Well… It has been exactly one month since I arrived in New Zealand. I really have been dreading this day, not because I’m home sick or anything, but because I am lazy and really don’t like writing blogs. So here it goes, I am not expecting a Pulitzer Prize for what I’m about to write, and neither should you
I arrived in Auckland lacking money, a phone, or a ride to the hotel I booked. This was rather overwhelming at first because the clear solution to my problem would be to visit an ATM, buy a SIM card for my cell phone, then call my hotel for a ride. As I approached the ATM, I realized I had forgot to call my bank before boarding the plane and I really was out of luck. After convincing a skeptical Kiwi to lend me her mobile phone, I had the hotel shuttle in route.
Once I had checked in and made it to my room, I knew I needed to rectify the situation before it became an even bigger problem. After consulting with the Indian lady at the front desk and, because it was Sunday, we came to the conclusion that I would have to go downtown to buy a sim card. At this point you may be asking yourself, why doesn’t he just ask the hotel to use their phone to call his Bank? Well, because I was penny less, and hotels near the airport like to nickel and dime the customer for all they can get, I obviously didn’t have enough money to make an international call or gain access to their Wifi. I left the hotel feeling puzzled. With very poor instructions from the front desk, I began my walk to the bus stop. As I marveled at my new surroundings, I stumbled upon the golden arches them selfs; McDonalds. I walked into the glorious establishment with nothing more than a shred of hope, hope for free wifi. It was not misguided either, because I was able to connect to the Wifi, call my bank via Skype, and was cleared to use my card.
I had completed one of my tasks, but still needed cash for the bus fare to make it downtown. As I sat at the McDonalds table googling ATM’s on my phone, I realized that before you pay with a card the cashier asked you “ Any cash today?”. So with a purchase of a very mediocre meal, I walked out of McDonalds with 60 very used New Zealand dollars. I then made my way towards the bus stop without a care in the world, but still lacking an active phone.
One thing that I would like to preface before I continue is that I have never used public transportation in my life. As some of you know, I am from Montana, which has no real need for public transportation system because there is simply not enough people. So when I arrived at the bus stop, I stopped and studied the bus schedule and came to the conclusion that, since it was Sunday, the downtown bus was not running. With this in mind, I blindly jumped on the next bus that arrived, told the driver to take me to the nearest open shopping mall, and set off into the abyss. After about a half hour ride the driver pulled up to the Westfield shopping mall and told me to get off. I then exited the bus, walked into the shopping mall and was amazed at what I saw. Sitting literally 30 feet from the door was a Vodafone kiosk occupied by a bored man playing, what I can only assume to be angry birds on his phone. I walked up, told him what I needed, and the job was done; simple as that .
With all my task complete and half the day left, I set out to see Auckland via bus jumping. I got on and off 4 buses until I reached my destination: downtown Auckland. It was pretty neat to have made it to downtown Auckland in such an unorthodox manner, but I was still faced with the daunting task of making it back to the hotel before dark. I understood that I could not get back to the hotel the same way I arrived so, as a quick solution, I phoned the hotel and got the bus number that would take me back . With this information, I boarded the bus and began my epic journey back to the hotel. After about an hour I still had not made it back to my original stop, so made my way up to the front of the bus and asked the driver if the stop was close. With a monotoned voice and a stone faced expression, the bus driver told me construction had closed that part of the route, and he would let me off at the nearest stop. I jumped off the bus and realized that It was now me verse the rotation of the earth as I attempt to make it back to my room before dark. Luckily, It was only about a fifteen minute walk and I made back into the room just before the darkness fell over the city.
After successfully making it through the tribulations of that first day, Eric did in fact make it to the Blue Mountain Adventure Center, where he is currently volunteering and learning about outdoor leadership.