We have arrived. I didn’t run the official timer for our travel duration, but someone quoted it as being well over thirty hours from Princeton to Hamilton yesterday. All in all, it seems that the team is adapting to the travel and time change very well, and most people had no trouble getting a solid night of sleep last night. The most daunting leg of the trip, the 13.5 hour flight to Auckland, went by fairly painlessly, with most of us sleeping for a big chunk of it, and then varying the rest of the time with chatting and stretching in the aisles, and/or entertaining ourselves with our in-seat entertainment systems (of course, I got the only TV on the plane that didn’t work). Getting through the airport was also pretty painless, and we crammed ourselves onto buses for the last leg to make it down to Hamilton, where we will be staying for the duration of the competition.
A lot of emphasis was placed on the New Zealand biosecurity at the airport before we arrived. We were told multiple times that we were NOT allowed to bring fresh fruits or vegetables of any kind in to the country, and so we should plan accordingly. I made special note of this since I tend to pack a picnic when I travel. Despite having eating most of my food supply by the time I arrived in New Zealand, the canine airport agents in the airport successfully sniffed out a half a bag of mini carrots that I had leftover in my carry-on while I was in the restroom… fortunately it was before I had made it to the biosecurity checkpoint and I was not responsible for the $400 fee imposed on those who fail to declare/dispose of fresh produce.
After we got to the hotel and had lunch, it was a quick turnaround to get to the course to rig and row. Rigging went smoothly, but I can’t say so much for the rowing, as we spent our rushed 4k paddle in some seriously choppy water before running back to catch the bus back to the hotel. Then it was dinner and lights out for a tired Team USA. I shot some video of the Team USA clowns rigging at the course.
Our interactions with all of our Kiwi hosts have been warm and welcoming; I think everyone is very pleased with the hotel, the setup at the course and the transportation arrangements (except those who get carsick with the bus drivers doing donuts in the parking lots). The food has been good both at the hotel and at the race course… the breakfast at the hotel this morning rivals even the best breakfasts in the known Universe (aka German breakfast) and I think I’m going to have a hard time keeping it to my usual cereal, toast and juice in the morning.
Internet service is not great here… it is available at the hotel but is both very slow and very expensive by American standards. So blogging, Tweets and emails are going to be sporadic at best. But I will do my best to keep sending word on how things are going!
Long Live the Dream,