The guy in the photo with Jimi Hendrix is Wilson Pickett. Just in case you wondered.
We're busy planning our trip to the South Island, looking at possibilities and time and costs. We've decided that we'll head to Australia at the end of January, because our NZ visa expires (and the additional time here doesn't quite justify the price). So this means extensive time going through brochures, looking online, talking to people - do we want to drive, fly, bus? Where to go? Where to stay? And then, where next, how to get there, what will the weather be like (can we avoid cold?), all that. Comparing prices, weighing options, freedom of movement (car) versus easier travel (fly or bus).
Being a rolling luggager is WORK, I tell you!
Our hearts go out to the people of Samoa and Fiji - both island nations (and other outlying islands) were slammed by Cyclone Evan, and we definitely know what a major storm can do to a small island. The reports of entire towns being under water are incredible, and we've been watching the news constantly. (The islands might be larger than St. Thomas, but they are also flatter - so the damage is different. Winds were recorded up to 200 k/h. Class 4 cyclone/hurricane. Rotating clockwise, but that doesn't make the damage any less.)
Because New Zealand, while a European country at heart, is in the midst of Asian and Pacific Island influences. This is the neighborhood of the country. We are in Pasifica, as it is called here.
And because New Zealand seems to be in the path of Evan, who has taken a turn dead south and is aiming for us. Fortunately, with the colder ocean temps (seriously cold) around here, he will quickly lose strength. But some wind and much rain are expected over the weekend. (Do you know any other two people who could travel halfway around the world and manage to find a major storm??)
Also, we're meeting up with friends tomorrow - they arrive in Auckland for about 40 hours before catching a cruise around Australia or something - and since we missed meeting up when we were in Washington DC, we look forward to spending time with friends on this side of the globe.
So plan your trips! We'll meet up with you!!! And I'll report in later, when life isn't quite as busy.