Feeling a bit disappointed, but also a bit relieved, that my tour seems to be coming apart.
Relieved because I was starting to worry about the cost - my goal to pay my visa back in full is proving elusive, partly because of the exchange rate but also just because of stuff, life - things that keep coming up. When I conceived of the tour back in February, I had the extra pay from Daihatsu and the extra classes I was doing, so I was certain it would have been payed back by now.
But also disappointed on a larger scale, since I, silly or not I don't know, kind of conceived of this as the start of something new, a permanent part of my work life, even a new career! Tired of never getting to travel anywhere (the only thing that really interests me longterm) I thought maybe I could recapture lost opportunities by bringing this group, or others, to different places every year. I thought they'd appreciate the chance to travel off-package, with more control or independence, less expense, and with their own private translator to boot.
Ahhh.... Japanese. They like their package tours, they really do!
I at least thought the NZ tour was special - it's the sort of tour *I* would like to take, visiting someone's hometown with them, with a festival going on, personalised invitation-only tours to special places, visiting a family home and attending a family party, a good quality but inexpensive motel, a personal guide who knows the area and can introduce the special, secret places...
The first hitch was K, who brought along a travel agency brochure and said she wanted to also visit Christchurch, Queenstown and Mt. Cook. After I had presented the details of my tour, she had emailed her friend in Christchurch to ask about it, and ask what were the best places to go in NZ. Of course the friend, who lives in Christchurch and probably hasn't even been to the North Island, said Christchurch, Mt. Cook, Queenstown. Typical toursity answer, and not untrue I suppose. K presented it as why would you want to miss out on the best a country had to offer, since this was probably going to be her only chance to go there. I get that in a way, I don't know if I would be happy to go to a small town in New York state for a family birthday party and not get the chance to visit the city! At first I thought I could add a few days, but I miscalculated and realised I couldn't, nor can I afford it. So it was back to plan A.
Then today T showed me a tour she had found. She said her husband said he didn't want to cause me any inconvenience (meiwaku) by having me do all the driving. My protests landed on deaf ears so I can only assume that the truth is that he doesn't trust me, and would prefer the security of a package tour. And actually I have to admit that it's a good one - seven days for 250,000 including hotels, transport and most meals. I have the itinerary beside me, and part of me wants to go too! I would enjoy seeing all those places at least, and being the Kiwi on a Japanese tour of New Zealand would be good for a laugh. But a) it costs too much. My tour worked for me because I could stay at Mum's, get them to cover the car hire, and could expect to charge a gratuity for tour guiding that would pay half my ticket; b) I can't go for a whole week because I have to work on Tuesdays; and c) I would cringe at the waste of money and feel bad that I was paying out so much when I was supposed to be making money out of this and forging a new career!
So at this point in time it looks like it might be squeezed down to just a day or two in the naki, with them after they arrive after doing their South Island tour (if they can finagle the flights, that is, but they probably can't, package tours being generally inflexible). And I wouldn't be able to charge for tour guiding fees since they really would be guests then, so I'd be back to paying for my own ticket. I could take the chance to go back for Mum's birthday but then I'd feel guilty about the fact that it's becoming clear that I won't be able to afford to take the girls for Christmas - my original optimistic plan included all of us going in December - so it's looking more and more like it won't be happening at all. K said today she's not sure if she can go at all. T will go on this tour with her husband and his brother. I will save my cash, go to the mini convention in Huis ten Bosch instead and save my cash to bring my family back to NZ.
That part makes me happy. I was worried about getting too emotional in front of the tour group, returning home after such a long time. I was also afraid I'd feel horribly guilty for not bringing the girls, when they SO want to go. Maybe it's better this way.