Trip Start Sep 09, 2004
394Trip End Ongoing
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The leaving bash was a belter. I'd only expected a few of us to stand around sinking a few jugs, so it was a pleasant surprise to see the turnout bloom beyond my expectations.
I made it to the airport around 1pm. Jez, Maffu and Chike joined me for a final Heiny and an awkward goodbye. My own emotions peaked the minute the plane levelled out above Coronet Peak and banked towards the north-west revealing staggering views over the Ben Lomond saddle, Moke Lake and Skippers Canyon. Absolutely superb.
I was lucky enough to have my own in-flight entertainment after scoring myself a seat next to two American honeymooners. I got to hear all about their amazing holiday and their phenomenal lives back in New York. She claimed to be a model and an 'actor', with her own incredibly successful business in marketing. He was a highly successful businessman who apparently made all his money 'in finance'. If this wasn't enough (which it wasn't) I got to hear all about how they were both world-class wine connoisseurs with joint stakes in a wine business tailoring events for 'wine people' all over the states. They were both amazing, amazing people - and clearly of the same breed of American who's glazed over eyes look right through you as you're spoken at. They went on their way knowing not a thing about me, but feeling extemely good about themselves, which in turn made me feel even better about myself.
I walked through arrivals at Auckland airport straight into the arms of a big bundle of fresh air: me old Aunty J, who gave me a big smackerooney and a squeeeeeezy welcome. It was so good to see the old bird after all this time. As we were cutting it fine it was straight back to her place to drop off the bags, a quick 'hi' to Ian, then over to Gary and Angela's place at Point Chevalier where people were waiting with food and drinks and fireworks. Bonfire night. It didn't even occur to me. A Saturday evening too, so people everywhere were enjoying mass gatherings and belting out their big celebrations. We had a super night and met some great new people. Interesting people. Not as amazing as my two American friends but with honest wholesome lives, great senses of humour and genuine intentions. My kind of people. The tucker was fit for a king and everyone became acquainted as the sun set behind the trees. Perfect.
We got back to Jackie's around midnight - knackered - and I retired to my bed for a long cool night in 'Cuckoo Cottage', the garden shed. It was just the intro I needed for hitting the road again. Pure class..
Couchsurfing experience No 1: Jackie Goodison