Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Let the journey begin!

So finally it was the 29th. How long had I waited for this day? Quite some time. …and yet I didn’t manage to drive grandma totally crazy from excitement. In fact, I find myself really mellow about the whole thing. You’d think since finally the adventure was upon me that I’d hardly be able to contain my excitement. Maybe I’m so ‘normal’ because there’s so many things to try and remember. Even then I managed to forget to take something out of my bag at security! In any case, I’m sure the excitement will hit more fully when I’m in Texas.
The day began when we were driving to the airport. The fog was scarily low and I was freaking out that my adventure would be shortened and interrupted! However, luckily the Wellington mist wasn’t bad enough that we couldn’t fly!

Richard, Chris and Bri met me at the airport (and yay to Hannah, Jasmine, Zerlina and Liz) for coming the night before – so much for 20mins haha).  It was nice to say goodbye to you all, I’ll miss you. Xx

Eventually it was time for me to go past security onto my plane. Except when I did and went to my gate it said Christchurch. Christchurch? This, was not a good start! However, I asked the man there and he let me know that there had been a gate change, to gate 11.

The Air NZ flight was pretty good. Once above the clouds it was beauuuutiful! The sun was shining and the windows were even warm. It was amazing. The soft pillowy clouds below looked magnificent.

I had a really interesting neighbour. She was up for her son’s newborn. She looked like she was good at puzzles. I actually tried the one she had completed on the plane to Tahiti – and I honestly was stumped by the first word. :/ Something tells me I need practice!

I met 2 Aunties in Auckland and that was nice to catch up with them. It was brief, but I appreciated it.  Then I got my bags and they drove me to the international terminal.

When I went to get my boarding pass they seemed confused. I then realised they didn’t know I had a visa and were expecting me to have a return ticket! Phew. Good thing that was not a drama. Then, we went and had a sit down for a while before I had to go.

Once I went through the overseas area gate I had to fill in these orange forms. Except I didn’t know how to fill in the last part – “overseas port where you will leave this aircraft”, was it Tahiti or Los Angeles (turns out it was Tahiti)? I wasn’t able to convince myself of the right answer so I just filled in 2 forms. That was fine, and then I lined up for security. I managed to get all things out that they required except for the liquids I had in a small clear bag in my backpack. So then they had to take them out and re put my bag through again. It turned out ok, but the security guard growled a little. So –sorry- that I forgot that – but at least it was in a clear plastic bag, nothing was over 100mls and I had done everything else – like taken my laptop out and from its bag. I guess I won’t forget next time though.

Once through and into the waiting area it was almost like a maze! I was freaking that I’d get lost or something! Good thing I had about 45mins to kill since my plane was late. So I window shopped and bought some nibbles and a drink since I felt headachy and craved chocolate. When it was almost time for boarding I went down to the lounge. …only to find out there was a further 30min delay. Joyous…

Observing the people whilst waiting was quite interesting though. I found myself surrounded by French. It sort of freaked me out! In NZ you hear the odd language being spoken, but not much. I felt quite out of place, even though not everyone spoke French!

There was this funny kid who got great enjoyment from his plane toy. I took a pic so you could see what I mean.

Once I was on the plane I was amused by how everything announced was done so in both French and English. I was thinking – you know, if there was an emergency that’d be awfully inefficient! How do you tell people what to do effectively when you have to relay it twice? Anyway, it was kind of neat. Not that I could totally understand when they spoke English either, obviously it wasn’t his first language!

I thought that I had chosen my seat on the plane, but it turned out that actually it was random.  So I was in the middle set of chairs. However, I had 2 seats between myself and this other girl, so there was lots of space.

I played with the controller once I was able to, to find that the sound on my was corrupted. So I used the seat next to me for sound. Must have looked weird but oh well.

I thought it was a really nice touch when they came around with little bags of things for us – earplugs, hand wipes (which smelt amazing), eye mask, headphones (oh my goodness they were confusing – a mission to figure out how to put on. You would have all laughed if I was filmed trying to figure it out)… Then they came around and gave us all a really nice smelling flower! A really sweet touch in my opinion!

The food on board was interesting. I actually ate the pavlova despite the fact I hate pavlova! It was put with this really nice syrup and yummy thick cream stuff so it wasn’t bad at all! They were forever asking to fill up our glasses too. I was impressed by the service.

One strange thing I noticed though was that the flight attendants changed clothes 3 times! THREE times! Why, and where do they keep all their spare clothes?!The dresses were neat.

When I stepped off in Tahiti (on the ground, quite exciting!) it was warm!! I looked at the neat shops where everything was in Tahitian Francs (which made everything look really expensive!) and wandered around the outside area they had. I quite enjoyed it. I felt…independent. Alone, but free. The Tahitians were lovely and even helped guide us to the toilets!
My phone switched onto F-NUI which I thought was strangely humorous.

