Saturday, March 2, 2013

New in New Zealand

The clock on my phone shows that it is 21 hours later in Auckland than it is in Bend. The common expression is that I have "lost" a day.  For those of us who are sensitive to criticism, struggle with ADD, and fret about aging and the onset of senility, the idea of having inadvertently squandered precious moments is slightly disconcerting. Friday simply evaporated and Saturday arrived untimely, amid fatigue from the long flight and star-crossed with annoying technical hassles. Fortunately the impact of travelling violently through time and space has passed. I am now sitting quite well rested this early Sunday morning in my budget motel room reviewing my first impressions of New Zealand.

In truth I have seen little yet and have spoken with few people. What is abundantly clear though is that locals have the temerity to believe I talk funny.  At home, the fun of hearing a weird English accent which identifies that someone is not American is now reversed. I am now the guy who neither uses the vernacular nor knows how to properly inflect a word such as  "petrol". In addition, being slightly hard of hearing anyway and increasingly feeling like an illiterate U.S. alien, I have had to ask shopkeepers to repeat themselves to be sure I understood how many dollars I owed. At least they don't charge in quids or bobs.

To improve my perception I scrolled the tv remote, something I like to do to when I visit a country, and watched a Maori channel, a Chinese channel, and saw programs on gardening, golf, and evangelism. These reflected what I had seen on the streets, a large amount of cultural diversity. A New Zealander is an Asian, a Maori, a Malayan, a Polynesian, and also incidentally a Caucasian.

It is now time for me to go out. My goal is to negotiate my way to the renowned harbor area and explore. Unfortunately it has started to rain and my skill at driving on the left, with steering wheel and controls on the right reversed, is still somewhat lacking. This is a perilous part of the trip since, already once, I entirely circled a round-about to avoid entering the wrong lane. Among other minor mistakes, I am constantly turning on the windshield wipers instead of the directional signal, a gaffe which today may come in handy. With the GPS on my dashboard to help guide me through this country and not the Southern Cross which is today clouded over, I hope to report many more days of my adventure to you. Too soon my lost day will be found, and I will be in the "States" again.


  1. Fun descriptions. I do hope you stay on your side of the road. Your writing gets better and better.

  2. Looks like a great adventure. I'll follow along. A trout fishing cousin of mine told me the hiking and fishing was great. Maybe someday......:)

  3. First of all, please try not to fret too much about your "lost" day because you're going to regain it coming home. You'll leave New Zealand today (whatever day it is) and arrive yesterday! Strange but true.

    I'm glad you finally posted from New Zealand, because I can finally ask you something you never got around to telling me before, and I never got around to asking you either: Was there any particular reason for your choice of a destination this time? I mean, besides just because you've never been to New Zealand before, although for all I know you have. Is it for the hiking and fishing, as troutbirder suggested? To learn more about Maori culture? Some other reason?

    I have to admit I feel a little nervous about your disorientation driving on the "wrong" side of the street. It makes me wish you weren't driving in New Zealand at all. My husband had a related but not identical problem in London. Although he adapted fairly quickly to driving on the left, he had some scary moments as a pedestrian. We don't usually think about this consciously, but Americans tend to look to the left at an intersection because that's where the oncoming traffic comes from. My husband told me he almost got run over in London a few times, because the oncoming traffic was coming from the "wrong" direction!

  4. Afterthought: I just re-read the last line of your post. So you already know you'll regain your lost day coming home, and didn't need me to tell you that. I don't know why I thought you wouldn't--maybe because it was a brand-new concept for me?

  5. Just remember, when you come home you will gain a day. So, ultimately, in spite of your concerns about senility, etc., you will be fine. My memory is just fine.

    Who are you and why do you show up on my computer?

    Just kidding. I know who you are! You're the most intrepid world traveler that I've ever known. But I say, old chap, you really must work on your driving skills 'ere you end upside down on a telephone pole! And I think with a bit of practice you can get the accent right. If not, hie thyself to a practitioner of hearing aids and stick one or two in thy ears. You 'ear me now?

    And do not depend on your GPS. We made the mistake of doing that one time and almost ended up in the Atlantic Ocean!

    Above all, have fun. I'd say if you made it all the way safely and your luggage arrived with you, you've got a lot to celebrate. That's celebrate, not cerebrate!

    I'm enjoying your blog, as usual!

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