20 November, 2001
Across the country, the Pacific Ocean, the equator and the International Date Line, I find myself in Christchurch, New Zealand on a cool, drizzly Tuesday (Monday for you Americans). The flights were uneventful, although Customs was interesting--very strict.
New Zealand gives me the feeling that I have landed on a piece of Europe that has drifted into the South Pacific. The accents, the funny little cars driving on the left side of the road (crossing intersections requires a double-take), potato pie and beans for breakfast, 220 volt outlets, and the continual and mutual need to ask, "I'm sorry, could you repeat that?" remind me that I'm not in Kansas anymore. Or even New York. At the airport, signs are in three different character alphabets--Japanese, Chinese, something else, and in an island language that offers me no clue to its meaning, as one might get from Spanish or French even if you didn't speak that language. This is a beautiful place, and the people are very approachable, helpful, and friendly.
Tomorrow I will probably have the opportunity to visit a New Zealand high school. I had received e-mails from two before I left, and was contacted by phone soon after we checked in at the hotel. I will discuss our research and repair mission, the geology and geochemistry of the volcano, and show them some of the preserved snow crystals that I brought with me (I was told today that it hasn't snowed in Christchurch for eight years), but I suspect that I may have as many questions for them as I hope they have for me.
Tomorrow afternoon at 1:00 we go to the Clothing Distribution Center (CDC) to be outfitted, and the goal is to fly to the continent the next day. We had hoped to get clothing today and fly tomorrow, but mechanical troubles have backed things up, so everyone is getting to the ice a little later than expected. The timing is never a sure thing anyway, thanks to Antarctic weather....
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