Tuesday, September 9, 2008

One More Night

It is hard to believe that our NZ adventures come to an end tomorrow - we leave on Wednesday at 5PM (local time), and arrive back in NJ at around midnight Wednesday night. It has been an amazing experience with memories to last a lifetime. The girls are definitely ready, and we are too (I think). It will be hard to leave our little home in Devonport, but we will be happy to get back and see friends and family and start school!

Here is a final album that covers the last part of our big travels around NZ, on the South Island from Nelson to Christchurch:

New Zealand Travels 3

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Winding down...

We are now in the homestretch of our trip. Teaching is now over, and I can relax. We've enjoyed a weekend exploring some more sights of Auckland (more volcanoes! can't get enough of them). We return home on Wednesday, and are starting to clean up the house and gather up all of our crap. Spring is starting to, well, spring up here in Northern NZ...trees are flowering, birds are singing, so it will be weird to head back home where they are getting battered by tropical storm remnants, and starting (I guess) to have chillier nights and the thoughts of autumn. Maybe.

7 weeks into our trip, we are really getting the hang of this kiwi accent. The most noticeable aspect of it, and I think the thing that distinguishes it from British, or Aussie, or S. African (which of course all sound the same to the American ear) is the short "e", which they change to a short "i". We first noticed it when we met our cab driver from the airport, whose name was Terry, but they way he said it sounded like "Teary". We took the ferry, which they say like "firry", head sounds like "hid", dead sounds like "did", etc. I've apparently been giving things that sound like "lic-tures".

The challenging thing to me is to determine when to start talking like a local. Should say elevator, when I know they say lift? It seems obvious that I should. But should I start to say "firry"? I think we have been sounding more kiwi, and probably sounding very silly. I remember talking to a neighbor about their kids' "football" games, and she said, " you mean soccer, right?". I didnt know if she was just pandering to me or if they really said 'soccer' here. (they do.). I'm starting to say ba-NAH-nah or to-MAH-to as they do here - but I probably just sound ridiculous. Still can't say "zed" instead of "zee" though -- that is too weird. I did enjoy hearing a song by Zed Zed Top on the radio however!!!

Other things they say that I hope not to bring home with me: bell pepper = capsicum; bathing suit = togs; pick-up truck = ute; kitchen counter = bench. The weirdest one for me has been course = paper, as in "I am taking three papers at university this term", or "what will I need to do to pass this paper?" Another weird one is "pie" - I would never turn down an offer for pie at home, since it is one of my favorite things -- but pies here are savory, not sweet, and usually contain ground beef/lamb - like our "pot pie" - and are the kind of cuisine you find wrapped in plastic sitting in a warming machine at a convenience store, which here is called the "dairy", which sounds like "deary". Sigh.

Monday, September 1, 2008

More Deep Thoughts

Back at work - getting ready to teach is taking a loooong time. Teaching starts again Wed so I might disappear then...I'll try and get some more photos up first.

In the meanwhile, some more random NZ observations:

  • Barefeet. We see an awful lot of folks in barefeet - students in school, people walking the streets, in stores, restaurants, everywhere. It is kind of cool that the streets are clean enough to do this - even so, there must be some serious callouses.
  • Condiments. Kiwis seem to be very stingy when it comes to condiments. Ketchup (or to-MAH-to sauce), mustard, or anything else, is not to be found in huge vats to be pumped out to your hearts content. Even when you order French Fries, (chips), you might get charged an extra 50c for ketchup. We went to McDonalds (I know, I know) and asked for extra ketchup - they gave us one little packet. When you get fish and chips you have to pay extra for tartar. They do have this lovely stuff called sweet chili sauce, that is definitely worth the extra 50c...
  • Heat. Most houses and buildings do not have central heat...they all have little portable electric heaters in every room. It makes for cold buildings in the winter (and big electric bills for people renting houses!!!). All hotels have heated towel racks, which is a nice touch, but mostly pointless.
  • "No worries". This is my favorite NZ saying (although it might be Australian) - said as we might say "You're welcome".
  • Friendliness. Everyone and their brother tells you about how nice Kiwis are. It is really true. People go out of their way to be nice and help you out. It is contagious - I think I've become nicer. We did have one experience with a rude waitress, but by the end of our meal, she had magically disappeared from the restaurant. Maybe she was deported for not-nice-ness.
  • Oysters. They have the biggest oysters here. I love raw oysters, but this monstrosity was just too much (and it is not like you can take a little nibble of a raw oyster, you've got to just eat the whole thing). It almost made me toss my cookies. And would it have killed them to serve a little cocktail sauce with it?? (see above).
  • "Wee". We like the use of the word 'wee'. As in, "it's a wee bit cold today", or "Would you like a wee more wine?". Kezia has been referred to more than once as our "wee one". I saw a truck advertising a fix-it guy called the "Wee Job Man". And yes, 'wee' is also used in the traditional way...