I still love my red dreadlocks. But it’s time for some dreadlocks maintenance, and today I also met up with another dreaded friend.

Water views at Herne Bay, May 2012
A room with a view — well, a van with a view. Here's our new, little van (when I finally get around to paying for it) and where Elijah and I slept last night. It's a quiet, residential street within easy access of Auckland city.

Now that I’m in Auckland, one of my first stops is at the African Hair Braiding & Extension Centre. Last July, I met Sam and his wife Mercy at their shop on K Road. They’re from Ghana, the country next door to Ivory Coast — where I lived for eleven years. So I’ve felt a special affinity with them from the start.

It was lovely to return to see them almost a year later. They remembered me and asked after the girls and David. It was also fun to introduce them to Elijah who had been in utero when I was last in Auckland.

Getting my dreadlocks tightened, May 2012
As Sam starts to work on my dreadlocks, Elijah is transfixed by our reflections. Since we started travelling, our children don't have access to mirrors very often, and so our young ones are not accustomed to seeing duplicates of themselves or others.

Fafa and Elijah, May 2012
Mercy and I were both pregnant when I visited the salon in July last year, and it's wonderful to introduce 8-month-old Fafa to 5-month-old Elijah.

Elijah playing with my dreadlocks, May 2012
Elijah likes to play and chew on my dreadlocks when he's in my arms, which is one reason I love to have them!

Getting my dreadlocks tightened, May 2012
Sam is considerate of Elijah's needs and I took several breaks throughout the two-hour process to give Elijah the attention he needed. When working on my hair, Sam only uses a crochet hook and a pair of scissors.

Tight dreadlocks, May 2012
When Sam is finished, my dreadlocks are all tight and tidy again.

Of all the people who have done dreadlocks maintenance on my head, Sam is the absolute best! He works quickly and efficiently and doesn’t use any products to help bind the dreads together. I’d love to keep coming back to him for dreadlocks maintenance if we continue to return to Auckland in the future!

After my head was finished, I phoned our friend Johnny from the Far North and arranged to meet him at a local park. It’s a joy to walk around a new city and admire the buildings, the public art and smile at the passersby!

Johnny and Elijah in Auckland, May 2012
Johnny is in Auckland prior to flying overseas, and it's been lovely to see him again — in a much different setting than the Far North!

London plane trees in Victoria Park, Auckland, May 2012
London plane trees border Victoria Park in Auckland city. They were planted for the park's opening in 1905.

London plane trees in Victoria Park, Auckland, May 2012
The dappled trunks and branches of the trees shine brilliantly in the late afternoon sun.

London plane trees in Victoria Park, Auckland, May 2012
I think the natural patterns on the branches look like army camouflage!

We took a nice, leisurely path back to downtown Auckland, determined to enjoy the journey. Because he grew up in Auckland, Johnny knows a lot about the history of the area and could share interesting details of the developments as we passed them by.

Auckland city waterfront, May 2012
Parts of the Auckland waterfront have only recently been transformed into a lovely promenade with residential apartments basking in the harbour views.

Pastorale, Auckland Harbour, May 2012
We are amused to see this boat is sign-written as registered in Oklahoma City, OK — a landlocked state. Perhaps her owners are fiercely patriotic!

Britomart, May 2012
Downtown Auckland's transport hub is called Britomart — a name that is inherited from English settlement.

Britomart, May 2012
The inside of the building maintains a huge amount of space and light down to the lower levels.

It was a pleasure to end the evening at Johnny’s mother’s house and to meet Nanette and Johnny’s sister Kirsty. We’ve heard so much about them, and finally I get to put faces and personalities to the names!

After dinner, I retired to my beautiful little van for the night. There’s bedding in the back to make it comfortable. I don’t mind sleeping in the van, and Elijah doesn’t mind where he sleeps, as long as it’s next to me. After settling Elijah, I watch a movie on the laptop until it runs out of power, and then it’s my bedtime.

It’s fun to be in a tiny space again — already I’m thinking about how I can personalise this vehicle before I present it to my family. Any ideas?