At last the darkness yields and we are flying over the Tasman Sea towards the Southern Alps. I cannot see the mountains but the inflight program tells me that they are there so it must be true. Another breakfast. This time it arrives less than 40 minutes before we land and is snatched away just in time for the descent. No omelettes left by the time the metal trolley reaches me. So it is noodles with unidentifiable vegetables. Quite tasty actually.
We land like thistledown and my forward seat means I can once again be one of the first off (behind the Germans). Through the gleaming emptiness of Duty Free. Through the E-passport counter – once I put my passport in the right way round and manage to ignore the humorous Kiwi customs officer who is standing behind me trying to put me off by saying “Yis” to the question about whether I had been in prison recently. It almost worked.
A smiley fair haired girl accepts my passenger arrival form and I conscientiously declare my toffees. Sadly she is not interested. I forget about the chocolate orange. That is, until I reach security. My rucksack trundles down the conveyor belt and is seized upon and ransacked. “It’s a chocolate orange!” He yells to his mate across the concourse. The scanner thought it was a real one. I am not arrested.
Wearily I join the five other people clustered around the luggage carousel, and soon spot my case with the little red ribbon. All alone I walk towards the double doors shining with light that say “Way Out”. I wonder light-headedly if this is what it is like to enter Heaven. Beyond the door are the beaming faces of friends and relatives waiting for their important ones. And down the end, as far away as possible, is Hubby. With a grin and an almost invisible tear in his eye.