January 26, 2009, Monday.
As the old saying goes, seems we are often a day late or a dime short. Shortly after noon today we learned that it is New Zealand’s 169th Anniversary Day. We assume that is something like July 4th back home. Anyway, there was a regatta with tall ships, classic yachts and racing tug boats and other marine spectacles on harbor in Auckland at 9 a.m. today. Darn! We missed it. The racing tug boats would have been fun to watch.
This strikes us funny. I have mentioned previously that one drives on the left side of the road here in New Zealand. Well, I guess because people are so accustomed to being on the left they have developed a habit of also walking to the left. If someone is approaching you on a sidewalk or narrow walkway they will automatically move to their left. This is opposite of what we do in the USA. Notice the next time you are in this situation at home; probably 90% of the time you and the other approaching person will automatically move to your right and pass on your left side. Here in New Zealand people move to their left and you pass on your right side. It is funny to watch the “sidewalk dance” as all we visiting Americans meet oncoming New Zealanders on the walkways and in the malls. We start to move to our right as they move to their left and we are still face-to-face and moving back and forth until one finally stops and lets the other pass on whichever side they chose. You would think this would be a simple thing to remember but old habits die hard. I find myself still automatically moving to the right but am still trying to remember to hang left.
And the polite road signs also give us a chuckle. When we drove up to Whangerei recently there was a lot of highway construction and resurfacing work, so there were lots of temporary road signs in place. These signs are so very polite. Such as when approaching resurfacing work the sign would read: “Please shift to right lane for work ahead” or “Signal persons working; Please be watchful.” And at the end of this resurfacing work the last sign would read: “Thank you for using care while we work; we hope you have not been inconvenienced.” In the USA the signs would read something like: “Construction ahead. $500 fine for failure to obey signs or flagmen.”
Stop signs are very rare here. Instead they use rotaries, what we would call a traffic circle. The cars in the circle always have right-of-way. It is surprising how well the rotaries speed up traffic. Haven’t seen any accidents involving rotaries. And you don’t have to worry about getting a ticket for failure to fully stop like we do at home with our regular stop signs.
Another local thing we have noticed is the proliferation of Roast Meal small restaurants. These are literally everywhere. We haven’t patronized one yet but they smell delicious. Many of these establishments appear to be for take-away only and would be considered fast-food without drive-thrus. The signs read something like: “Roast Meals. Beef, chicken, pork or lamb. Vegetables and roast root vegetables. Green Salads.” Doesn’t that sound much healthier than all the fries and hamburgers and fried chicken sold in the fast-food places in the USA? Also sounds tastier too. There also are fast-food places here in New Zealand – like Wendy’s, McDonald’s and Burger King – but there are far more of the Roast Meal places than fast-food/junk-food type establishments.
Even though English is the primary language here in New Zealand, we still have difficulty understanding everything that is supposedly English. They use different terminology for many things in Kiwi-ese. For example, everyone is familiar with an auto body shop -- where you have dents removed, repaint and repair wrecked cars. Here a shop like that is called a “Panelbeaters.” Thanks to Bill for figuring out what those signs mean. Maori is the secondary language in New Zealand and literally everyone here is familiar with basic Maori language. We are totally lost when Maori gets intertwined with Kiwi English. Remember that every vowel is pronounced in every word in all the Polynesian languages. This is an example of local language in a news article about a teenage boy named Jordan who was killed in an Auckland suburb:
Whanau at Rangitahi Marae were yesterday preparing a feast before the body was returned after an autopsy in Auckland. They were to stay with him overnight before he was taken to a marae in Te Kaha for the tangi.”
Try to get your tongue around all of that. Quite a mouthful, huh? See why we don’t always understand what we hear or read in New Zealand. However, I do love listening to people talk in Maori. It sounds almost musical.
A dinghy repair shop picked up our dinghy earlier this week. The straps that hold the seat in place broke months ago. (It broke on Bill, thank goodness, so I was saved the embarrassment of falling on the floor of the dinghy.) This dinghy has seen better days and looks pretty “tired” and is a bit larger than we really need; but we hope to get a few more years out of it. We have an 11 ½ foot AB inflatable Hypalon dinghy with a double-hulled aluminum bottom and we really like it. Don’t know if they even still make dinghies like this. It already has a few patches on the pontoons but does not leak. The aluminum bottom is lighter weight than a fiberglass bottom and won’t crack like fiberglass if (when) we hit rocks or coral. I know we would never be happy with an inflatable bottom dinghy or one of those removable floor models. So best to repair and keep what we like. The repair is complete and looks great. Check another project off the list.
January 28, 2009, Thursday
Yesterday we rented a machine to clean the upholstery and carpets. This is the first place we have been where these machines can be rented and for months I have very much looked forward to thoroughly cleaning the beige ultrasuede upholstery. BeBe is 6 years old this month and no matter how well you do housekeeping it was past time for the upholstery to be steam cleaned. I would have been happy to pay a professional to clean the upholstery and carpets but we are docked too far from where they could park their truck, so we rented a steam-cleaning machine and did it ourselves. Bill stayed in the cockpit with the machine and I handed up every piece of upholstery and he cleaned it. Then I would take each piece back down and go over it with our new wet/dry shop vac to remove as much moisture as possible. The carpets are velcroed down and were easy to remove for cleaning, except for the carpet in our aft cabin. That one wraps up beneath the vanity and is glued to the walls and cannot be removed. Luckily the long hose reached just perfectly through a cockpit side port to the aft cabin. It is so nice to have everything clean and fresh again. Every boat interior needs to be completely taken apart and cleaned every so often.
February 1, 2009, Sunday
Friday we drove into Auckland to pick up our newly recovered cockpit cushions. We like the colors in the new fabric but we definitely made the wrong choice in buying a striped pattern. The old fabric was also striped but those were very wide stripes. The new fabric has multiple stripes of various widths. Stripes do not work well because of the curvature of the hull and cockpit. Our cockpit looks rectangular but the rear of the cockpit is ever-so-slightly narrower than the forward area of the cockpit. This is due to the boat getting narrower toward the stern and the widest part of the boat is just forward of the cockpit. This curvature causes the fabric striped pattern on the short end of the “L” shaped rear corner cushions to be slightly diagonal. The stripes are correctly aligned on the rest of the cushions, but those 2 short sections on the rear corners have improperly placed stripes. Nothing can be done about this. If the shop had made the stripes align correctly on those 2 short sections then the majority of the stripes on the rest of the cushions all would have been diagonal instead of straight. The shop did an excellent job – we just chose the wrong pattern for cockpit cushions. But the new colors look great.
I have finally used up almost all the thyroid pills that I bought back in Venezuela at such a bargain price. Until a couple of years ago one was able to purchase simple medications like this without a prescription, but New Zealand changed their laws and now one must have a doctor write a script. Our international health cards indicate that both Bill and I are overdue for boosters for Typhum Vi, and Bill needs the second and final immunization for Hepatitis A and the fourth and final immunization for Hepatitis B. The doctor’s office ordered these vaccines and we have appointments for Wednesday morning to take care of everything. The receptionist said the office visit will be expensive since we are not covered by the health care system in New Zealand. “Expensive” to her is dirt cheap to me. A standard doctor office visit will cost me $35 USD and if the doctor insists on lab blood test it will cost me $30 USD. That is dirt cheap compared to USA prices for same health care without insurance.
As soon as that is finished we are finally ready to leave and begin our road trip to the South Island. I want to see a glacier.