First, let me assure you that my job search is not dampened by my 36 hours in Nelson on South Island. Now that I got that out of the way... allow me to tell you how much fun I had. My flight on the Air New Zealand puddle jumper was smooth. I sat next to a police detective and we had a terrific chat. I had noticed (hard not to on a small plane) a young man about Tevis' age with a press pass and an American accent. As I deplaned I asked him if he wanted to share a cab into town. Dave and his buddy Chris, with whom we eventually met up, are writers for Deadspin, a sports blog/website. We visited the site of the first rugby game in NZ at the Botanic Reserve and then climbed a wicked hill (mini mountain) to the Centre of NZ. (Not really the geographic center, but the point used by surveyors). Our reward was great views of the very charming Nelson.
Dave knew the embassy staff, or at least the adorable Adriana. So we got into the Counsel General's shindig at a pub called Elsewhere. I said farewell to Dave and headed to the stadium. Nelson did a great job of welcoming rugby fans and there was a Samba band marching down the street having a wonderful time. Noel Cisneros from NorCal, now Nelson, met up with me and we sort of watched the game. We mostly talked about our kids, moving to New Zealand, and our faith. She looked vaguely familiar because she was a tv reporter in Sacramento for a few years. (In case you need more proof for how small the world really is.) After the game, I met her warm and fun family: husband Michael, son Nick and daughter Elena. I especially liked their two dogs Toast and Boo-Boo. It was really great to have dogs to pet. (I forgot to mention that Italy beat USA and now the Eagles are out of the tournament. It was a competitive game and my favorite part was when the stadium did a wave that went around about 3 or 4 times.)
The next day I ended up renting a car to drive to Abel Tasman National Park. I confess it was LOVELY to drive a car and go where I wanted to go and stop when I wanted to stop, just for the day. Lovelier yet was the Abel Tasman. Peter A. of Belfast had raved about it so I was prepared for something special. Afterall, Peter and Tracy have been to Yosemite and other stunningly beautiful places so they had great points of comparison. Rather than try to describe it, I will simply offer Exhibit A: