15 November, 2005

Greetings From New Zealand

I finally got internet access today. It's not that Kiwi's are slow movers at doing these things. It is simply that my Kiwi flat mate Ian (that's flattie in Kiwi speech) has been rather busy as of late with his new Asian girlfriend (meet Nicole) and quite frankly pinning him down to get the internet thing done has been difficult. This weekend I put a knee in his chest and threatened his life New York style and low and behold, I now have internet access.

Just to let you all know that I am great and this NZ thing is working out better than expected. I am having way too much fun for my own good. It's like camp, with employment.

Kiwi's are really relaxed, friendly and so incredibly nice. They have an amazing way of life. The sun is usually shinning and when not the rain only spits for a half hour off and on. A Kiwi saying is "There are four seasons in one day, come prepared". Always bring a jersey (sweatshirt). The days are warm and sunny and the evenings are crisp and cool. There are hardly any bugs and so there are hardly any screens on the windows. Expect your weekends to include indulging at a café with wine and friends or being out and about in the country or at the beach. These people are relaxed beyond belief. They believe in never stressing out. I can honestly say that I am not missing the angry people in New York. And I am not glazing over this like a Krispy Kreame, I have seriously not met an angry person yet. And I am on the lookout. Kiwi's love their wine, their food, their sport and their mates. And damn these people can drink. Kiwi pastimes include Rugby, Cricket (which now that I know the rules is a pretty cool game) and drinking. I think they out drink the Ozzies in fact. I will let you all know when I should begin my stay at Betty Ford. This week I am taking a breather and have pulled my boat into dry dock. It's not that I don't want to have fun, but every person that I have met has invited me out with them and so I have become more of a social butterfly than I was in NY. Not complaining but I think my liver needs a break.

So without further adieu, here is the rough run down since I have been here………

Monday, 24th of October

Left New York via JFK and cried at the airport with Mom and Dad. In fact there was a point in the waving process as I was passing through the gates that I wanted to jump into Mom's arms and ball my eyes out. It was harder than I thought. I didn't have to wait too long for my plane and seven hours later landed in LA. I met two great girls on the plane and one was from Sydney, we chatted up a storm. Later that day or was it Tuesday, I could not tell you at that point, because it took me two damn days to get to Auckland. After LA, I took a hideous 14 hour flight from LA to Auckland. Read: HIDEOUS. By hour 6 I was feeling a bit like "is this hell ever going to end". Apparently, it's routine for the down under folks and they thought that I was an amateur. Ended up doing yoga in the back of the plane to keep my feet from swelling into grapefruits.

Wednesday, 26th of October

Finally landed in Auckland and was met at the airport by my flattie Ian. Great guy. Defiantly has a good case of ADD and is funny as hell. He did the quick drive by on all the typical tourist spots and then took me to my new flat. Nice flat; open, airy and smack in the middle of central Auckland. I have a great room, not on the street side and it is fully furnished. Met my other flattie Lyn and was rather surprised that I really like her a lot and we get along like mad. In the afternoon was very jet lagged and feeling kinda off my game so I went for a walk, called Mom and Dad, cried a bit and thought that I made the HUGEST mistake of my life and wanted to jump back on the plane and run with my tail between my legs. I have to give props to M&D, they told me that I had to stay and give it at least a month. Yeah, I was kinda freaking out.

That first night in the flat Ian and I hung out and he treated me to my first authentic (Not Lord of the Rings) Kiwi flick: Once Were Warriors. It's about he Maori culture and does not paint them in a good light at all. Let's just say that I was rather disturbed by the content in the movie which did not add to my increasing idea that I was going to be really unhappy living here. Of course Ian went up to bed in the middle of the movie and I was left sitting on my new couch freaking out. Thank God Day One ended and I have not looked back since.

Thursday, 27th of October

Threw myself out of my flat early in the morning, money and map of the city in hand and made a valiant attempt at figuring out the bus route and did a few laps around the city. I ended up in Newmarket, which is the Auckland version of Broadway in midtown and did a bit of shopping. Stopped and chatted with lots of folks and met some really friendly people and spent the day bopping in and out of shops and coffee houses. Made a vow to never drink Starbuck's coffee ever again as long as I live. Why? Because the coffee here is incredible. It's rich and luscious and anyone who has a caffeine addiction like I do would want to mainline this stuff like crack. It's that good. And it's inexpensive compared to Starbucks anyway. Oh and you get to sit down at these nifty little café deals and enjoy the coffee and the passersby. Make a note of the fact that in most restaurants and café's there is no table service and you don't tip at all. Good to know, kind of saves on money a bit. Also, the wait staff is well paid, so they don't give a poo weather or not your food is ready on time. But they are still friendly and amiable and will gladly give you free advice and chat you up a storm and end up sitting with you just shooting the breeze for an hour (also another Kiwi past time). Learned about 'taking the piss'. That's Kiwi lingo for 'getting ragged on'. 'Taking the piss' is a rather important Kiwi endeavor. It is something you do regularly with your Mates (friends) and nothing is ever out of bounds. I now know how to 'take the piss' and give and take quite regularly thank you very much. Also of note, if you are an American, you are especially a target for a good piss and you must be prepared to laugh at yourself. Especially good at 'giving the piss' are the English folk that are here from the U.K. Tony Blair is their God and they are still a bit peeved with us about that whole succeeding from the crown thing.

Friday, 28th of October

My first day at my new office and was formally introduced to my 28 other office mates. All men. Not a female among them. Yep I am the first. And also the first and only American. So, good on me I now have to contend with teaching 28 guys how to not say idiotic things in front of a woman and get the double whammy of being an American and taking their piss often. They are a good group of guys though and I think that I have won most of them over. Also, I am in charge of developing their Quality Assurance program for testing. Could I have any more expectations to live up to?

Found out two very important details on my first day at work: a) Kiwi's don't high five and look at you like a deer in headlights. It is really an American thing to do. And I am embarrassed myself whole heartedly when there was no high-five follow through and was rightly left hanging. I felt like and ASS! And b) most people here have traveled quite a bit outside of NZ and therefore are a bit more worldly then American's are I must say. You would think that a country so far away would be isolated, but that is not the case.

My First Weekend – the Highlight

Made my way to Devonport; a rather pretty and quaint little town with older Victorian homes right on the water. It's a little bit oh land jutting off of the main city of Auckland, right over the water and I had to take a rather cool ferry to get there. Took loads of pictures and met the entire New Zealand Royal Navy. Well, I think I met them all. There are only 2,000 of them. (Important note to add here, my high school alone had about 3,500 kids and my county had about 12 high schools. So 2,000 people in the entire Navy made me a chuckle a bit, still does). Met some fun people and learned the meaning of the word Mate. Hung out for a bit, played some pool, got pissed [(second version of the word piss… you can either take the piss (to get ragged on) or get pissed (get drunk). Both of which I think I can master shortly)].

My Second Weekend – the Highlight

Left Auckland for the first time. And it was ROCKING AWESOME!!! Drove out of the city with my flattie Lyn, her mate Riz (a new friend of mine as well) and another new mate Paul. Piled into Paul's car and headed out for Lake Taupo. Lake Taupo is a 4 hour drive from Auckland and is the home to Mount Rapaou. Mt. Rapaou as I just found out is actually the site of Mount Doom from the Lord of the Rings. 25 minutes outside of Auckland you are greeted by some of the most incredible, the most green and the most beautiful country side I have ever had the amazing experience of seeing in person in my entire life. I am not kidding folks, it's greener then a professional football field on acid. It's that green. And the SHEEP, can I tell you about the sheep. They are everywhere. By the end of the weekend and by the 40,000th "Oh my GOD, LOOK AT THE SHEEP!", my new mates were like "Okay Kala, enough with the sheep, we get it!". So I moved on to the cows! Four hours later and one hell of a drive we made it to Lake Taupo and then spent the entire weekend hiking the three mountains, walking through LIVE geysers, drinking in the café's in down and laughing up a storm.

My Third Weekend – The Highlight

Have any of you seen Bridget Jones? You know that party, with the Pimps and Prostitutes theme? You thought that was funny right. Well, shit. They actually do that here. And I went to one. As a prostitute! About 200 people showed up for a party, all dressed to the 9's in their costumes and everyone had a blast. An English pastime we American's should rightly adopt. Funny as hell. Also got an opportunity to do a run through the Domain (their version of Central Park) and take in a bit oh Kiwi culture (besides the drinking and the rugby).

My Fourth Weekend – Can You Believe I Have Been Here for Four Weekends!

Okay, so I am tired now and a bit partied out and I actually have a job that I love and am having a great time doing. Found a Girl's Lacrosse pick up league and my first practice is tomorrow (so excited). Have made some really good friends. Love my roommates. Have figured this city out quite a lot. It's small and really manageable and feels kinda like Boston. Have made it to the clubs (defiantly small in venue, big in party). Have done some great work at work. And am thoroughly enjoying myself. Next weekend I am being taken sailing by some new mates and will spend the weekend on the water soaking up the sun and feeling like my life doesn't suck. For Christmas I have already made plans to traverse the South Island with a professional hiking tour group and I am walking, walking, and walking everywhere.

Oh and P.S. My sister-in-law is having a girl…. hee, hee… And I will be in New York in April.