New Zealand Trip Continued

6/17/2012 4:30 AM (NZ Time)

I successfully boarded the flight to New Zealand after a tumultuous connecting flight.  The flight from Houston to LA touched down at 8:45 PM and I needed to board the 10:30 PM flight to Auckland.  Seemed like a realistic task…After the typical jostling and waiting characterizing the de-boarding process, I finally escaped the congested, claustrophobic aircraft around 9 pm.  I exited the security area and made the poor choice of hopping on an inefficient bus shuttle headed for the international terminal.  After crawling at a speed close to a slow walk and a few panicked phone calls/texts with my older brother/travel partner, I made it to the security checkpoint at 10 pm.  Yes, you read that right, 10 pm.  The bus ride, over which we traveled a little more than half a mile, took an hour!  Luckily, I was able to quickly slide through security and barely make the flight.  Houston Bush Intercontinental>LAX.

The plane flight was long, but not uncomfortable.  It’s rare to be free to think about, watch, read, or listen to anything you want.  Thousands of feet above the vast Pacific Ocean is about as close to untouchable as one can get.  This is solely in the metaphorical sense, as you’re never less than a few inches away from the next passenger.  The near cuddling with a complete stranger juxtaposed by the complete mental separation is a unique experience.  Thoughts are completely one’s own and other passengers’ thoughts are inaccessible.  Comforting.  Makes you wonder if people move to large cities in order to replicate this crowded solitude…Flight attendant says it’s time for our final descent into Auckland—excited.

Day 1 New Zealand Travel Journal

Image

The journey begins

Friday June 15th 6:17 PM Houston Time

Travel has officially begun with the endless maze of security checkpoints, boarding passes, and mediocre food.  Friday is a popular travel day, I notice painfully long lines.  This has been the norm for over a decade now  The airport has transformed from an exciting and mildly stressful place (pre 9-11) to a regimented, un-enjoyable ritual.  I can remember being excited to travel by plane as a child.  I do not think my children will share the same passion for air travel.

The first leg of our travels is from Houston to LAX.  I’m interested to observe what kind of people travel through LAX.  Without a doubt, the most interesting airport populace belongs to Portland, Oregon.  Passengers range from eccentric, intellectual types (usually wearing tighter fitting jeans, black rimmed glasses, and the women usually sporting a colorful, non-traditionally patterned bag—completing the look with a book dealing with abstract yet socially relevant themes) to fiercely independent, rebellious beings covered in tattoos, piercings, and dyed hair.  It’s interesting that such an ethnically homogeneous place contains such a wide tapestry of people.  A stark contrast with Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport.  The airport terminals teem with ethnicities of every type.  Despite this undeniable ethnic diversity, most people dress in the pragmatic, casual fashion that characterizes Houston as a city.  Time to board.

“Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.” — Dalai Lama XIV