Falling for New Zealand

    This time last year, I was attending a music school in New Zealand.
    Within the seven months that I was gone, I met some amazing people and did some memorable things. From day one, the trip in all its entirety, was one giant adventure.
    In New Zealand when a plane lands it doesn’t pull up to a terminal. You get to walk down the plane’s actual stairs! If you don’t quite understand what I mean when I say that, just imagine some famous person walking down the stairs of their luxurious private jet.
    As exciting as this was for me, since it had been on my bucket list since forever, I’m sad to say I didn’t exactly emerge from the plane as gracefully as I had hoped to.
    In my head I was going to glide down the stairs oozing charisma and grace with every hair in place. It was going to be so beautiful, everyone would turn to admire my exquisitely entrancing entrance.
    There were a lot of people in front of me and I impatiently waited, ready to get my first look at this foreign new world.
    My excitement only grew as I got closer and closer to the exit. The smell of grass, the ocean and freedom was emanating from this beacon of light located under the exit sign.
    After 24 hours of traveling I was ready to properly stretch my legs out, and feel the solid ground under my swollen feet.
    After what seemed like a lifetime of waiting, it was finally my turn to get off the plane. I had been looking forward to this moment for two whole years and it was finally one step away.
    I took an obnoxiously loud deep breath that caused some of my fellow passengers to look at me funny, tightened my backpack straps and took the plunge.
    Fresh air replaced the stench of the sweaty guy sitting next to me who chose the spicy Mexican food for dinner on a 14 hour flight and my face was hit with a cool refreshing breeze from the ocean that was 25 feet away. It felt like I was flying as I took that step.
    Unfortunately, the feeling of flying quickly turned into a feeling of falling. I was jolted out of my reverie as my face rammed into sweaty guy’s back.
    Somehow, my foot had gotten caught in the little crevice between the airplane and the stairs, and I fell. That tiny tiny crevice is barely even an inch wide!!
    Because gravity never seems to take a vacation, my fall had seismic repercussions. I had caused a domino effect and 20 some people were jolted forward. Everyone turned to see what had caused the disruption, and I just stood there with my hands up helplessly with a horrified look on my face.
    The entire moment was nothing like I had imagined. I had some dried fruit on my shirt from dinner the night before, and my breath smelled so bad I could taste it. My face was dry, and half my hair was falling out of my messy bun, the other half a frizzy mess.
    After everyone was done glaring at me, some sweet lady gave me a wet wipe and pointed at my face. She patted my hand and continued on her way.
    In four little words, I was a mess. We all had to get on buses that took us to the terminal. I was hoping and praying that the bus would be too full and I would have to get on a different one filled with people I hadn’t just shoved. But again, luck was not with me.
    I was the last person to walk in before the doors shut. Everyone moved out of my way  as if I had some infectious disease and they were afraid I would touch them.
    Because I’m a whopping five feet one inch tall, I could not reach the stabilizer rail hung from the ceiling. Imagine someone surfing arms out, wide stance swaying back and forth trying to keep their balance, but take away the water and throw them in a cramped bus. That was me with an oversized back pack on trying my hardest to stay in an upright position.
    After the bus ride, as I made my way to customs I managed to trip at least eight more times, run into a couple of people and almost knock over a giant potted plant.
    To this day I still blame the flight for my poor equilibrium. Humans were not made to be in such high altitudes for long periods of time!
    After getting my bags, and going through the many mandatory stops, I made it to the pickup area and saw the most beautiful sight. There was someone holding up a sign with the name of my school.
    I don’t really remember much after saying, “Hi, I’m Christi! I just smuggled some almonds from America into New Zealand.”
    As badly as my body NEEDED sleep, it was only seven in the morning New Zealand time, and if I didn’t want jet lag, I would have to stay up another 13 hours.
    That was a pretty rough day, but I can proudly say that I survived. Against all odds I made it to New Zealand in one piece with all my luggage. I had successfully made what can fairly be categorized as a clumsy but memorable entrance.

Christi Christner is website manager, newspaper reporter and part of the production team at Johnson Publications. E-mail: imperial news@jpipapers.com or visit her blog: anxiouslyawaitingthejourney.com.

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