Then the 2nd part of the journey. The 2 meals I was pretty impressed with. They were fancy and I could barely understand what the menu was telling me, but I enjoyed it. This part was long and I tried so hard to sleep. I had 2 seats to utilise but no matter how I tried I was both uncomfortable, and unable to sleep. Usually I’d get close to going to sleep but then there’d be turbulence. I feel uneasy trying to sleep with it because I think, if it gets bad and I’m asleep that could be dangerous….

Anyway so I eventually got to LAX. Woo! I tried to get off as fast as I could because the flight was pretty much packed and I knew if I wasn’t quick I’d be in a line for ages!

Even though I’ve been to the USA several times, I forgot how much of an alien you feel like. People everywhere on their cell phones, people talking loudly, strange accents everywhere, fast food, chewing gum, caps, big logos. Then of course there’s the super grumpy LA airport people. It was as if they despised their job and the people around them. I was lost on occasion and wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing, and they always reply as f you’re stupid. Uh, can’t you tell by my accent I’m not from here? The –only- nice person I encountered (and I had to talk to about 10 security/airport people) was the person who stamped off my visa. Except can you really count him since he was German? It was funny, he asked where in Australia I was from (darn that passport), and of course I said actually I was from NZ. …then he had a big conversation with me about how I thought NZ was and what the situation was like with immigrants. Then he went on to tell me about his friend who went to Disney World in summer, saying it was hot. So yay for him. After he’d finished I told him he was way nicer than the previous guy who had been like:
“where’s your blue and white form?”
Huh? What blue and white form? I was not told of this?
“it’s over there. Go get it and then line up again”
All the while acting like I was some kind of retard. It wasn’t just me though, the girl who I was sitting in the same row as had the same problem.

I told the German guy about that and he was like “yeah, they can’t ever do the smart thing and communicate to people.” So true…

Then I had to pick up my bags. Oh my goodness that took forever. All I can say is that I’m glad I had a flight to Texas with lots of time to spare. When I was waiting for my bags the loudspeaker said “urgent page for Kimberley regarding baggage”
Oh, great. Now what? I thought.
I found the security person who then referred me to another security person. He started asking me all these questions that I didn’t understand! I was thinking, uh, how come I speak English and yet I can’t understand this other person speaking it too? Turned out they were looking for someone with the LAST name Kimberley. How weird is that? I never would have thought of it as a last name…

Then I had to line up again for this person to ask if I had food etc. After that, which was surprisingly quick, they didn’t even seem to check. It was bizarre. Anyway so then I had to follow the signs saying flight connection. I entered this area with a carousel and was thinking, this does not feel right at all! Not really sure what they were doing there but the sign at the end said “no re-entry once past this point”. Uhm, here’s to hoping I’m going the right way then, yeah? :S

I was told of how I was supposed to then walk to terminal 1. Well that seemed simple enough, I managed to ignore all annoying people trying to get my attention and walk that way. Except it was a LOT further than I was expecting! Too bad if you were in a rush, far out!

I finally found Southwest. Only to not see any check in area. What the heck? This is the most confusing thing ever (you need big signs people. BIG.). I went to a help desk and waited patiently whilst this lady was helping this other guy. She had one of those typical Cali accents which is fine when you are being helped, but generally they have a tendency to talk forever, which of course she did. When I finally managed to get her attention she was like “take the elevator to level T”
Ok, a.) who calls a level “T” ? and b.) an elevator? No one told me about this, and it’s not obvious at all!

So I went up the elevator to enter this place with people EVERYWHERE. I tried to figure out what was happening, but I didn’t want to guess wrong. Turns out I was right though, and the line going OUT THE DOOR was where I had to be. Are you –serious-. I could see so many people freaking out who had to get flights about an hour away. Fair enough too!
Man the security lady was super grumpy. These Asian people came up to her wanting help and she was so rude to them! I was like, wow, you would never get treated like that even at McDonalds!

Finally I got to the counter and they were telling me to use this machine thing. I was like, argh. Why can’t a check in person do it? I feel so out of place and clueless!!! However, turned out it wasn’t too hard to work. Labels got put on my bag, then I took them to the TSA area.

..and theeeen I had to go to security. Again. Lol. It’s a SUPER long process.

However. I made it. I survived. Man I should get a t-shirt for my awesome effort. “I survived LAX by myself” ;)

Right now I’m waiting for my connection to Texas. It’ll be good to actually try and sleep on a –bed-. I can’t wait to meet my hosts and BB. Should be awesome!

Wow this was a long day. …and a long post.
Congrats, gold star to you if you read it all.

I am in Texas! It's hue, and much greener than I imagined! It's lovely here and WARM outside. Crazy. Anyway, off to day one of the adventure!
See ya’ll later


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