Dateline Auckland

The Esplanade, Devonport

Fortunately the huge storm that battered New Zealand last week had just passed by the time we landed on the 1st, after a long but entirely uneventful flight on beleaguered Qantas. (By far the best food and nicest staff of any flight I’ve ever been on, by the way.) My friend Jeannel’s jet lag advice was a winner – I haven’t had a touch of the ‘lag, though I’ve never quite caught up on the sleep I lost the night before we left and the night we spent on the plane. Fortunately the coffee here is omnipresent and uniformly spectacular. Spent a little time north of Auckland, then a night in an enchanting seaside suburb called Devonport in a grand old Victorian hotel, the Esplanade, in a room with a rather chi chi harbor view and a ringside seat for Storm II: First Blood, which is trying to pick up steam but has mostly resulted in just a few spirited squalls here and there.

Spent most of yesterday running around trying to figure out how to get copies (sorry – photocopies) made of the handouts for my talk, and then last night met up with the incredibly cordial folks of the Astrological Foundation Inc., regaling them with tales of the joys of eclipses, including Barack Obama as an example. Because I’m a typically insular American I had no idea that the candidate for the opposition party in the upcoming NZ elections, John Key, was born just five days after Obama. Both have the Sun/Neptune square, of course, and the tight Saturn/Uranus quincunx, and the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction. Key has the Moon in Cancer opposed Saturn, though, in contrast to Obama’s Moon/Pluto square. Their politics couldn’t be more different, but they’re both ambitious guys who grew up without fathers and have caught the imagination of a nation seeking “change.”

Off today to Coromandel, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen, where I’ll celebrate my 47th birthday tomorrow – hopefully, after a really good night’s sleep. Missing home but happy to be here, if you know what I mean.

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