But I must use today's 30 minutes to say how grateful I am to be on this trip. I have always had an itchy foot and a taste for seeing the new and different, and wow, is this a dream come true! I am so grateful for Julia, my friend and travel companion. We are, so far, enjoying perfect harmony and even having parallel reactions and thoughts to many of the experiences. It's a blast. The group we are traveling with is filled with really nice people. They are all passionate about the stories of JRR Tolkien and the films by Peter Jackson, and having that in common immediately breaks the ice and makes for pleasant hours of travel.
New Zealand is a really special place. I've wanted to come here specifically ever since my parents hosted an exchange student from Auckland when I was in college. In fact, one of the most special moments so far has been an absolutely wonderful, if very short, reunion with her. There were tears, reminiscences and gratitude for a connection forged over a very short amount of time together, but that has had a place in my heart for since 1985. We found each other on facebook a couple of years ago and so I let her know I was coming. She went to a lot of effort to come meet me on the day of our arrival and I will always treasure the love I felt from her in that sweet hour.
So, before my time is up, here are a couple of images just from the first couple of days, which has already been enough to fill up my senses. The air is different here, the seashells are different, the customs are different, but the love and companionship of friends both old and new is the same, and that, I can tell already, will be a main theme of this trip.
|Elisa and I.|
|Seashells from the other side of the world.|
|The view of Auckland downtown across the harbor from my hotel.|