29 July 2010

Reason #8: The Food

I just noticed there's no July post, and am therefore in danger of losing my link to Michael's page. As a result, this isn't the most highly edited work:

The food here is amazing. We live in Hawke's Bay, the fruit basket of New Zealand, and have access to really fresh produce all year long. Kiwis are in to eating seasonally; you can get foreign produce in the grocery stores, but I've seen almost no one actually buying it, with the exception of bananas. Admittedly, there isn't an abundance of great restaurants, but cooking at home is more rewarding than I ever found it in the U.S. My list of the BEST Kiwi food:

1. Pies. (the kind with meat and/veggies, not sweet!)
2. Butter (the richest, freshest stuff you've ever tasted)
3. Milk (the skim doesn't taste like water, and the full doesn't taste like pure fat!)
4. Eggs - if you've never had fresh eggs, you're missing out
5. Kiwifruit - we eat it almost every day
6. Pumpkins (the Kiwi generic for squash)
6. Whatever fruit is in season - right now, pretty much Kiwifruit and apples.

28 June 2010

Reason #7: Rugby

Anyone reading this probably knows I'm not a competitive athlete. I'm a slow cyclist, a terrible runner, and a sailor who hates racing. But as a New Zealander, I adore rugby. I may enjoy watching it even more than football (sorry, Peyton.) My favorite team is, of course, the All Blacks. Here are Nicole's Top Ten Reasons that All Blacks rugby is the best sport ever:

10. You have to perform to stay on the team: the roster changes every week.
9.   The clock never stops.
8.   No commercials.
7.   Coolest. Uniforms. Ever. (Unlike other national teams, a minimum of sponsor logos.)
6.   When you watch on TV, you can hear everything the ref says (not that I understand most of it...)
5.   Instant replay.
4.   The kicker actually plays the whole game (and Daniel Carter is amazing.)
3.   It's a gentleman's game... the ref calmly explains the rules, when necessary, to the captains.
2.   The boys wear shorts.
1.   The Haka.

New Zealand is hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2011. We'll be trying to get tickets to see the USA play Ireland on 9/11/2011.... can't wait!

14 May 2010

Reason #6: Everything is Reversed

In New Zealand, everything is backwards. Of course, New Zealanders don't think so. Case in point: when our Samsung fridge was delivered, the young bloke hooking it up had trouble turning it on.  Finally, he figured out that he had to flip the switch up. His comment? "The switches in Japan must turn on when you flip them up. Huh. That's weird." (Note: this is the only Kiwi I've met who wouldn't know that Samsung is a Korean company; but this post isn't about their freaky geography prowess.) Light switches do indeed switch down to turn on, which is a never-ending source of amusement for me.

Other things are backwards as well:
  1. Roads, obviously. In New Zealand, as in most other Commonwealth countries, we drive on the left. I actually like it, for some indefinable reason. Perhaps my love of English literature?
  2. Drains. Nope. That one's a myth. But toilets here do seem to violently flush straight down. Newer toilets have 2 buttons... I'm never quite sure which to press.
  3. Time. When we first heard "eleven half," we weren't sure if that meant 10:30 or 11:30. Since it was a lunch date, we went with the latter. Luckily, we were right.
  4. Using the credit card machine at the grocery store. You have to wait for the cashier to tell you to swipe, then you swipe, choose your account, and enter your pin. Something about the order feels wrong, though it sounds the same as in the U.S. Nevertheless, I always do it wrong.
  5. Pumping gas. You pump first, then pay. It's old-school U.S. There are also people to wash your windows (no tips, of course.)
  6. At the end of the meal, even in a nice restaurant, you go up to pay at the counter. I think they will bring a check if you ask, but no one actually does. I'm guessing it's gauche to ask. Queues form just before the rugby game is going to start.
  7. Prepositions seem to be reversed and used without articles. "Good on ya" and "in hospital" are popular phrases.
  8. The nicest, most helpful people around work at the Post Shoppe.

05 May 2010

Reason #5: Quiz Night

While taking a break from stacking wood (quickly becoming my #1 reason NOT to move to NZ) I am pondering the fun that was quiz night at the Rose and Shamrock last night. While not a NZ phenomenon, quiz nights are incredibly well-attended here in Havelock North. The Rose and Shamrock is not a small pub, and it was packed full of people of all ages (over 18, of course.) We had to bring in the plastic chairs from the patio so that we could sit down. The teams with the most points win bar tabs, which would have been pretty darn cool. We all agreed to drink the tab immediately should we win.

