Detained in customs…

So, where to start? Where did we leave off? Ah yes, getting back from Uruguay. So I got back, and went to a pretty cool piano concert in the Colon theater (If I weren’t typing on a Korean keyboard, there would be an accent in Colon) and then met up with Julio (from Peru) who was still at the hostel as he had not yet left Argentina. So we hung out quite a bit and went and explored some other parts of the city before I left. The final day I was in Argentina, we went to a part of Buenos Aires called Tigre which is where a bunch of rivers come together at a delta and took a boat around for 5 pesos. It was pretty cool and the area was really nice.

But I was in a hurry to get back to the hostel so I could get my stuff together and get to the shuttle service to the airport. We took the train back and got our stuff arranged, I bought a bunch of mate for the proceeding months, and the bid our farewells (again). I was off. To explore new territory. To meet new people. To finally speak English again (even though I would prefer to continue speaking Spanish).

I got to the airport and after checking in and boarding, I was off to New Zealand. I met an interesting couple in line who had gotten married in Mendoza (the wife was from Costa Rica and had family in Argentina and the husband was from New Zealand) and we ended up randomly having seats right next to each other in the plane. We chatted the whole trip and then when we arrived, we met each other again as we got detained in customs.

So let’s explain how that happened. You see, you need a plane ticket out of New Zealand to get in. And I didn’t have one.

“Please step to the side sir. This officer will escort you to the waiting room. But don’t worry, it’s not that big a deal”

“Alright”, I replied. I wonder if this is gonna be a long process. What can they do? Deport me? Yeah. I guess they could. That would suck.

I then met an agent named Jenny. She explained to me that I needed a ticket or proof of funds. No worries. I showed her my online banking balances and she ended up giving me a 3 month visa. According to my balances though, she should only have given me a 2 month visa. But I think I kind of charmed her into it. It feels really good to be able to use your language the way you would use it in your own country. In South America, I couldn’t talk people into stuff very easily with jokes and a big smile. I couldn’t be comfortable enough with Spanish to do that. But here, I can. And it feels so weird. I can make people smile again. I can joke around. It’s like being able to walk again after being stuck in a wheelchair for 6 months (although I got better at managing the wheelchair as time went on). And now I’m back. I have to keep resisting the urge to say “perdon” every time I bump into someone and “quanto sale el internet la hora” when I walk into an internet cafe. I have to get used to an English keyboard again (Those damned quotes and question marks!).

So I got into New Zealand. It was raining. It was cold. And I had to get a taxi to town. How much would it be? Well. $50 New Zealand dollars (1NZ dollar = .71US). Holy shit! Okay, whatever. And then I was there at the hostel. It was 6AM and I was tired. I checked in and slept for 3 hours then got up, went upstairs to the kitchen (the hostel here is really nice) and drank some mate. Everyone looked at me kind of strangely. What the hell was I doing? And then…

“Eh!! De donde sos??!” (Hey, where are you from??), I heard from the corner of the dining room.

And thus I met Gaston, from Buenos Aires, who is working at the hostel to cover the cost of living there while traveling. We had mate together and chatted. This is what mate is all about.

I then went for a walk around Aukland. It looks really nice, but I must admit, I am in a bit of sticker shock. After six months in South America, the prices here seem exorbitant. A coke is like $2US!! In Argentina it was about 33 cents. A meal on the street is about 7 bucks. In Argentina it was about 1.50. I think I may end up losing all that weight I put on after all…

So what else? I bought a new harmonica (In a better note to play blues) and I also bought lonely planet guide books for New Zealand and Australia. After seeing them in bookstores for $50, then $42, I found a used bookstore with each for $30. I also was able to sell my Chile and Argentina books for $15 bucks! Right on! I also found a CD by Johnny Cash that I have been looking for in South America for about 3 months. I’ll have to contemplate buying it for a little longer. Music is very important when your traveling. It makes long distances bearable.

And I just got an email from Simon and they are gonna pick me up from my hostel tomorrow afternoon. Everything is falling into place. Yes indeed. Perfectly.

Anyways, it’s time to do some reading on New Zealand to see what there is to do here. Also, I have to figure out how I am going to get to Australia. From what I gather, I need an exit ticket to get there. So let’s say I get it to China. Well, I need an exit ticket to get there too. This is gonna be an annoying process. Oh well. It’s a good day when all you have to worry about is buying tickets to another country. No?

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