microbrew