Monday, March 3, 2008

1990 - Part 1: The Journey to New Zealand

When I wrote about the year 1991 I realized I really wanted to write something similar for 1990 in order to keep hold of those memories I still have of that year. I know it's going to be LONG and therefore have split it up into several parts. I'm not quite done writing it, as I keep thinking of more details to put in, but I felt like posting part 1 today.

In order to fully capture the 'spirit' of 1990 I need to start with a few events of 1989, and as I remember too little of that year to write about it in full, I hope you'll allow me this digression.

During 1989 my parents had talked to my sisters and me about the possibility that we might be moving to New Zealand for a year. My parents had friends there, and they'd always been fascinated with the country, so when the company my dad worked for were talking about starting a branch in NZ, and asked my dad if he'd go help them set up, he jumped at the chance. We spent most of the summer talking and praying and learning about the place, and one day in August dad called home from work. I was the one to pick up the phone, and still remember the conversation.
Dad: Hi Maria, do you still want to go to New Zealand.
Me: YES!!!!
Dad: Let's do it then!

Now followed 3 very busy months of packing everything together (we would be renting a furnished house, but would of course still need our own clothes and some playthings etc., besides, we were renting out our house while away, so everything valuable had to be packed up too), making practical arrangements and speed-learning English. Not that I knew much when we left, but I could at least say "I'm from Denmark, I don't speak English" ;) (funny to think of now - I have difficulties remembering a time I didn't feel fluent in English.

A couple of days before Christmas we'd packed up the entire house, and moved to my Mormor and Morfar's place to stay there the last few days and spend Christmas with them. I hardly remember any of those days, except that this was where Nina and I started calling each other Sigurd and Sigurt (don't ask me why, I honestly couldn't tell you), we slept in the same room and I scared her by telling her made-up ghost-stories and jumping on her when she least expected it.

On the 26th (we were to leave on the 27th) Morfar took us out for a long walks in the forest so we'd be properly tired out and be able to go to sleep early, and Mum and Dad allowed me my first (tiny!) glass of wine with dinner - also in an attempt to get me to sleep early. Of course it didn't work, I was FAR too excited.

We arrived at the airport very early on the morning of the 27th. I seem to recall our plane scheduled to leave at 6'ish or something like that. So imagine our surprise when we arrived and the airport was EMPTY! No check-ins open AT ALL. We were told to sit with Mormor and Morfar and then Mum and Dad went around, trying to figure out what was wrong.

Turned out that the flight we'd been placed on wasn't just cancelled - no, that'd be too easy - it was a flight that only left in the summer! Well done travel agency! Sheesh. Fortunately we had quite a few hours to spare in London, so Mum and Dad found a different flight we could get on, and even though we were 2 hours late leaving Copenhagen, we still caught our flight in London without (as far as I remember) any problems.

From London we flew to Miami, Florida. I honestly don't remember much of the place, as we were only there a week before flying on to Orlando. Here we spent three magical days in Disney World - two in the Magic Kingdom and one at the Epcot Center. Ever since then I've wanted to go back, because I think I missed out on SO MUCH by not being able to understand English at the Epcot Center. We celebrated New Years at Disney World... or rather, at our hotel just outside Disney World, as us girls couldn't stay awake until midnight (we were VERY jetlagged) so Mum and Dad toasted the New Year with Sprite in plastic cups ;)

While in Florida we also visited Cape Canaveral, which was absolutely fascinating, but again, I wish I'd actually understood English.

On January 3rd we left Florida to fly to Hawaii. This was truly amazing. I wasn't old enough to realize how touristy the place was, but definitely old enough to realize "I'M IN HAWAII!!!!" I don't know about other places, but in Denmark, at that time, Hawaii was the place to go.

And we had a great time too. We stayed at a hotel right by Waikiki Beach on Honolulu and played on the beach practically every day. Some people noticed us, and when they left, gave us their inflatable water mattress as they didn't want to be bothered with it on their flight home. Another couple taught us how to "look cool" and play with our sun-glasses. This couple also saved Michala when she almost drowned. We were at the hotel swimming pool/Jacuzzi and it had a 'bench' around the edge where you could sit and still have your head above water (which is why I think it must have been a Jacuzzi, even though I don't remember). This 'bench' was the perfect height for Michala to stand on and play with the rest of us. Of course the inevitable happened and she fell off the 'bench' into the deep water. The man was quick and immediately stretched out his arm and caught hold of her. She was never in any real danger, but naturally still got a huge fright.

Of course we also went sightseeing, got to experience a luau (where mum and dad were really impressed that it started by somebody saying grace - my sisters and I just got bored with the long prayer in a language we didn't understand ;) ), learned to dance hula, saw a dead volcano and lots more.

On January 10th we left Hawaii to finally fly the last stretch to New Zealand. As we'd be passing the date line, Rebekka had been very adamant that we didn't skip the 14th - she still wanted her birthday! We flew first to Auckland and then jumped directly on a 'pencil plane' to Palmerston North (how funny, I still remember the book I read on that leg of the flight! I didn't realize that until now!) where my parents' friends, the Martis family, waited to welcome us and get us settled.

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