Leaving New Zealand

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May 11th 2007
Published: May 11th 2007
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We left Karaka 9:30am. Michelle gave us a lift to the airport. Scott and Michelle had been incredible hosts. (The hospitality of New Zealanders and Aussies will be one of our abiding memories of the Antipodies). From the airport we phoned Charlotte to wish her goodbye. We spent the last of our NZ currency on a t-shirt for me and two tops for Jen. The flight left the terminal on time and we were airborne by 13:30. The food was amazing tasty. The plane was not too crowded. Sunset rushed towards us and many hours later we landed at Tahiti in darkness - it was still 80 degrees at 8:30pm. After a two housr ait we borded a new plane with new crew. In the following 8 hours to LA I managed half an hour sleep , Jen none. Contrary to expectation and all we had read, the immigration staff were polite and friendly - and we were through in 10 minutes. It was about 10am on Fiday morning US time when we got through, having quickly collected our luggage (including the bodyboard I bought in Christchurch). We caught the shuttle to Alamo Car Hire office. It is strange, once the forms are signed you just wander out into the yard and pick any car you want from the size you've hired. We picked a roomy Toyota. We were soon lost but quickly got back on track. The freeways were busy but the driving standards appear to be good and it was easy to drive in the traffic. The number of fast food outlets overwhelming. We couldn't check in till 3pm and were way ahead of schedule because the airport arrival had been so rapid. We found a cafe and encountered yet more friendly Americans. Jen slept in car for an hour. The area around the motel is predominantly Spanish speaking. To take up some time we visited a local supermarket. So many things are sold in huge packs e.g. milk. On checking in we wee pleasantly surprised at size and room features. We were amused watching the valet parking in the neighbouring casino car park. Some people handed over their car only for it to be parked 10 metres away. The positive impression of the motel was confirmed when I discovered there was free wireless internet. Because we were so tired after the flight, against all my usual instincts I went to the nearby McDonalds for fillet-o-fish and chips. Unfortunately I didnt put the lids properly on the drinks and they spilled and then the bottom dropped out of bag at busy road junction. I felt like I complete idiot, as watched by cars parked at the traffic lights, I retrieved the bits that hadn’t spilt to ground. I felt that I'd got my just deserts for abandoning my principles. It was great to get to a proper bed after spending the previous night on a plane. (Actually we crossed the International Date Line on our flight, so we actually had two Friday nights - it all got very confusing when trying to work out where we were timewise.


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