So yesterday’s post was a bit of a ramble of thoughts and I thought today I might try to sit down and put keyboard to screen about what it’s been like for our first week in a new country. First off, it was a very sudden and emotional goodbye to friends and family, especially for me and the girls, as we originally planned to only follow a couple of weeks after Edgar left.
But miracles still happen and we were blessed enough to travel together as a family instead of him first and us later. And after travelling for 28h30 hours with the four kids in tow, I am ever more grateful that we were able to do it this way. Edgar was more than capable to handle the older three girls requests and excitement while I could focus on settling Talia and taking care of her needs. The older three stayed up most of the night on the plane, we only boarded at 22h20, watching movies and playing games. We thought it might be a good idea to just let them do that as we were flying to a country 10hrs ahead of us and in retrospect I think this is probably what saved them from suffering from too much jet lag in the end.
Talia slept in the on board bassinet for a while, but after some turbulence I had to take her out and she stayed sleeping on my lap for most of the rest of the night. By the time we landed in Dubai the next morning I was exhausted, but the girls seemed in good spirits and not too tired. Luckily it was only a 2 hr stop over in Dubai, just enough time to disembark, have a loo break and find our next boarding gate. It all seems a bit fuzzy still to be honest…
From Dubai we traveled another 16 or 18 hours to Melbourne. Talia was getting slightly restless by now, having been sitting on my lap for most of the time and we thought it a good idea to put her on the floor by our feet to move around a bit. She was rather happy with this, until one of the air hostesses informed us that this was not allowed. We were both baffled. For some reason they deem it safer to put her in a bassinet that attached to the wall of the plane, no seatbelt, just a velcro fastener for when they’re sleeping, rather than sitting on the floor. She offered the bassinet for her to sit in, but we declined and my champion husband did a couple of laps walking around with her on the plane. She had a couple of hours sleep again and wasn’t too fussy or noisy during the night. The other three were behaving like well seasoned travellers, watching movies, playing games and sleeping on and off, no complaints. We had to disembark again in Melbourne and this time we were all a bit knackered. I tried to catch a couple of Zz’s before we boarded but didn’t quite get enough rest. Once on the plane to Auckland our whole family just passed out for the most part. I managed to have two breakfasts in between landing in Melbourne and landing in Auckland though, but was starving again by the time we landed in New Zealand by about 2pm. We were welcomed by friendly Kiwi’s all round and didn’t have any hassles getting our luggage. As we had so many carry on bags we waited for the rest of the passengers to exit before we disembarked and ended up having to wait for the crew bus to take us to the terminal – the captain of the flight even helped carry our hand luggage to the bus for us. And because we were on the crew bus we ended up getting to the baggage claim before the rest of the passengers from our flight anyway.
After getting our luggage we got everything balanced on two trolleys, Kayla managed to push the pram with Talia while me and Edgar handled the trolleys. As we exited the terminal an old friend from South Africa welcomed us with a warm smile. And then a Newspaper journalist and cameraman welcomed us with a barrage of questions about our feelings on the opposition party’s leaders’ new policies regarding immigrants! I must have seemed like a fish out of water, gasping for air and trying to find a way out, but they were persistent, probably having had hung around the airport all day waiting for a family of immigrants to pass through the gates. I asked them what gave it away – the amount of baggage or the dark circles under my eyes from travelling for 28+ hours. She smiled and carried on asking about my feelings about the proposed new laws – something I knew nothing about. Eventually Edgar came to the rescue with a more articulate response and the cameraman set up a shot and photographed the whole family. Two days later we were on the front page and inside the local Sunday newspaper.
I got sudden enquiries from friends around New Zealand, and even family in South Africa, asking if we were okay, were we deported, why are we in the Newspaper??? It doesn’t really seem that with the change we’d really be affected as we’ve got our visa’s for at least 5 years and after that we will see what the future holds. You can read the article here. I think they were hoping for more of a dramatic response, but we were way too tired to care…as you can tell by the lovely picture of me after 28 hours of travelling, no hairbrush or toothbrush passed my head or face in the past 18 before this picture was taken… We were then whisked onto a transfer bus, operated by another South African. The kids fell fast asleep on the way to the accomodation while the driver gave me full details on where to shop, where to stay, which schools to look at and general historical info about places and things we passed. My tired brain did not absorb much though….I do know to shop at Countdown and Pak ‘n Save though…
The first night here the kids all went to bed around 9pm and slept for 12 hours straight. Myself and Talia struggled to go to bed, and even Edgar struggled a bit. The first day after our arrival was relaxed at the AirBnb, with a short stroll to the nearest beach and then on the Sunday we faced the public transport system and caught a bus and a ferry to visit another friend in Devonport.
