Vee’s amazing hospitality did not end when we left her at the beginning of our time in New Zealand. We actually ending up being able to bookend our New Zealand time with her. While we were together in Auckland the first time, she had asked us what our lodging plans were for when we returned to Auckland to leave the country. We told her that we were planning on staying in a hotel near the airport – that seemed the most sensible option, since we had a really early flight the next morning. She encouraged us to cancel our hotel reservation and stay with her again. We were happy to oblige.
So, when we arrived back in Auckland, she once again picked us up from the rental car place and took us to her house. We had the house to ourselves for a few hours while she went to work, but after she came back we went out together and got some dinner. I’m not really sure what made her do this, but instead of suggesting a “normal” restaurant she recommended an Asian street food market in the middle of a covered parking deck. Whatever her rationale was behind that suggestion, I’m really glad for it.
The market was packed with typical Asian food from all over southeast Asia – and also, of course lots of southeast Asians, as well. I’m not quite sure what it was, but something about the combination of an Asian street market in the middle of a very western parking deck made me feel both at home and as if I were back in Korea at the same time. It was definitely an odd combination, but lots of fun.
We had a very early flight the next day, so we didn’t stay out too late. Michael and I were once again bowled over by Vee’s hospitality – her last gesture was to take us to the airport at 4:30 in the morning. That almost wasn’t early enough – the check-in line was absolutely crawling, and we almost certainly would have missed our flight if one of the agents hadn’t let us skip ahead of the rest of the line to check in. But we made it, none the worse for wear except for a little less sleep than we would have liked, and just like that, we were on our way back to the States.
The Great Barrier Reef of Australia is one of the most breathtaking things I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Similarly, the people and countryside of New Zealand are incredible. I really did have a wonderful time. But, I couldn’t help but think on more than one occasion as we drove ourselves around in our little rental car, that this was too….too easy. Boring, even. As Michael put it, I guess there just wasn’t enough adventure for me – no having to figure out bus schedules or navigating in a foreign language or guessing on which street food is the safest because I don’t know what any of it is. Don’t get me wrong, it was a wonderful vacation. But I’m glad I didn’t stay longer than I did. One thing’s for sure, though….if I want to create a hospitable home for strangers and friends alike to come into and feel welcome (which I do), Vee has definitely given me a great role model to emulate! 🙂 I was so grateful for the impression she gave me of her country, an impression that will stay with me far longer than the bounds of my vacation dates. That’s the kind of impression I want to leave with everyone who comes into my home. I’ve got a long way to go!