Left DC Thursday morning, and during my nice layover in LA I took a cab to Venice Beach (complete with ALL my luggage) and sat on the sand and watched the sun set. I went back to the airport and met a nice Fijian family, and then on the next leg on the plane sat next to an amazing woman who was going back to Fiji to see her estranged mother who she hasn’t seen in 14 years. I got the full story (it was a long flight). She lives in Arkansas now.
I spent the entire next layover (only six hours this time) talking to a guy who’s been an officer in the New Zealand army for the past three years. He had pretty crazy life stories and lots of advice about NZ to share.
Once in Auckland I took a bus (where I met a couple from Bethesda) from the airport to a backpacker hostel. I’m staying in an 8-bunk room. Now I’m off to explore the city. I have all day tomorrow here, too, and then Monday I leave for Wellington.