The long journey home was made even longer by a storm in Denver that saddled us at LAX, forcing us to return to the terminal even as the plane was set to take off. We were only delayed a couple of hours, but at DIA we passed a line of people forced to reschedule that went on for blocks. We were tired but felt the pain of all those people who are delayed by a full day in getting to their destinations by a storm that shut down DIA for a mere one hour. Our national transportation system is a complex interdependent web, and I marvel at its efficiency.
At home we were under a foot of snow, so digging out was hard work. We had a guy come in and plow while we were gone, but he left a pile of snow blocking access to our back yard. I’ve carried back a traveler’s’ bug that has been nagging for over a week, and fatigue is one of its symptoms, so running the snow thrower and hacking away at a pile of ice chunks blocking access was a mighty chore.
New Zealand is a beautiful place. My brief exposure to its news media left me with the impression it is heavily censored, like ours. What coverage of world events I saw in newspapers was the London viewpoint, and their TV news was heavily focused on sports and local crimes and accidents, which are few. So passive observers in that place will know very little of the world, just like here.
People are nice everywhere, very nice. Food is bland (but my point of view is tainted by my gastrointestinal baggage – nothing had any appeal). At LAX I had chicken quesadilla and a glass of Chardonnay and my taste buds were awakened … spices! Hispanic flavors! I’m home! Fleeting are the joys of life, however, as the bug allows only brief periods to savor such pleasure.
My overall impression … New Zealand is like the Swiss Alps, beautiful, and like Switzerland, a land mostly unaffected by passage of violence in world events. This leaves a soft people not used to troubles. There are 4.5 million people there, and 28 million sheep (not double-counting). The World Cricket Tournament is going on there now, and that, like our Super Bowl, dominates the public mind. It’s a silly place.
But so beautiful. Two days before leaving I was going through photos on my camera, getting rid of duds. One photo was taking a long time to be erased, and I suddenly shrieked a Homer Simpson shriek – I was erasing the entire trip! I quickly removed the battery, but too late. Every photo gone. I don’t take great photos, just point and shoot, so no great loss. On Milford Track it was too wet, so I left the camera in the pack. We bought ninety photos of that Shangri-La and others have emailed us some of theirs. And we have a few stored on the iPad and iPhones. And as my wife says, it only means we have to go back.
Fine, but I am going to smuggle in some spices. Those people do not know food.