Greetings to all denizens of the Northern Hemisphere from as close to Antarctica as I ever hope to be! My apologies to everyone for not being in contact sooner. Things were quite hectic as we visited with some friends for our last few hours while in Honolulu on Friday evening. With a very early Saturday morning flight we had no time to read or send emails, and boarded our Auckland-bound flight. We arrived safely in Auckland on Sunday evening (Saturday for you folks on the correct side of the International Date Line) and encountered absolutely no issues with immigration or customs upon arrival. We zipped through immigration with three easy questions and some friendly banter. It took a long time to get through customs because of the lines, but no issues there either. M?lia was a bit concerned about her feature lei for graduation as we found out on the flight there are issues with bringing feathers into the country, but as hers had been processed and dyed she was allowed to bring them in.
After a short night at a hotel in Manukau (just outside of Auckland Airport) we caught another early morning flight which delivered us to Dunedin in about two hours. We were unable to get wireless connectivity at either the hotel or the Auckland airport, hence the lack of communication. We arrived by shuttle to the University of Otago around 10:30AM, quickly got our keys, located our flat and contacted the accommodations office. The flat is two stories, two bedrooms, two baths, with surprisingly spacious living room and upstairs bathroom (pictures will follow later). After a few minutes of unpacking essentials and doing a quick inventory of our flat’s contents, we headed into the town to pick up some essential housewares.
We hit the town’s main street on foot and headed toward K-Mart, and no more than 10 minutes into our journey I thought I heard a voice call out “Keola!”. I assumed I misheard and someone was saying “Kia Ora!”, but turned around and was face-to-face with Dr. Dan Bendrups of the music department at University of Otago, who will also supervise my Ph.d.work. Dan and I met at the ICTM conference in Sheffield in 2005, and again at the SEM conference in Honolulu in 2006. I’m glad he had his head up because I was scanning store and restaurant names along the way and was not really paying attention to people’s faces. It was truly a fortuitous chance meeting as I was trying to figure out the best way to quickly communicate with Dan and knew he would be leaving for Rapanui in a few days. Dan was meeting his wife Kerryn for lunch and invited the three of us to join him. They gave us some great tips for places to shop, and we made arrangements to connect later. It turns out that the university’s music department is only about 100 feet from our flat. Dan and Kerryn drove Marie and M?lia to show them where M?lia’s high school is, and it’s only about a 12 minute walk from our flat as well. Dan wasn’t kidding when he told me that you can easily survive in Dunedin without a vehicle. Our legs are a bit tight from all the walking, but still feeling good.
I’ll spare you all the boring details be we did find our essential housewares, and located a nice market about a 1/4 mile from our flat and which takes us through the picturesque Dunedin Park. The weather was quite warm (probably low 80s but felt warmer) in both Auckland and Dunedin and very humid. Kerryn will take Marie and M?lia to do more shopping tomorrow (Wednesday) while I meet with Dan and start discussing what I’ll be up to for the next six months. I have been offered a teaching assistantship but did not have time to fill out and return all of the paperwork before we left. I need to talk to Dan and Dr. Henry Johnson (chair of the music department) about that before committing to it.
Since we decided to come to Dunedin friends everywhere, including those in Ireland, have frequently told us that we will probably be better off here than in Cork. Based on way things came together so quickly and the chance meeting with Dan I can’t help but feel that they were right.