Saturday, May 10, 2008

Family and Norfolk

New Zealand is too far away. Ditto, Norfolk Island. Many years ago, my parents left their respective families and traveled together from Aotearoa to Canada to start life anew. Soon after, I was born. Growing up on Canada's west coast, the only family I socialized with regularly were my immediate family members: my parents and my siblings. All aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents were an expensive eighteen hour plane ride away.

My mom's mom made the long flight here a couple of times, and vice versa. I was taken to New Zealand as a young'un, and again when I was thirteen as my family visited relatives. During the summer of 21 a friend and I journeyed down and spent two and a half weeks going down and back up the length of the country visiting various family members of mine. We then spent a month as Australian tourists.

Biscotti, meanwhile, has grown up surrounded by an immensely large extended family. It seems like every weekend there was a big family gathering to celebrate someone's milestone - birthday, high school graduation, baptism, wedding, etc. In addition, portuguese dinner & dances were frequent events.

Last weekend, an aunt of mine - whom I've never met - was in Vancouver with a friend. The few times I've been in New Zealand she has been living on Norfolk Island. She and a friend were spending the weekend here before heading down to Seattle to embark on an Alaskan cruise. Most of her time was spent with her brother (my dad), who showed her around town. Biscotti and I were able to meet up with them for lunch on Saturday afternoon. It was great talking to her. She had celbrated her seventieth birthday a couple of months back, for which approximately 30 family members had flown to Norfolk Island. There was photographic evidence, which we gobbled up. It's been a decade since I've seen my extended family; I think it's time for a jaunt to the north island. At this time, I don't think I have any family on the southern island.

After parting ways after lunch, I looked up Norfolk Island. It is much, much smaller than I had thought. Located directly north of New Zealand (almost a straight line from Queenstown) and directly east of Australia (almost a straight line from Brisbane), it's one part of one of Australia's external territories. Reading the immigration and citizenship section on wikipedia was mind-boggling. In July 2003 the population was estimated to be 1,853. My favorite sentence of the ones I read on about the island is this: There are 80 km (50 mi) of roads on the island, "little more than country lanes", but local law gives cows the right of way. Read more about Norfolk Island here.

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