Here we are, in the lounge of the shala, just meeting Georgi (have to check that spelling), who lives in Nelson with her family: husband Peter, kids, Hannah, Eva, and Marcus - CUTE!!!
Around the table are other students, including Bela (from China, and before that, the Phillipines, and before that, the States); Sarah (originally from Scotland, grew up in Wales though, and considers both Spain and NZ her homes....!); Sabine (from Germany - she studied Iyengar for 9 years and started Ashtanga 1 1/2 years ago); and the other Sarah, from Wellington (she's John and Lucy's helper, who lives in the yurt and will be participating in the Teacher Training as well).
I've also met Vayu (spelling again?), from South Korea, the only male in the course.
Others are yet to come.
It has been an amazing trip already. The flight from Philly was an hour late leaving ... one of those times when they had to wait for food to be brought to the plane (which they then ran out of on the flight), and then the rain delayed us (just as we taxied to the tarmac, the captain came on the PA to say that it would be at least a half hour before we took off)... anyway, the biggest problem it caused was only having 10 minutes before I had to board the plane to Auckland, rather than an hour and 10 minutes. Fortunately, the vegetarian dinner I requested on the NZ#1 flight wasn't terrible.
The L.A. airport, however, I can do without... had to leave the terminal I was in to go in to the Air New Zealand terminal, meaning I had to go back through security. Not well organized, imho.
I was SO lucky on the Philly-to-LA flight to have an empty seat next to me, and a man on the other side of that seat who didn't mind that I put my feet on it (obviously sitting sideways)... but no such luck on the LA-to-Auckland flight... seemed full, and seemed like less space than last year.
The first half of the NZ#1 flight was harder than the last half... maybe because I was able to sleep later in the flight, after watching The Visitor - GREAT movie. When I woke up for breakfast (not such a good in-flight meal... why do airlines even TRY to serve eggs??? IT NEVER WORKS), I watched Burn After Reading (or is it Burn Before Reading?), which is not good. Not even sure why I watched it all the way through.
Btw, everyone, I am not going to edit this... won't have time... so bear with me.
Had my first "flat white" (latte) with soy milk in the domestic terminal... yummmmmmmmm!
Nice, easy flight to Nelson, during which I read a lot of one of Tim's favorite books (hope I'm right about that), "By the Lake." It's a difficult read, because of all of the Irish sayings and ways of saying things that I don't understand. I need Tim here to help me decipher it.
Tim, can you take the next flight? I miss you.
Went back to the Morrison Cafe (third time!) for lunch. Though the service is slow, the food is amazing... they use fresh, organic, healthy food as much as possible, and have a huge menu, including the regular diner options (made with good stuff - I had huevos rancheros) and then things like quinoa salad or brown rice with all kinds of cool veggies. Took Tim there last year, too, when he arrived.
Passed by a digeridoo player on the street, obviously using circular breathing and doing an amazing job of it... so I dropped a few coins in his hat, and he said "thaaaaaaaannnk.... yoooouuuuuuuu" through the digeridoo! I didn't even try to conceal my giggle.
Did some grocery shopping since we'll be cooking our breakfasts and dinners. Turns out Lucy is going to cook us lunch Monday through Friday.
OK - more important stuff... the farm/retreat center is AMAZING! SO different from last year. Foliage has grown all over the place, and John is building a garden in front of their house. There's a beautifully designed deck under the canopy that has 4 outdoor beanbag chairs on it, and the garden and pond next to the deck is all finished - just looking at it makes you feel tranquil.
Also, I'll be staying in a new, little sweet cabin - it's a stand-alone unit beyond the other cabins.
It doesn't have a bathroom though... so... if I have to GO in the middle of the night, my options are: squat outside, or make my way to the shala to use the john there.
I'll take a picture and try to add it in here, but after a few pictures upon my arrival, the camera battery died. It's recharging.
The weather is incredible - warmer than I remember it last year. Today was HOT, and the locusts are REALLY LOUD. I'm not complaining, mind you. : )
Well, that's enough for now... evidently, we're having dinner together to go over things.
One of the students will arrive tomorrow.
To anyone and everyone reading this, you really must come to New Zealand. Don't just put it on your bucket list; put it on your current "to do" list.