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both feet forward

Today has lasted for an AGE.  In fact, I find it difficult to remember what I did all day – surely it's been two, maybe three days since I last updated.  But no.  One day…day two of the great kiwi adventure: significantly better than day one.  I ate breakfast at a cafe that had fed me free food yesterday (I came in after they'd closed, but they offered me a sandwich that hadn't been sold and was going to be thrown out otherwise – best chicken sandwich I've ever had), and was immediately recognized as a tourist who didn't know what she was doing (I ordered half a shot of espresso, when really I wanted a full breakfast coffee drink).  But, the boys behind the counter were very friendly (and very cute) and accommodating.  Then it was time for the IEP orientation!  Hugely informative and made me feel excited all over again, instead of just overwhelmed. The staff is fantastic, and the services they provide are really top notch.  They convinced me to buy a cell phone, which means that I am now even easier to get in contact with!  The #: 02102239137.  To call from the US, I believe you must first dial 011 + 64, THEN the cell #.  I can receive calls and text messages absolutely free!!  So you all must look at your own calling plans and find out if you can call me or send me texts cheaply at any particular time.

Finished orientation, and stepped out to set up my KiwiBank account(everything here is kiwi this, kiwi that – I love it!) and get lunch.  It was raining, gently, but the streets were full of people, and a street performer was standing under cover on the corner, playing a beautiful, distinctly oriental-sounding song on a guitar.  As I moved along within the crowd, I felt like I was stepping along with the beat of the music, blending in with the people crossing the street and being blurred by the rain; the edges of things were smoothed out somehow.  I could smile at the poeticism of the moment, and for the first time in two days, feel that shiny, tingly ray of possibility and excitement about the trip ahead.

I met four German travelers at the IEP orientation.  Anne, Kathrin, Maria and Andreas.  I am so out of practice with spending time getting to know people.  I forget that this is the way I will make the most out of my time here – by talking and spending lots of time with people.  I'm used to doing my own thing and only interacting briefly.  These four were quite friendly and fun, and we talked for quite a while about our backgrounds and various plans.  They had all met at the airport and were staying at the same hostel, and they invited me to come and cook dinner with them at their hostel!  Such a small thing, but when I was alone in the bathroom stall a little while later, I definitely did a little happy dance.  What warmth, to have plans and people to make them with, even if only for dinner.  

Over potatoes, sausages, peas, onions, mushrooms and eggs (mishmash? yes.), we traded travel stories and talked about being in New Zealand, and struggled through their non-fluent English and my almost non-existent German, and in the course of the conversation, they invited me to join them for a few days!  Anne and Kathrin have bought a car, and the four are driving north tomorrow from Auckland to Whangeri and then on to Cape Rienga (spelling? – it's the topmost point of the country – the place where the blue Tasman Sea and the green Pacific Ocean meet and wash into each other).  I agreed!  I had plans to meet with the IEP travel director tomorrow to figure out where I wanted to go and when, but here was the decision already made for me.  I don't have a job up north, or any info about where I might go from there, but…here's companionship, cheap transportation, and an opportunity to dive right in – to get out of my comfort zones in a major way.  Surreal?  Yes.  But tomorrow I'll be on the sandy beaches of Whangeri…and the day after that, I'll be somewhere else that is beautiful, unique, and completely New Zealand…so really, no worries.

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