Once again the kindness of people just amazed. People we haven’t seen in over 8 years opened us with welcome arms into their home (after asking us kindly to take off our shoes – no one cleaning up after you here, so leave the dirt outside!) We sat chatting for a couple of hours and got given take aways as we didn’t manage to get to a shop to buy food for the evening or next day. With a packet of pasta and sauce and dessert under arm we got driven back to the ferry. Big hugs and smiles made us feel welcome and eased us into the new country. I will forever be grateful that our first couple of days were filled with familiarity and a general sense of welcoming.
Two or three days later my brain was fried. My memory was wiped clean and I suddenly couldn’t remember names of the suburbs we were looking at moving in to, names of series that I have been watching. Even my childrens’ names sounded unfamiliar in my ears. I messaged my husband the same message about three times and couldn’t make sense of some of the messages I sent him. Jet lag truly kicked in to full gear and I thought I had finally gone insane. Edgar told me to take a rest day, relax my brain and the next day I was almost back to fully functioning again. I take my hat off to Edgar for putting his big boy pants on and going to work by the Monday, only three days after we landed. He’s been amazing in figuring out the transport system and catching the buses to and from work everyday. It’s been an absolute joy to have him home for dinner every night. Me and the kids have been settling in very slowly, having more of a mini holiday rather than starting our new life. Until we find a home we will be relaxed on the home front as we can’t enroll them in school until we know what area we live in.
Talia is struggling the most with the new time zone. Getting her back into a bed time routine has been the biggest challenge this week, with her being wide awake after 8pm and normally only going to sleep after 9pm. Myself and Edgar has been ready to pass out after 9pm most nights now, so I think we are now on Kiwi time. This weekend we will be looking at a couple of houses, hopefully finding one to call home. We do have accommodation booked until the 25th of June, but we would really like to settle in to our own place sooner rather than later. Schools close for holidays around 7 July, so if we can get ourselves settled before then and enroll the kids in school by then it would make things a bit more smooth sailing. Today is a week since we landed. Me and the girls took a 20 minute stroll to the beach yesterday, spent about 2 or so hours there, relaxing and taking it all in. It still feels like we’re just on holiday. A friend from school has lend us a car for the day. Such a blessing. We will be meeting up with them tomorrow and they’ve offered us a bed for the night as we move between booked accomodation. The kindness of people still surprise me and amaze me. We went for a drive today to get to another beach, had a bit of a walk around and then got caught in the rain trying to get back to the car. It was exhilirating and fun. And slightly damp and cold. After work we went for another drive to get some food and the freedom you suddenly feel with having your own transport is rather amazing and liberating. I think we’ll be purchasing a car soon. Having to get out of your car to put your own fuel in was also a new experience, and I had to smile as I thought if Edgar wasn’t with me I probably would have forgotten that I had to do it myself and would have sat in the car like some idiot waiting for a non existant petrol attendant. We have been a bit amazed at the price of things, but been told to stop converting to rands as it would drive us crazy. Earn dollars, spend dollars, think dollars.
As we close out week one of our journey I am grateful. Grateful for old friends, willing to pick us up, feed us, put us up and borrow us cars. Grateful for work. People willing to let Edgar settle in and allow him the time off to open bank accounts and get on with doing what needs to be done to start a new life. I pray for the perfect property in the perfect neighborhood to come along. The company Edgar is working for has kindly given us a housing budget for the first month as well as reimbursed us for money spent to get here, so we have a bit of play room with finances – but we do still have to refurnish a whole house. Luckily there are plenty of Salvation Army style stores here as well as Trade Me to assist in doing that affordably. I would like to say that it hasn’t been as stressful as I imagined it to be, and I truly believe that thus far it hasn’t – except for the temporary memory loss, it really has been uneventful and relatively ‘easy’. I imagine once we’ve settled into normal life the homesickness will catch up and we will truly start missing people, but right now, we are just so focused on doing what needs to be done to have a good life. Adventure awaits!!