Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Sinking In

G'day from New Zealand!  (Actually, I think the g'day thing is pretty much unique to Australia so that greeting makes about zero sense, and would probably anger the Kiwis who seem to have a bit of an inferiority complex when it comes to Australia, but I digress).

I received a request from my most loyal and enthusiastic reader (hi Mom!) to update my blog more frequently in the interest of keeping her from worrying too much when I'm on the other side of the Earth, so this post marks the beginning of my serious attempt to comply.

Downtown Auckland and the harbor in which I'll be swimming in next week's race
I arrived in Auckland yesterday morning.  Of course, my yesterday is today in America and I'm writing from America's tomorrow.  I'm still struggling to get my head around that one.

From the time I left the house in Columbus until the time I got to the place in which I'm staying in Auckland, it was about 29 hours with layovers in two cities.  So that was fun.  Actually, for international travel, the process was fairly painless.  I had a little assistance from the Lunesta gods (best choice I've made in a while), got some sleep on my overseas flight, and all my luggage made it to Auckland.  That counts as a win in my book.
So far, I'm digging New Zealand.  Auckland is a clean and beautiful harbor city that reminds me a bit of the Pacific Northwest, except with better plants, more sun, and cooler accents.  I'm staying with my friend Adam, who has lived in New Zealand for about two years now, and his girlfriend, Pip, who's a native.  Yesterday Adam took the day off work to show me around the hood (they live in a suburb about 15-20 minutes outside the center of the city) and downtown Auckland.

They're getting ready for the race
As if that wasn't enough, he also agreed to do a little open water swimming with me.  Of course, he's a Super Speedy Swimmer with ocean swimming mastery, while I'm significantly less speedy and really don't know what to do about waves or currents or that nonsense, so when I say Adam swam with me, it's more like....he swam nice and easy while I sprinted to try to keep him in sight, swallowing gallons of salt water in the process.  Close enough.

Takapuna Beach, where we did our swim
Adam and Pip are the extremely generous types and their hospitality has made all the difference.  Throughout my travels, every time I've gotten to a new location, there's been a serious adjustment process and days of feeling overwhelmed with the prospect of trying to figure everything out.  Not so much here.  I'm on the whole other side of the Earth, and I'm only in my second day, but I feel like I've already got my feet under me, and that's in no small part due to Adam and Pip.  They're giving me a place to live, even a car to use (!), they've fed me and shown me around, Adam woke up early this morning to ride with me....the list can go on and on.  I'm a lucky girl.

And really, I have been incredibly lucky for months.  Since I became essentially homeless in late July, there has been a long series of amazing friends who have taken me into their homes, allowed me to disrupt their routines and their lives, treated me like family and made me feel comfortable and welcome.  Some of them are reading, some are not, but I hope they all realize how much it means to me.  I said in my last post that I wasn't big on New Years' resolutions, but I think one of my late-blooming goals for 2013 is to somehow figure out a way to be as generous to others as so many people have been towards me.  I've got big shoes to fill.

Anyway.  Back to New Zealand.  Of course it only took a day-and-a-half here for me to do something totally dumb that put me in harm's way (don't worry, Mom, this isn't that bad).  I've known with travel that there are going to be perilous situations along the way.  I have no sense of direction, so of course, I'm going to get lost a lot.  Naturally, in strange lands, I'm going to struggle with language things.  Flights will get cancelled, accommodations will be different than expected, luggage will get lost.   None of this is that unexpected.  They're expected perils, if you will, and I've always got some sort of backup plan.

But, in all my planning, I never really thought through how I would handle it when I became trapped in quicksand.

Here's the scene:

This is about a 5 minute walk from where I'm staying

I went to a local park today to lay in the sun for a while, and that water looked awfully inviting.  Adam told me he'd done some open-water swimming in that area, so I grabbed my cap and goggles and headed down to the water for a quick little swim.


That muddy-looking sand stuff?  Quicksand.  A few steps in, I sunk to my shins.  Then my knees.  I just kept trying to move forward, physically having to use my hands to lift my legs up and out of the mud to progress.  But it just kept getting deeper, and I sunk in all the way up to my thighs.  I started to panic.  A group on the shore was laughing at me as, in slow motion, I just kept struggling to yank my legs out of the mud, fearing I was going to pull muscles in this extreme resistance training, worrying about what would happen if I sunk in deeper.  I kept moving forward towards the water, figuring that eventually it'd be deep enough for me to swim.  I felt just like Super Mario of the Super Mario Brothers, and we all know what happened whenever he landed in quicksand. It was a nightmare

Eventually I got to the water, was able to swim along the shore to a more stable area where the quicksand looked less wet.  Walking back in, I only sank to my knees.  Much better.
Only knee-deep on the way back in
So, there's that.  I almost died in quicksand.  Seriously, act a little surprised. 

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