Our team was Sarah, her partner Nick, our Irish friend Aoife, Michael and I. The categories for quiz night last night were:

1) Famous name changes
2) Plays and Playwrights
3) Monarchs
4) Geography
5) Sport
6) Music
7) Inventions
8) Trivia

Needless to say, Team Green did not win. There were some pretty obscure questions, and the music category consisted of the announcer playing a 70s disco song, and you had to list the artist who sang it.

My two best answers of the night were the ones my team voted me down on:

Longest ruling British monarch? Victoria, of course! But the queen's subjects at my table all thought it was Elizabeth I, so naturally I acquiesced to them. Why didn't they listen to the American?

The author of The Importance of Being Earnest? Oscar Wilde was my first answer. But Aoife insisted it wasn't him, and since he was an Irish bloke, I had to go with her.

Answers I almost got: which race started in 1903 and goes for over 2000 kilometers? I answered the Iditerod. As it turns out, the Iditerod didn't start until the 1970s, although its roots are older. The answer: The Tour de France!!! How did I miss that one???

And what did Colonel Schlick invent? I said the safety razor, which we amended to disposable safety razor. He actually invented the ELECTRIC razor.

Of course, at least I knew Monopoly was based on Atlantic City, which from the groans in the pub, was an answer few teams got right.

All in all, an entertaining evening. And I owe Aoife a beer.

23 April 2010

Reason #4 - Our House

A video of our new digs
Our house in New Zealand

Despite its quirks (no garage, really, really cold) I like the house we're renting in Havelock North. It's in a quiet neighborhood, I'm sharing no walls with neighbors, and it has a fig tree. I've had a good time setting it up and getting everything just so. There's nothing like moving across an ocean to get you to purge your stuff down to a manageable level... and since clutter is overpriced here, I'm not tempted to buy more!

27 March 2010

Reason #3: Clotheslines

Everyone here has a clothesline. (Except our Candian-American friends in Auckland, but they aren't real Kiwis, I guess.)

One appliance saleswoman was sort of talking us out of getting a dryer. She mocked a neighborhood in which she had lived in Australia because they wouldn't allow clotheslines. "They said it made us look like the third world or something. Imagine."

Kiwis hang their clothes to dry. Not because they have to. Not because dryers are outrageously expensive (though they are.) Because they can. And why not? The air is clean, the sun is extra-bright, and no one thinks you're poor or trashy for having a clothesline. It saves a few dollars, yes, and is good for the enviornment, but mostly, it's practical.

I have a fabulous clothesline. It's hung above the edge of our deck, so I don't have to reach up, and there's lots of room for big items like sheets to hang clear of the ground.

Due to the lack of a vent for a dryer, we bought a washer-dryer combo. So we have a clothes dryer, but I'm using it less and less. Why not hang stuff out on a sunny day? It's picturesque, It will make our clothes last longer, and Michael will learn to live with itchy jeans.

It's the Kiwi way.

08 March 2010

NZ Move Reason #2: Tea

Since my brief stint in Russia, I’ve missed the daily ritual of tea. I love tea. I drink it without sugar, sometimes with milk or lemon. Since the day we arrived, I’ve commented on a daily basis that the first thing we need to buy for our Kiwi house is an electric tea kettle.

Like their British relatives, Kiwis drink tea. At work, you don’t just have breaks; they are “tea breaks.” And, as Michael discovered you use the tea brink to drink tea. Employers provide tea, and people actually drink it.

Every hotel room has an electric tea kettle and a tea pot, and we were handed a small bottle of milk at check-in in Napier so that our tea would be properly fortified.

The best example: at a barbeque on Friday night, Michael commented to an Irish coworker that we don’t have electric tea kettles in the States. This turned into a conversation with the whole group about the inconceivability at our tea-kettle deficiency. They were incredulous when I told them Americans heat our water for tea on the stove. It was tantamount to announcing that Americans are barbarians. Perhaps the only thing more tragic in a Kiwi’s eyes would be warm beer.

I think I’ve convinced Michael that the tea kettle is a necessity…. we otherwise might be ostracized from Kiwi society.