the best 10 days of my life: New Zealand edition… days 1 and 2

wow. 16000+ views? I’m super flattered, interwebs. I guess I better post something worth reading since you keep coming back for more.

are you ready for this?
really, though?

I mean.. this literally changed pretty much everything about my life so I figure it’s pretty heavy.

yes?

okay, if you’re sure…

well, you’ve seen for months now that I’ve been mentioning my upcoming trip to New Zealand (here on out referred to as NZ) in October. and now it’s the end of October. that means I’ve been home for a little over a week now. (fail trombone.) 😦

why am I home, you ask?

I wish I knew the answer to that question.. because somehow trivial everyday life seems empty and meaningless post-NZ.

I know… “Aubrey, stop being so dramatic.”

but this is legit. you would feel empty and meaningless if your other half was on the other side of the world too.

so, since everyone asks, I’ll begin with the airport. let’s not even talk about the 24-32 hours of travel. suckfest 5000. fast forward to the good stuff. the NZ airport has a visitor area after you’ve already gone through baggage claim and customs and everything. they were SO slow getting everyone through, so apparently poor Mote was standing there waiting for me for more than 30 minutes. I walk out the doors and am instantly uncomfortable because they have it set up like a stage. the people waiting to pick up their respective passengers are all sitting on benches/chairs facing these electronic double doors that you walk out of by yourself because you just got through customs all by your lonesome.. you’ve been on 3 planes across the world for..years.. and lo and behold, errbody is staring at you.

hiiiiiiii…

so I’m attempting to scan the crowd for Mote’s face, but quickly moving to the side of the crowd so everyone will stop staring at ME.

I don’t see him.

I move around to the back, scanning every face… no Mote.

I start to panic.

I am in NEW ZEALAND.. this is not a quick little jaunt for kicks.. this is a foreign country. what if he isn’t here?!

attempting to keep myself calm, I keep looking around and through the crowd.. standing awkwardly with my bags and hoping he will magically appear..

finally, I turn around.. and there he is. right behind me. we make eye contact and relief floods over me. I run at him and throw my arms around his neck and knock his hat off. he hugs me tight and I can already tell that I have found my new favorite spot to be in the world.. and he tells me that he took a potty break right when I came out, apparently, and didn’t know I was there.
(sidenote: in NZ they call it the “toilet,” not the bathroom. they’ll look at you weird if you call it the bathroom. luckily I already knew this. and also.. Mote is not from New Zealand. he is from Tonga. but he learned English in America, so he calls it the bathroom.)
anyway, we called the rental car company and walked to where we were supposed to meet them.. and that’s when he kissed me for the first time. it was over.

that night, we went back to his brother’s house.. I briefly met the fam (I think it was amusing that everybody seemed surprised about how “gorgeous” I was. like.. did you think I was gonna be ug? but still flattering.) and I showered real quick and we set back out for some dinner with his brother and his wife, Sieli. I, regrettably, was still not functioning on all cylinders and forgot my camera like a champ. no photos were taken. but we went to the Sky Tower in downtown Auckland for dinner and hung out there at the casino for a bit.. I realized, again, that I do not speak Tongan. so that was a feeling I became used to over the course of the week.. given that most of the people in his life DO speak it. he often would forget that I didn’t know what was going on and expect me to be ready for whatever we were doing.. and I would look lost.. and he would say, “oh!” and then laugh and explain. luckily, however, his bro and sis-in-law also speak English, so I could still communicate.

okay enough with verbose intros.

I know a lot of you already Facebook stalked, but the rest of you are probably here for this.. here come the pics! (I took 500+. I won’t be posting them all. sorry ’bout it.)

the next day we got up in the morning for the LDS General Conference. (in the states, it had been broadcast the week earlier, but since NZ is a day ahead, they wait a week to watch it because their Monday is our Sunday.) our first pic together:

after conference we chilled for a bit and then packed up some overnight bags and got on the road to Hamilton, a little over an hour away. (he lives in Auckland.) the whole drive was gorgeous because.. well.. NZ is GORGEOUS!!!!!!!!!!

seriously guys, interlude for a second for me to exclaim about the beauty: everywhere you look is pretty!! it was breathtaking. the views of the city.. the bay.. the lights.. the rolling hills of green.. (SO GREEN!!!) the foliage.. the everything! I was like, “really?!?!” okay. end of interlude.

so we meet up with my favorite comp from the mission and her husby there.. you may remember the famous Nonoa.. who I should now call Audrey because she is no longer a Nonoa, she is a Pere.. but whatevs. love her.

this photo was actually from the next day, but it fits the flow, so it’s going here.

we meet the sister missionaries, they hear about our mission connection.. the looks on their faces are priceless when Mote and I kiss before he went to the car to grab something and we were heading inside the visitor’s center. hahaha. like, looks of surprise and then, “met on the mission, eh????”
(don’t worry, world. we barely knew each other as missionaries. we only met once or twice at zone conferences. we never served around each other. we keep it approp. in this piece!!)

anyway, we tour the visitor’s center and see the temple and then head back to the Pere’s for some grub and the All Blacks/Argentina game.

oh wait, first we stopped to meet her darling mom and pretty much a thousand aunts and uncles and friends who were all preparing for a funeral.. none of whom I can even slightly remember. but they were all super nice. THEN the house for food and the game.

Mote taught me some rugby, since I was heretofore mostly clueless about that game. I knew I liked the men involved.. (like him.) but I have wayyyy more knowledge about american football than rugby. anyway, I learned stuff. this entire trip was rugby saturated because it was the rugby world cup while I was there. it was amazing to see all the entire country get so into it. flags and decorations and paint and decked out cars and signs EVERYWHERE!

I just noticed that I am the only one on a brown body. will someone giggle at the irony with me?
 the last two photos are also from the next day in Hamilton but I’m a rebel and I do what I want.

so… I abruptly just decided I’m gonna post about my trip in increments, because otherwise it will take me like 6 hours to write one post. that’s not happening. I have a midterm in the morning. so that concludes the first two days.

(I promise the next one will be real soon. don’t throw fruit.)