New Zealand

15th March

I got to Sydney without any hitches including a good sleep on my flight with 4 seats to myself! Alas, this was the start of a very long day. I waited at my gate to Santiago via Auckland with my fellow passengers and Duncan (Jojo’s brother) waiting for my text to tell him I had taken off, BUT as time was ticking, nothing was happening. My flight was still “on time” when we should have already taken off but after an 20 mins of confusion the flight was cancelled. Panicked I wasn’t going to get to Auckland before midnight I ran around like a headless chicken trying to find out what I could do. Luckily, a wonderful lady from Qantas customer services managed to get me onto their flight that got in at 23.59 with the added knowledge that NZ were giving an hour leniency for people that were arriving around midnight to get through the airport on the other side. After a solid 12 hours in Sydney airport’s departure lounge I arrived in Auckland (with a well-deserved G&T on my flight ;). Immigration had a very stressful, tense atmosphere, full of travellers and residents trying to get in as soon as possible. It was so tense that a very out-of-it woman at the back of the hall sneezed and the whole room went quiet! I got through easily and waited by baggage reclaim for my backpack that I knew wasn’t going to turn up as it has been handled by 3 different airlines. I gave up and left with only my little rucksack to meet Jojo!

As of now, 9 days into my stay in Athenree, Katikati, 2 hours south of Auckland and a 7 minute drive from Waihi Beach, I have been in self-isolation despite missing the clamp down. Everyone here is a bit paranoid and I have had a big black mark next to my name as an Englishwoman, flying in from Bali, and travelled in Thailand. Even though I am feeling as good as I have ever felt, we are counting down the days that I can get out! Despite this, on my arrival Duncan (Jojo’s brother) and his partner, Kath, invited us for dinner where I requested bangers and mash with baked beans and crumble for pudding to make me feel like I was at home even though Duncan was very unimpressed by my average request for a meal.

Jojo and I have been taking daily walks on the beach, the neighbours, Mike and Sheryl, come around regularly for drinks and are unphased by my potential contamination, so much so I got invited to their family get together last Saturday where I met the whole fam. All the cousins and their banter between themselves made me miss mine! Duncan has let me borrow his car so I can get around by myself and do my own thing (once I am allowed out!). We are now in lockdown so any plans of me getting away have been stumped but it doesn’t matter! I am just very grateful that I am still enjoying another country other than England at such unprecedented time. I am sending big hugs to everyone from the other side of the world and I will see you all soon, but I don’t really know when! Stay positive and healthy and I am missing you all x

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