Alone in Opossum World

Think about how much time you spend alone on an average day.  For me (at least when I’m in Chicago), it’s about one or two hours.  The rest of my day I’m interacting with people: my students, friends, coworkers, and of course, Geoff and Eliza.  At home, a few hours by myself in which I’m not working is rare.  It confuses me and I’ll spend part of that time wondering what to do with myself.  These two weeks alone in New Zealand have been exciting and sometimes overwhelming.    The first week was spent adjusting to a new country, finding my way around, and making new friends through Fulbright.  But days all to myself are long and lonely.  I miss Geoff and Eliza terribly, and the best way I know to not feel so sad about it is to keep on the move.  This is how I ended up taking a spontaneous trip to Opossum World.

I had meetings planned on Tuesday and Friday, but worried about what to do with myself on the days in between.  Thanks to Atlas Obscura, I learned about Opossum World, a museum and fur store dedicated to a much-hated pest and featuring several taxidermy dioramas.  Now, I love the Moccasin Bar in Hayward, Wisconsin, and this looked very similar.  I quickly bought a bus ticket and booked a hotel room.  The next morning I was on my way.

The bus ride to Napier was long (5+ hours), but scenic.  I made a note to pay the extra $20 for the larger seats near the front next time. The bus dropped me off and I made my way to Opossum World only to find an empty building.  On the door was an unnecessarily long letter explaining that the original owner retired, but that Opossum World had just moved locations.  The new location was mostly a fur store; the museum much smaller than I’d expected.  Still, the choir of opossums singing “On the Road Again” was pretty sweet.  Was this an Opossum World?  It was small, more like an Opossum village.  Does this make me a spoiled American?  Maybe.

I then had to walk about 3 km to my hotel, the Albatross.  It was raining and the route to the hotel was along a busy state highway.  I was frazzled when I got to the Albatross only to realize that, in my hurry to book the trip, I had booked and paid for the wrong night.  That’s when I lost it.  I’m not a very emotional person, but I cried right there in the motel lobby.  Through the tears, I negotiated another room (a deluxe room for the same price).  Sobbing, I called Geoff.  No, I’m not hurt.  Yes, everything with the baby is fine.  His concern turned to amusement once I explained that I was upset because I had to pay twice for a hotel room and that I was somewhat disappointed with Opossum World.  He calmed me down, and reminded me of the time we accidentally booked a cruise for the wrong year.  Now that I’m calm, I think being without Geoff and Eliza for this long finally got to me.  Opossum World is just fine and Napier is a lovely city.    I’m just not used to this much alone time.


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