We got packed up, and off we went.
Getting to the Sydney was a snap, now that we are savvy Opal card snapper jaw train masters.
There’s really not too much to make fun of for this part of the trip. We did security, we got on the plane, we left on time, I had a nice chat wtth an 80 year old gentleman sitting next to me who’d moved to New Zealand in the 50s and never looked back.
Cold pork salad? Sounds like something Dirty Sanchez would have for lunch. I had that and as you might imagine, it sucked. And I only got one drink. And we didn’t check bags, so The Works was not a savvy choice.
|Three lovely Air New Zealand Sheilas. Or are they New Sheilas?|
There’s a two hour time difference between Wellington and Sydney, so by the time we landed, the day was pretty much shot - we’d lost two hours by the clock.
I took some pictures at various stages and you can look at those and think to yourself ‘This is a really boring unfunny post - but look at that scenery!’.
|Approach in to Wellington New Zealand|
We made it!
We took a cab to the hotel - the regal sounding James Cook Grand Chancellor. The room was… weird. All the fittings were… weird. The beds were as soft as a politician’s promise - falling through. There were no outlets by the beds. Everything was worn. The thermostat did nothing other than turn on and off the system.
We had a couple of cocktails and I did some writing and then went to the restaurant to eat. There was a nice quiet one in the lobby with a few tables and chairs, but the waiter Sheila I talked to basically discouraged me from trying to eat there. They were short on staff. But there’s another restaurant on the 17th floor. There were others ahead of us. But there’s another restaurant on the 17th floor. It’s going to be a long wait. But there’s another restaurant on the 17th floor. We’re closing very soon. But there’s another restaurant on the 17th floor.
Finally I’d had enough and told the guy ‘I know when I’m being told to fuck off. Goodbye.’
Up to the 17th floor I went. I had two choices. I could have buffet for $55 or I could order off the menu. I got a table and opted for the menu. The chef’s specialty was a lamb dish, and I was in New Zealand, which is carpetted in fresh lamb. So I ordered that. $45.
My entertainment for the evening was a large group that was celebrating something or other. Periodically they’d burst into song in a foreign tongue. They also burst into Happy Birthday - I sang along and picked a name out of the blue ‘Happy Birthday Dear Per-cyyyyyyy’.
After half an hour, the lamb arrived. It was all fancied up with baby this and reduction that and foam fluff this and ecru puree that. And it had lamb on top.
After 7 more minutes, I was done. I’d eaten everything on the plate. And I was still hungry. $45 for six bites of lamb - was I back eating airplane food again? What a ripoff.
On my way out, I experienced something that lamb money could not buy. The party was breaking up and I found out that some visitors from Taiwan were returning home in the morning. The meal was a Maori (I think) send off. Thirty or forty people were in attendance and gathering to go home, saying final goodbyes, singing final songs.
All of a sudden, a young man of perhaps 11 or 12 started screaming at the top of his lungs.
He stomped his feet, left then right, then left, then right - kind of like a Sumo wrestler.
I felt like I was witnessing a traditional ritual dance that had been passed down to him, and he was demonstrating it for the family and the visitors.
It was mesmerizing. In an instant, he stopped, frozen and immediately burst into sobs. I knew just how he felt. It’s difficult for kids to be put into the spotlight like that, and when you open your emotions to full creative expression, you also open the door to other heavy emotional reactions, like tears.
He was immediately swarmed and hugged and coddled and applause and cheering washed over him.
It was an astounding gift and I felt privileged to witness it by complete luck.