We woke at 3:20 am, an hour that gave us just enough time to rub our tired eyes, gather our fully loaded backpacks, and close up the campervan before our taxi arrived to take us to the Auckland Airport. Our flight was at 6:10 and we needed every second of the two hours we had at the airport to get ourselves on board. Our flight was with Aerolineas Argentinas, an exotic burst of Latin flavor on our thus far Maori/European spiced travels. I booked the flights online from Utah, paid for them by phone, and was assured that all we had to do was show up at the airport in typical e-ticket fashion. What ensued shouldn’t have surprised me.
“Thank you for your passports. Now I need your tickets.”
“Oh, we have e-tickets.”
“There are no e-tickets for this flight.”
“Um…ok. Did I mention we have e-tickets?”
An hour later a somewhat fussy, definitely fancy airline employee emerged with paper tickets and no apologies. I might have wondered if I had made some mistake if it hadn’t been for the poor woman behind us. She had purchased tickets for the flight, also online, for some 20 odd family members, but the airline had somehow neglected to actually book them. They promised her a refund, but that did little to pacify her. How, after all, was she to get all these people, at least 2/3 of whom were inexplicably checking at least one, if not eight, oversized comforters, home? The rather unsympathetic airline man apologized but told her there was little he could do. They could fit 2 of her party on the plane, but the rest would have to wait until the following week. What? What universe are we operating in? I think we were lucky to emerge unscathed.
Four hours later we were in the land of Oz, Sydney to be precise. Six hours later we were barreling toward the Opera House in a rental car, a sleek, silver Toyota Tarago, which we call a minivan but Australians call a “people mover.” We had planned on staying at one of the Starwood Hotels in Sydney for 5 days of sitting still, working on schoolwork, and writing about New Zealand, but circumstance/destiny, our chosen companion on this trip, intervened. Hotels were sold out, rooms were pricey, and there really wasn’t that much that we wanted to do in the city with the little ones. We took the ferry to Manly and played on the beach until, in typical Australian fashion, a dangerous creature spoiled our fun. As the kids dabbled in the surf, the voice of a jovial lifeguard voice came over the loudspeaker and announced that unless swimmers had an exceptionally high tolerance for pain, they should leave the water in deference to the bluebottle jellyfish that were drifting into the bay.
We shuttled back to Sydney oohing and aaahing at the spectacular views from the ferry and sprinted to the Opera House, which Dax, McKane, and I toured. Tom and I spent quality time and money at Bennelong, the Opera House’s resident 4-star restaurant last summer, so he was willing to herd the small ones outside during our peaceful hour of fascinating architectural exploration.
My mind sated with dreamy visions of rich, narrow-planked eucalyptus walls and comfy seats of lush magenta wool, I hopped into the People Mover with the posse to begin the short trek to the Blue Mountains. Next time we’ll catch an opera I thought to myself. Next time.