Saturday, November 19, 2011
Day 1 of New Zealand, In Which My Movie Rights Are Severely Curtailed
We did not arrive in New Zealand without a printed itinerary, resulting in our forced deportation back into Australia including immediately buying full price return plane tickets.
What did happen
The check-in person in Brisbane for Qantas warned us that this deportation would happen, and then she demanded that Lara go to a paid Internet station and print out an itinerary. I came in from the bathroom and pulled out the same confirmation sheet that I had to show to another agent to prove that I had paid for an extra bag (they charge you much more if you don't book it online, but then the computer doesn't seem to write it down anywhere).
I then hid the sheet, never showing it to any government representative in New Zealand, waiting for them to cuff me and drag me away as I occupied New Zealand. I don't know if they have a constitution, but it was going to be a memorable ride as they violated what rights I do have.
Well, thank you, Qantas lady, for building up the most exciting legal moment of my life, and then forcing me to watch it drift away, like a Kiwi in the wind. I was going to sell the movie rights as Brokedown Palace 2: Prison Conditions Not So Bad as BDP1, But Still Accidentally Hilarious (working title). Qantas has been going downhill lately. Just recently there was a major stop to all flights because of work problems. People were sleeping in airports. And now employees can't print out an itinerary.
The New Zealanders were mostly concerned with rogue fruit and dirt. They like foreign tourists, but they do not like our contaminants. Many signs showed obtuse graphics of plants and resulting high dollar fines. So we threw everything away. We forgot the trail mix. It was sitting on the luggage at the inspection station. A NZ marine shouted, "We've got a live one. Fire in the hole!" as he hurtled toward the nuts and fruit with a cross between a sawed-off shotgun and a flame thrower in one hand a and a clipboard in the other. The heat caused the halon sprinkler systems to fire off, filling the customs area full of gas. We escaped with nothing more than the charred remains of a hiking snack. There's a reason they don't sell it to you cooked, you know.
Okay, that didn't happen either. Since Broke Down Palace involves drug mules, why not make me a trail mix mule in BDP2? But they let us keep the trail mix, which again ruins the movie options. It was not the droid they were looking for? So what else didn't we have to throw away? Oh, well.
There were some casualties in Australia, too. The extra bag was not that big, so we pushed it to 23 kg each on four other suitcases. When it hit 23.3kg (remember, they can't print an itinerary, so rounding doesn't work either), some stuff had to go. Reusable shopping bags, our full tube of toothpaste, tea, a couple of spoons, a tupperware, some spices, two boxes of jello, saline solution, fish oil, Lara's giant merged gummy vitamin super-vita-ball, and one box of pudding mix. All of this hit the trash as we scrounged on the airport floor to account for the slight changes we had made in our bags after we last weighed. Even before we left the house there were painful decisions. Out went little things that you don't want to have to buy again, and sentimental things, like the years-old emergency backup underwear that had extended many a laundry cycle. I think Garth said it best, “At first they're constricting, but then they become a part of you.” So, yes, I left part of me in Australia, which, if Hervey Bay does not incinerate its trash, will be there for decades to come.
But we made it here fine, and we already have cell phone service (our US numbers goes through to NZ). We want to stay connected with everyone. And also, sometimes we want to be disconnected and discover different parts of the city until we are done and call each other (hint, if you get a cool gift from us, Daniel probably wasn't the one spending hours picking it out). Internet access reminds me a little of our experience Italy right now. There is one spot on the bed that works in the hostel room. Stray just a little bit and it disconnects.
More will follow on Auckland, for the next couple of days, and then the rest of New Zealand. Lara will of course be able to present more than just logistics.
The picture is of the sky needle, not the space needle, in Auckland.