Day 1: Travel
- No 13th?
As usual I celebrate
my birthday with the Rough Science crew, but this time it is in an aircraft
on my way to New Zealand. After two previous series there are certain
themes that are all too familiar. One is the flight, and although much
longer than the flights to Capraia or Carriacou this is a typical Rough
Science journey with blind panic at check-in and transfers as we try to
account for all the crew, luggage and filming gear. This is particularly
fraught in Los Angeles.
By the time we arrived
in Auckland in the North Island of New Zealand we can't work out
whether I had just had a birthday at all because we had crossed the International
Date Line just before landing. Auckland is very hectic because we have
a very tight transfer. We run around like headless chickens as instructions
are shouted loudly by the confident, rather than the knowledgeable. If
it had been this tight in the US we would never have made the ongoing
flight, but New Zealanders are so incredibly helpful that there was never
really going to be a problem.
As usual I worry about
the challenges. What possible use is a virologist in the basic conditions
we are likely to find near a glacier in a remote area of New Zealand's
South Island? I'm used to working in an extremely advanced lab with
precision equipment. My only chance is to depend on common sense and the
fact that I am a fair bit chunkier than the other scientists and maybe
a little stronger. To prepare myself I go to the gym as soon as we get
to our hotel for an overnight stop before moving on by minibus and helicopter
to our final location. The results aren't good. I may be strong
but after running five kilometres on a running machine it is all too evident
that I am not vaguely fit. More to the point I seem to have contracted
a chest infection of some sort on the flight and my asthma (which isn't
normally a problem) is playing up. Bummer!