I am back home, back on Benisland here on Great Barrier Island, since Saturday. The trip from Germany was exhausting and lengthy and I will keep my remarks about flying economy and via Shanghai at bay, because it wasn’t any better than the trip to Germany. Too many crying babies, too many people utterly indifferent about considering others and manners, hardly any sleep, not enough space and just way too lengthy.
If I ever fly via Shanghai again I consider trying the following two things. i) sit right next to a Chinese at the gate and shout into my phone for 2 hours straight, pretending that I’m speaking with someone. ii) in the plane; repeatedly step on people’s feet sitting next to me, rock their chairs every time I want to stand up or sit, and recline my seat as fast as I can when the person behind me is eating. Then give a fake smile and say ‘sorry’. Oh, I forgot, when the captain announces to turn off phones etc. I play with it until a flight attendant shouts at me to finally turn it off, and undo my seat-belt and stand up immediately after the plane has touched the ground. Seriously, you can end up on a no-flight list solely because of your name, but if you’re an asshole and constantly disregard what you are told by the flight-attendants and abuse every one sitting close to you, that’s okay. But what can you do, punch a woman because she stepped 6 times on your foot during a flight and suddenly your the bad guy…
The fully automated self-check-in at Shiphol Amsterdam Airport was a novum for me. I (had to) even check my luggage on my own, which took much longer than it should have since I made a fool of myself. To make a long story short, sometimes it actually helps watching or reading the how-to, instead of thinking!
Anyway, I made it back to Auckland and went pretty quickly through customs. Quite unusual for me not to be held up, but I have to say the women and men at customs were pretty nice to me and simply accepted my answers instead of questioning them. I had to wait 3 hours at the airport for my flight to Great Barrier Island and yet another novum, I was sitting in the co-pilots seat on the flight.
That was pretty interesting, I learned that you can’t really see well ahead of you in planes when sitting up-front, by that I mean that you’re even during cruising on a slightly upward angle and only see sky in front of you. I had my laptop bag with me and thought of asking the pilot if it wouldn’t be in the way, but since he didn’t mention it, I didn’t. On the runway we both figured out that the bag was in the way, the pilot couldn’t really operate his foot-pedals properly (steering on ground), then just before take off he tried the steering (for the flaps) so I can figure where to put my knees. I kind of liked the fact that he didn’t tell me anything but left it to me to figure out how to sit, where to store my bag so that I’m not hindering him flying the plane. We flew right over my property which gave me the chance to have a look at it from the bird’s eye perspective, I took some videos and if I find a free wire-less network here on the island I’ll upload them.
Well, I’m back and it’s freaking hot, around 28 degrees inside at midday and due to the jet-lag and the transition from winter to summer, I have to say that I’m struggling doing stuff out there in the sun. To the good news: Nothing got blown away, no water damage either, Rani the dog and Momo the cat are fine, Momo was on his own for almost 4 weeks and I’m glad he’s here. My quad runs, most of the garden has survived.
On the not-so-good side, the car makes a funny noise which pisses me off, can’t figure out what it is, it’s not the steering, not the belts, I suspect something with the wheel bearing. Perhaps it’s a funny build up or something got stuck in the break pads. The weeds have grown massively, the house site is fully covered, so are the gardens, I’ve got to get the weed-eater out to sort the driveway out too.
But honestly, I’m experiencing an unanticipated transition period, getting used to the small A-Frame I’m living in, the fact that it is very dry and that the water from the creek is quite murky, the miserable internet connection (Vodafone has installed a mast just recently, but that doesn’t seem to affect my place at all. I’m also less than 1 km away from the Telecom mast which for whatever reason is not on the highest point of the hill where it is located and also faces away from the island. I don’t get any reception from that either. Still relying on the signals from the mast on the Coromandel Peninsular).
Well, there is a lot to do and my goal for this year is to tangibly move forward with the property, increasing my living standards and also moving forward financially and mentally. I had a chat with my friend Al, who took care of Rani while I was away, and I told him that it is certainly not easy getting things done here on the island on my own, constantly feeling that there is no progress, which does affect me mentally. He said something other locals have told me, moving forward here is often surviving. Although that sounds harsh and a bit far fetched, it is true, with limited funds it is all about survival. From an outside perspective it is easy to say, just do this and just do that, I tell myself that often too. Tomorrow I’ll do that, then do that and after that I’ll do that. When tomorrow comes and you get half of the first ‘that’ done and you’re not even satisfied with it, I suppose the right attitude is accepting that you’ve done at least something and progress is progress even if it is very little.
I mowed a bit of the weeds today, wanted to empty two tanks on the weed eater at least. First I had to look for the strap to shoulder it for 10 minutes, constantly tripping over things in the shed , then I got the blade stuck in a net I had completely forgotten about. The grass and weeds are a bit more than a meter high and things get buried underneath them quickly. Then, I managed to hit my water line to the garden which caused a big leak. But hey, got it all sorted and emptied one tank, two more to go and the site will look more appealing…