It’s All Happening at the Zoo

I made it to Auckland yesterday morning at 5 am New Zealand time after a long, but uneventful, day of travel. Well, almost uneventful, because what’s travel unless you find your heart racing at some point. I worried my bags on the Detroit flight would somehow not be off-loaded in Los Angeles and continue on to Hawaii without me. That didn’t happen, and even better, check-in at Air New Zealand went quicker than I anticipated. The eight-hour layover was a little tough, but I was able to complete work in the crazy LAX terminal. After sleeping more than I ever have on a plane, I arrived in Auckland feeling rather full of myself that I had crossed the ocean without incident. Almost.

Somehow I dropped my phone in Passport Control and didn’t notice until I arrived in customs and wanted to call Carrie. Here’s the heart-racing part. I know I put the phone in my purse- it’s not there, and checking the same pocket five times is not going to make it reappear. I check my carry-on, knowing full well that I did not stick it in the backpack. I can feel the panic start. I know my over-organizational nature is just a cover for trying to control my external world, and it backfires when things get out of place. I can feel a meltdown begin.

I would have retraced my steps, but once you are through Passport Control you have crossed the Styx River. Welcome to Hades. If this was Chicago, I would have little faith of ever seeing the phone again.

But this is New Zealand. Of course the Customs person will call the Passport Control office and, yes, they found the phone, and certainly they are bringing it down to me- no worries! Nothing short of a miracle. My angels were on the job.

Miracles two and three happened at the Auckland Zoo. Carrie had classes to teach all day at the college, so I walked to a cafe for lunch and then Ubered to the zoo. Thankfully, the Auckland Zoo is not as monstrous as Brookfield Zoo in Chicago, and it has great exhibits. My favorite is always the giraffes. The temps were a little cool, perfect for getting fresh air. Rain kept threatening and there was an occasional sprinkle that would quickly disappear, and then the sun jumped out, creating a full-sky rainbow. Full rainbows are good omens. I only remember seeing two other full-arch rainbows in my lifetime. Probably an everyday occurrence in NZ, but a small miracle to me.

Carrie has lived in Auckland for three years, been to the zoo before, and spent time in the “Night” exhibit, hoping to spy a kiwi. The kiwi is by nature extremely shy, nocturnal and easily scared. Even in captivity, it’s hard to catch a glimpse of them. Carrie has never seen one. I’m here just eight hours and I got an entire show of the kiwi mating ritual, including some rather hysterical running back and forth on the part of the male. It was awesome. Carrie declared this a miracle.

All in all, a great first day, except for one disappointment. Walking around the zoo, I found myself frequently crossing paths with a young Chinese couple, both of us taking pictures and lingering at certain enclosures. Many of the animals were sleeping in the mid-afternoon, so no tremendous activity, with the exception of the kiwi. After walking alone for some time, watching the capybaras in solitude, I noticed the couple ahead of me, at the Galapagos Turtle exhibit, intensely watching something through the glass. I hurried over. As I walked up, the young man turned to me, eyes wide and said “They just finish make love”.

What? And I missed THAT? It certainly would have been a miracle to see gigantic turtles breeding, and there definitely would have been photos. But, even though the day was still miraculous, you will have to make do with a rainbow picture.

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