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Roger and Helen, a couple I met on the way to New Zealand

Roger and Helen, a couple I met on the way to New Zealand

So the Air Pacific flight finally lands mid afternoon in Auckland, New Zealand and I am a bit exhausted from crossing numerous time zones and a couple of days in the space time continuum.  I pick up my back pack and make my way to a courtesy phone, where I contact the Go rental car agency and they send a shuttle to pick me up; sign the necessary papers; and I am on my way.

. . . Not that simple. Umm, the Kiwis drive on the wrong side of the road. I haven’t driven on the “wrong side” or left side as they refer to it, since I was in Great Britain back in the mid ’70s. Consequently, on the job (OJT) training was the order of the day.  Well, sort of. I did drive around the compound of Go Rental and a few other warehouses owned by other businesses for 10 minutes before I was confident enough that I wouldn’t signal a turn with my windshield wipers. Ha! I did  numerous times.

Finally in New Zealand

Finally in New Zealand . . . A conquering hero? Nope, just tired 🙂

Regardless, it was do or die, and I got on the road and of course, it’s my luck to come immediately upon a  “State” motorway, similar to what we call a freeway or interstate in the United States. Nervous?  Naah, not the kid.

I was too busy to be nervous.  Between the OJT driver’s training and reading this complex map with many street turns and twists, who had time to be nervous?  I just hoped this map would get me to Haven Home Stay, where I would be staying with Paul and Gill Ashurst.

Admittedly, I did get lost 1-2 times and had to double back a bit, but finally was given some invaluable assistance and directions by two ladies whom I spied getting out of their vehicle in this residential neighborhood I somehow managed to get lost in. So, without going into too much minutia, I finally ended up at Haven Home Stay. Yay for me.  Added bonus – I didn’t hit anyone, nor received a ticket from the Auckland Police Department.

Paul and Gill Ashhurst

Paul and Gill Ashurst

Gill's kitchen, where delicious baked goods and other gourmet delights are created

Gill’s kitchen, where delicious baked goods and other gourmet delights are created

Gill met me at the door with a hug and a warm welcome.  I dropped my back pack off in the room she said I would be staying in and then she gave me a tour of her home. Her home was beautiful! She also showed me her back yard, which was manicured and well maintained.  I found out Paul, who is an engineer, did most of the remodel work of almost every facet of the house, e.g., kitchen, bedrooms, bathrooms, etc. He is quite a craftsman to say the least.

Gill invited me to sit in on the deck in back, where she had prepared coffee (French press no less), as well as some mouth watering cookies and brownies, which I gobbled up.  Hey, I had been living on airline food for the last two days, so I had an excuse to act like I was starving!

Later, Paul returned from a fishing outing and joined us for conversation and coffee. After a while, I went back to my room, unpacked my belongings, then shaved and showered . . . I was exhausted, but I was beginning to feel human again. Primarily due to the graciousness and kindness of Gill and Paul.

I again joined them in the living room, where Gill offered some more coffee and delicious desserts.  Despite all the coffee, I slept like a baby that night.