Self-imposed quarantine

We returned to New Zealand, from Texas and California, THE SAME DAY Mexico announced the swine flu outbreak.

Doesn’t all the media coverage seem a bit hysterical?

Let’s face it, getting sick is part of travelling around the world. In an airplane. No matter how many times you wash your hands.

The child came down with the flu over two weeks BEFORE the swine flu outbreak was announced, and I didn’t think much of it.

He had the flu. He stayed home until his symptoms went away. But he didn’t go to the doctor.

Now I’m wondering, what if. We had travelled through California and Texas. What if we had taken the child to the doctor, three weeks ago, and we had found out he had the swine flu? Could we have helped stop the pandemic?

Or is the swine flu outbreak more widespread than the WHO wants us to know.

We’ve been back in New Zealand for five days, and even though we have NO SYMPTOMS of flu, we have pretty much isolated ourselves.

I don’t want any fingers pointed at us, for example, at the playcentre, if babies come down with the flu.

I believe in quarantines.

Any excuse to order groceries online will do.


Our gamble paid off.

We arrived in LA at midnight. The child had slept on the red-eye, and miraculously he went right back to sleep when we got to our LAX hotel.

And at our hotel there were ponga trees.

Check out my review over at TripAdvisor.

We felt right at home.


I am an amateur.

My Schmap photo

My photo was chosen for the newly released seventh edition of the Schmap Wellington Guide.

Dozens of other photos by more talented photographers were also published.

HUSBAND: Did they pay you?

ME: Um, no. But I might need to upgrade my Flickr to a pro account.

HUSBAND: (sigh)

The Schmap is a cool little guide. You can check it out here.


Thoughts on returning home

Before we landed in America, I was having romantic fantasies about what my arrival would be like.

It would be like Top Gun. My fighter jet would land on the aircraft carrier, and my commanding officer would say, welcome home, Maverick.

So it was wonderful and strange to find myself back in America. I understood most of the cultural references and people understood me.

But when people asked where I was from, I said, New Zealand. My husband would crack up, laughing, and I would be all, but I am! I am a Kiwi.

When we returned home to New Zealand, the immigration officer asked, how was your trip home.

And I was totally confused.

Because for me, now New Zealand is home.

Sunrise in Wellington


I live to eat.

We have been enjoying Gulf pinks and grouper and of course key lime pie.

And we have called in on some of our local eateries, here and here and here.

You can check out my reviews of these fine establishments over at TripAdvisor.

Fish tacos. Keep cookin', Doc.


Haves and have-nots.

There is a city playground in a gentrifying area a few blocks from my parents’ building. We head out to the playground just before midday, and the heat and the humidity are forces to be reckoned with. The child’s face turns red.

There isn’t a shade cover or even a shady place to sit, and there is no climbing equipment for older kids. A step is broken on the play structure.

There are a couple of other people at the playground with their kids. A black woman and her little boy. A Latina woman pushing a buggy with a baby in it, with another kid in tow.

We play at this playground for fifteen or twenty minutes, decide it’s too hot, and go back to my parents’ building.

Then, yesterday, we went to a playground on the island. This playground has a shade cover over a massive climbing frame. There are shaded tables. When we finally leave to go to lunch, it isn’t because the heat has beaten us. It’s just because we’re hungry.

There are many other parents and grandparents at this playground with their kids. Most of them are from the East Coast. They appear to be from the suburbs. One grandfather is smoking a cigarette, which seems odd nowadays. The kids are named things like “Avery.” They are all white, except one little black girl whose hair is in cornrows, who is probably adopted.

I am saddened by the difference between these two playgrounds. Life is not fair.

Ample shade cover


Always learning

It’s a rude awakening to return to America, and to find everyone’s hand held out for a gratuity.

In Santa Monica we realized that we are a DIY family. We prefer to do things ourselves. We don't like being waited on.

I guess we are a motel family. We need a kitchenette, not room service.

I don’t like being addressed as “Ms. Ryan.” To me, it seems deferential. The only way I feel okay with it is if I’m also addressing you as Missus, Miss, or Mister.

At our hotel, I was offended by the guests’ sense of entitlement. They were demanding, and they received more attention because of it. I cringed as guests talked down to the hotel staff (ie, “My wife is in the exercise room and she needs a cold water. Get it for her NOW!”). I was embarrassed.

Here’s my review of our hotel over at TripAdvisor.


The land of nothing is for free.

Recently I read this story in the New York Times about how to use your mobile phone overseas for cheap.

Apparently, if you have an American cellphone, you can go to another country and buy a local SIM card to use with your phone. Then you can make inexpensive local calls in that country.

It seems, unfortunately, that you can’t bring a mobile phone to America from, say, New Zealand (or the UK), buy a local SIM card, put it in your cellphone, and get service.

It's all locked up. Even if your existing unlocked mobile phone operates on the same frequency, you need to buy a cellphone from the local (US) carrier.



I'm in Florida.

I'm pretending I’m Cameron Diaz’s character in In Her Shoes.

Except the soundtrack from my imaginary movie is M.I.A.’s Paper Planes.

So what if the riff was stolen from the Clash.


Dallas seems very exotic.

I didn’t realize that the Dallas metropolitan area is so big (the population is over 6 million). Flying into the city at night is impressive.

I like the flat and the dry. And of course we are used to the wind.

The "Dallas" house


Initial impressions

LA seems like a foreign country.

We are much more tired than we thought we would be.

I have a new respect for all of you who have travelled around the world with a four-year-old.

Don't get me wrong. The child has been coping very well.

It's the ways of air travel that have gotten me down.

Especially when the airline forgets the special meal for your child who is allergic to EVERYTHING. And you're not allowed to bring EFF ALL on the plane.

The child doesn't want to eat fruit and crackers when everyone else is having a hot meal.

And after being on the airplane for thirteen or whatever hours, the child doesn't want to stand in line for immigration and customs.

Of course, LA is so expensive. And even in the "walkable areas" in Santa Monica, you totally need a car.

At least the people we have met have been kind and helpful. Thank you, nice people.

And now, hopefully sleep. Because tomorrow's another day at the airport.

America, why did you have to be so big?