I know, I know, Jan’s the storyteller and the writer, but I’m itchin’ to report some of the “funness” of being with him in New Zealand. This essay will be more like headlines, without thesis sentence and composition elements. You”ll be takin’ your chances.
When we arrived in Auckland, Jan didn’t rent our little, bright blue tin can to include me as a driver, so I get to laugh when he intends to signal a turn and instead switches on the windscreen washer. I get excited when I see a roundabout coming up to hear the “goddammit!!” Unfortunately, he’s adjusting.
Riding only inches above the sealed road and on the wrong side at 100km/hr with no control feels similar to the time I volunteered to being strapped into a “modified” Mustang with a hairy faced race car driver at the Portland Raceway. Mostly terror without the thrill. The roads are curvy, hill, and narrow. Turning right is scary–for both of us. I’m thinking that maybe Jan had some misgivings about being the passenger so paid to be the one and only driver.
The mostly Japanese cars are imported new and used; hence no manufacturers or assembly plants remain in NZ (except a very few specialty and kit businesses). Subarus are called “sooBAHroos.” And auto colors are brilliant.
We’re in a village (one of NZ’s “sweet words”) of Baylys Beach on the Kauri Coast. When it’s not high tide, one can drive 107 km along the beach with no police patrols; however, a prominent sign at the entrance displays a towing company’s mobile number. Lovely breeze and no coats needed. Drive down in the evening in your Ute (utility truck), unpack a table, chairs, and your barbie to have an evening meal while watching the sun set over the Tasman Sea.
For breakfast out, we most often order a long black (cup of black coffee) and a flat white (cafe au lait). Bakeries open in the morning in every village–the “pies” are dangerously yummy as are the sausage rolls. In the Rose Cottage we had French batard, Camembert, avocados, tomatoes, smoked marlin, boiled eggs, and mandarins most days.
The “original” Maori seem to have assimilated with the later “immigrants.” They first killed a few Dutchmen in 1642, but then they butchered and ate lots of the English intruders. And the European in trade gave them venereal infections, measles, influenza, typhoid fever, dysentery and tuberculosis Aren’t we lucky the Donald has yet to suggest cannibalism or germ warfare? Or has he since we left?
The different Maori tribes are gaining ground in repatriation of their original rites. The day we arrived the nation was celebrating the Treaty of Waitangi, with good news of continuing negotiations for the hoodwinking the Maori took in 1840. Colonialism looks so different with hundreds of years of history, eh?
I intended to get a Maori design tattoo, but have changed my mind for a few reasons. A young woman corrected me when I asked about hers. It’s properly and respectfully called a “moko” in Maori. Here’s one reason.
The many logging trucks on the highways surprised us. Their planted pine forests are vast, and the logs look like giant toys–short, thick, and similar. The natural forest protect the giant kauris with thick green bushes and palms growing right up to the road.
It’s early fall here, but the variety and colors of flowers don’t seem to be fading. NZ has charm in so many ways, and “It’s not America–yet.”