One of Mr Cassmob’s employment conditions in Papua New Guinea in the 1970s was first-class (!) return airfares for his family every two years (initially) then every year, from place of employment in PNG to Melbourne, Australia. So if you’ve sometimes wondered which gold mine we’d discovered, you now know why we’ve travelled so much though not in first class I assure you.
If you’re going to have to rent accommodation, hire a car and travel in Australia, you may as well translate that to airfares etc in another overseas destination.
This trip Across the Ditch to New Zealand was to be the kids’ first non-Australian international jaunt, a tiny compensation for missing out on Rome, Athens etc in the previous year. During the trip we were also able to meet up with some long-standing friends who’d reversed the trend across the Tasman. Along for the trip was Ms Two’s best friend, Riff Raff, which I’d made for her from batik fabric. In Auckland the girls met the real article for the first time – their eyes were wide, as they travelled from small girl height up the giraffe’s long legs and neck to his head and that long blue tongue. (After a conversation with my mother, it turns out it wasn’t the first time, as DD1 had been mesmerized when she had seen one the previous year while we were overseas).
Further south in Rotorua they would come face to face with another startling discovery, as like many tourists, we booked for a Maori evening show. Well it certainly was a cultural experience! Remember these were two little girls who were all too accustomed to seeing many hundreds of warriors armed with spears, arrows and axes, dancing in the Goroka Show. So when the Maoris burst onto the stage with a fully-fledged haka[i], tattooed faces, eyes bulging, arms flailing amidst much yelling, two small voices were added at full-screech to the noise. They just freaked out!! No longer were those warriors passive, they’d finally come to get them. Needless to say that was the end of the show for us!
The North Island also cost me part of my heirlooms as I lost the largest diamond from my grandmother’s engagement ring, probably in a gutter somewhere, as we searched for somewhere to stay (no, not in the gutter! rather just driving to find the right place).
We loved the South Island because it was so very different from what we were used to, with its cold climate and snow. Everyone enjoyed the flight up to Fox Glacier and being able to see all that snow up-close. One night while watching the unaccustomed treat of television, we were shocked to see the Fall and evacuation of Saigon and all the surrounding panic. It was a confronting sight which bookmarked our own interest in the Vietnam war from our university days.
The kids travelled well without any hassles other than Miss Two’s need for her pliggles (aka dummies or pacifiers). Not only did she need one in her mouth, she had to have a spare in each hand. Have you ever had a midnight search for a missing dummy in an unfamiliar motel room (it was usually found behind the bed!) Tedious I can tell you! Perhaps that was the impetus for evil mother to wean her from it a month or so later.
One of the other joys the girls caught in New Zealand was chicken pox which they carried home carefully on the plane with them, revealing it only on our return home. Of course being sharing sorts of children they had to have it in sequence, rather than together, while their father was away for a couple of weeks’ work travel. Such are the joys of motherhood.
[i] Rugby Union fans are familiar with the All Blacks version which is every bit as formidable. You can see one version here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdMCAV6Yd0Y. Traditionally a pre-battle challenge, it is also pertinent to my family history, as one of the Sandon Kent family died in the Maori wars.
For an amusing version check out the “flash” version in which the Qld copper joins in. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmSNN7vZt_o