So after 30+ hours of travel, my little sister Gabrielle and I successfully made it to Napier, New Zealand with all four 70-lb bags in tow. We arrived to my little apartment complete with ocean view, and I felt so relieved to find that the place actually matched the photos I had seen online. Even in the rain, Gabrielle and I were determined to stay awake and make full use of our day in order to get on the correct time schedule.
I started unpacking in an attempt to get settled, but I felt quite out of place. My brain couldn’t relate this experience to anything else. I feel like I’m on vacation at a little beach condo in I-don’t-know-where, but I keep having to remind myself that this is New Zealand, this is my apartment, and I do not have a return flight home. I hate to admit that I immediately craved the internet (which had yet to be set up at my place.) I felt so far away and just wanted to shout to my mom and dad, “I’m here! I made it!” just to feel somewhat connected to the rest of the world.
After some unpacking, Gabrielle and I stared out the windows admiring the unreal view and noticed a farmer’s market happening right across the street. So we walked over and grabbed some fresh apples, "courgettes" (zucchini), green beans and eggs. Then we hurried to Starbucks for some hot chocolate and incredibly slow wifi, to let our parents know we were alive.
Napier is a really neat little town chock-full of history. It was destroyed by an earthquake in the 1930s and rebuilt in the art deco period. Yesterday actors strolled around outside the old Masonic hotel dressed in “Gatsby” attire , taking photos with tourists in their old fashioned cars. I felt like I had stepped back in time… or maybe MGM in Disney World?
Finally we tooled around town and walked down the promenade, spotting little boutiques, pharmacies, coffee shops and bars that will soon make me feel at home. I must say, I picked some prime real estate for my apartment. Everything I need is within walking distance. I’ve already found a pilates studio and a large grocery store, where Gabrielle and I picked up some essentials. On the walk back, we found a very cool restaurant/café called Ujazi with a cool bohemian vibe just oozing into the street. The food was delicious and the atmosphere was fun and friendly. I’ve decided this will most likely be “my spot”.
As we reached the apartment, the sun finally decided to come out. It revealed the true blue-green color of the ocean, and we couldn’t resist going for a walk. The beach was made up of smooth black pebbles that felt like reflexology under my toes. We laid in the rocks and took in the scenery. In the distance we could see rolling green hills surrounding our little cove. I felt so glad to have Gabrielle with me. I don’t think I could have survived the day alone, and she was the perfect calm and sensible traveler.
Laying on the beach, a wave of tiredness set in. We decided to retreat to the apartment and attempt to watch a movie. I could hardly keep my eyes open. It was about 8p.m. and the sun still wasn’t even close to setting, so we closed the shades and went to sleep in the daylight. I was thankful for the exhaustion. It kept me from dwelling on the reality of being so far from home or missing my parents who I had grown quite comfortable staying with over the Christmas holidays. ;)
As I lay in bed this morning while Gabrielle sleeps, I wonder what the day will bring. Every now and then I have little worries about when she leaves. I’m sure this journey will be full of excitement, fear, probably a little bit of homesickness, but hopefully a lot of growth, adventure and life experience. Now it’s 8am, and the sun is already high in the sky. Although I have yet to witness it, I have a feeling it doesn’t get very dark for very long in the summer. Looking forward to today’s adventures!