Heaven on earth

New Zealand Full Moon

After a whirlwind of a day trying to get ready to leave, we took off from Islamabad Friday night and flew to Bangkok. After a 12-hour layover (thank goodness for day rooms and massages), we took off for an 11-hour flight to Auckland, New Zealand…a three-hour layover then on to Blenheim, in the heart of Marlborough on the South Island.

It was rainy when we arrived. We made our way to Brookby Cottage, a little cottage on a small working vineyard. Host Richard and black Lab Brookby welcomed us and got us settled in our digs. Amazingly, the view of the vineyards below and mountains in the distance (eerily reminiscent of the Golan Heights) looks just like advertised. And quiet. Complete privacy. Wonderful. Thanks to our friends Carolyn and Konstantin for sharing this lovely find with us!

It was Sunday by the time we arrived at the cottage. After a quick look around, we made a run into town for groceries. We were exhausted – so much so that I slept until Monday afternoon at 2PM – and probably would have slept more if John hadn’t made me get up! We read on the back porch most of the afternoon, then watched a gorgeous full moon come up over the hill.

Tuesday (today) we drove into town to get a local phone, then made a 30-minute drive to Picton, a pretty little town on the edge of the Sound. We had lunch, then took a windy mountainous road home. An hour and a half to get back, with lots of switchbacks and crazy incredible views of the Sound. Back in Blenheim, we stopped at a vineyard for a tasting, then ran by the grocery store on our way home. The rest of the afternoon we’ve been reading and working a jigsaw puzzle with a glass of wine.

The week leading up to the trip was pretty hectic. I worked all day last Sunday, writing employee reviews, and continued to work on them throughout the week. Made it to the gym each morning – even tried a spinning class last Sunday morning, which I really liked.

I went to the MFA one afternoon with my new manager for introductions. Thursday, the NIV team met with the U.S. Education Foundation of Pakistan – a great group that’s paid for by the Department of State and who works primarily to tout U.S. universities to young Pakistani students.

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