Today Retha reminded me that I haven't updated my blog in a long time. Long time definition here is a month. Goodness, has it been that long?
Now where will I start? The 24th December flew by in a flurry. The last people came to fetch their purchases/freebies. I gave away a lot of things to people arriving in January from South Africa, at least I could make somebody else's landing a little softer. It's a good feeling, paying forward what was done for me, 7 years ago. BellaDonna was fetched by Southern Comfort, and I cried my eyes out. I still shudder at the thought of what I had to put her through.
We then loaded the Ravvie for the last time, (I MISS MY RAV!!) drove to the motel for our last NZ night, Flip delivered the Rav to its new owner and took a taxi back, and we all crashed. The boys slept for 2 hours, but after 30 minutes I was wide awake again. Luckily the motel had internet in the lobby, sharks, asking $5 for 30 minutes, so I emailed my family with a last update.
We went to dinner, and the best of the walking distance eateries was Burger King. So funny, our first "dining out" was also Burger King. It tasted better 7 years ago, I think.
Back at the motel we exchanged gifts, watched a movie and went to bed. Very early David woke us, as he wanted to surprise his friends with breakfast, so 6:15am we sent him off, me again in tears. Jeesh I was an emotional wreck!
We only had coffee and toast for breakfast, and headed out to the airport. The first snag was that the airline did not book our seats together. The check-in girlie changed seats for us, and we headed upstairs. LUCKILY we decided to fill in departure cards immediately, and Flip discovered that he is booked in as Ms Wang Chi Wong.
While he headed downstairs to fix the name, PJ decided the toast did not quite fill the spot.
No further problems, we had a good flight to Sydney, but tiredness was setting in fast. We all had a huge sleep debt, and the previous night's 4 hours wasn't helping. The very kind Ms Wong agreed to exhange seats and at least we sat together except for take-off and landing. Inflight movies was boring, we had an old aeroplane, so no personalised screens, but sleep would not come.
Some people even got grumpy when I took too many pics. :)
By the time we landed in Sydney we were all hot, bothered and exhausted. Luckily the airport attendant offered us immediate flights to Brisbane, instead of the 5 hour wait we were supposed to do. So we were quickly carted off to the domestic airport via bus (without air-conditioning - boy is that a necessity in this country!) along with a huge group of South African cricket fans on their way to Melbourne. Come to think of it, 3/4 of the people in the bus were Afrikaans lol.
The domestic koffie-mof... e .. airline staff were NOT as friendly as international staff, for sure. Nearly got my head bitten off when I requested a tomato juice instead of the mixed-fruit-in-a-box they had on tap. Maybe they did not get extra pay for working on Xmas like international flight staff.
We arrived in a sweltering Brissie, where we had to insert coins to get a trolley, and guess what, we did not HAVE Aussie coins and not a lot of patience left, and exhaustion was a definite factor. The trains did not run, so we had to find a taxi, but later that night we discovered a train trip would not have been much cheaper anyway. The motel was fine, but their spa gave out the day before, the spa that was the main factor in choosing that particular motel when we booked! We went for a walk after a short rest to buy dinner, but not a lot of places were open that time of Xmas night. So we bought a pizza and some Coke (vanilla nogal, what a find - not available in NZ anymore).
Next morning me and PJ packed (again!) while Flip went to the airport via train to get our hire car, and we drove up north to Leon & Wendy's for the weekend. What a weekend! While Wendy and me checked out houses on the island, the men went looking for cars. They found a very good buy, which did not pan out because they saw us (from NZ) as a bigger risk as people straight from SA on a visa. Less proof of commitment to stay, see. So they wanted 50% deposit, and we said stuffit.
The Sunday we drove from Ipswitch (south west of Brisbane) where PJ and I was to house-sit for 2 weeks, to the Island again, to look at some more houses. Most estate agents were closed, but we got a few addresses. I did not much look forward to driving so far on my own to try and secure a house, but it had to be done. Flip was due back offshore the Monday morning. But while looking at houses, we found an old local newspaper in a letterbox. I scanned through, and low and behold there was a private advertisement. I phoned the number and left a message, and while we went to the beach for a look-see and an ice-cream, Lex phoned me back, and said meet you at the house. He had his fill with estate agents, and rented privately. The house was on the small side, only 3 bedrooms and no air conditioning, but the price was right with a swimming pool. So we gave them our references and that night they phoned to say we got it. So maklik! And believe me, going through agents is much, much more involved, you have to apply with a deposit, have a 100 point system to fulfill (getting points for passports, having an Aussie employer, Queensland drivers licence etc etc.) Then only are you screened and accepted or declined. We had it easy.
Monday hubby was off again and I had to sort out car rentals. So I found a very cheap little rental sans insurance, I am just driving VERY carefully. As long as somebody else hits me, another car, I am okay. My NZ travel insurance will cover me up to 31st January.
I will not comment on the house sitting job, as it scarred me for life and I decided i HATE dogs. Nuff said. BellaDonna landed on the 7th, and I collected a very stressed out, very thin siamese at the airport. They are so much more professional here than NZ with collecting animals/belongings. It broke my heart to leave her in a cattery on this side, but it would have stressed her even more in that house with 2 dogs and 2 strange cats.
On the 10th we moved into our little house, me and PJ, with borrowed inflatable mattresses, table, chairs (thanks Nilo) and cups, plates, bar fridge, pots and lined (thanks Wendy and Leon!). BellaDonna screamed for 2 days before calming down a bit, and it took her that long to eat anything again. I was so worried. After two nights however I went through the expense of buying a matress, as the inflatable was killing me. David had to get a new bed anyway, we sold his in Auckland.
It was about at this point I discovered that my container was in fact sent to Melbourne, after I phoned them on the 29th December pointing out this error after receiving an email. For those who do not know, the ship sailed from Auckland to Sydney, and Brisbane is NORTH of Sydney. Melbourne is way... way to the south. In the 3 times I phoned, I spoke to 3 different people, explaining from scratch as the previous one went on holiday and no notes were made on my file. Every time I was told about it being an "administrative error" and I should not worry. Then on the 13th January I decided to use my brains and Uncle Google to track the vessel my container was on. After a strongly worded email, including the site link I used to track the vessel, in which I insisted on some honesty instead of the lies I've been fed, Grace Removals admitted that it went to Melbourne. Good Grief! I told them about this on the 29th, more than a week before the vessel left Auckland!
Things got better after fetching David on the 15th, I slept better, at least. Yesterday I decided to phone Grace Australia instead of the Auckland branch, and the lovely lady there told me that my container was cleared by customs, no problems (I was very worried about the biltongbox!!) and that it will be loaded on a truck by Wednesday, and that I should have it early February. About bloody time. I am gatvol sitting on a beanbag, sleeping on the floor. I WANT MY STUFF!! How did I do this 7 years ago, selling everything and starting new? I am too old for this. I wish we came to Australia all those years ago, but then, I do believe in fate. One day I will understand why we had to do the NZ detour.
One thing I know, is that we finally came home. All I need now is my husband by my side, I wish he did not have to go away for such long times. Think I better get the boys grown-up, then BellaDonna and I can follow his vessel in a little sailboat. Would that not be nice?
David is starting school on Tuesday, right after our very first Australia day. I should get more internet time then as well, with Mr D in school for 4 days a week. Go figure, here they have every Thursday off for employment preparation. Wish I had school in Aus!