Friday February 18th
Ashburton, New Zealand
I arrived yesterday, Thursday, in New Zealand, along with Maria Bueno Cup (W50) team member Susan Wright. After a 13 hour flight from San Francisco, we landed in Auckland, and immediately flew to Christchurch. The flight from Auckland was great because it was a clear day; I had a window seat and could see all the way across the country, including the Braided River and Mt. Cook. That was the easy part of the trip…we landed, cleared Customs and were off on the adventure of renting a car and driving on the left side of the road! We got lost finding the rental car van (ok, the airport parking garage is under construction, but still…not a good omen). I rented the car and we drove into Christchurch with Susan, who was nervously watching oncoming traffic and curbs. We drove around, lunched, had a hit at the tennis center in Christchurch, then picked up Kathy Vick, captain of the women’s 50 team. Fortunately for us, Tom Smith, of the men’s 55 team, got a ride from a teammate, because he would not have fit in the car, never mind his luggage. As is, Kathy barely fit and she packed lightly!
We managed to get out of Christchurch and to Ashburton with only one close call (I recommend speeding into the roundabouts in order to avoid cars flying through them) and no accidents. Susan and Kathy may have more gray hairs though. The rest of the ride was uneventful, as it’s a straight road with few turns between Christchurch and Ashburton. We saw a lot of sheep, fields and cattle…no people of course, since people are far outnumbered by animals here.
We checked into our motel, the Bella Vista and the proprietor, Heather, greeted us and commented that my photo was in the local paper promoting the tournament. However, we had a laugh when the photo above my name was not me, but Kerry Ballard who is from Australia, in the 60s and not even here! Everyone here has been so nice and very enthusiastic about the tournament.
Ashburton is a small town, which just reached 20,000 recently. There’s a main street and not much else, it reminds me of the small towns in the Central Valley of California 40 years ago.
Today Susan, Kathy and I practiced in the morning and spent a lot of ti me at the local grocery store…they are always interesting (chicken flavored potato chips; Thai flavored tuna; and eggs are NOT refrigerated here!).
Tina Karwasky arrived today, and we hit; we also saw the men’s 55 team. Joanne Russell also arrived and so did Diane Fishburne and friend Jack Barker. The Bella Vista has only 18 rooms and we are in four of them, it’s cozy and clean.
Tomorrow we practice again…all for now.
Below…Kathy and Susan