Tuesday, 17 January 2012

It's Official - I'm a Blogger

Greetings from New Zealand and welcome to my blog. I woke up at 7:54am this morning and then went back to sleep for five minutes, woke up again and took the dog out, thought about what I was going to eat for breakfast, made what I had just thought about then.... just kidding people it's not going to be one of those blogs. 
Sunday marked six weeks here in my new country.There are lots of things you can do in  six weeks but here is what I've done - learned to drive on the opposite side of the road, read six books, gone on some amazing outdoor adventures, and seen more people grocery shopping barefoot than I can count.

While I was still working on getting this blog started I sent out an update to friends and family telling them about my new life. I think it captures my experience in New Zealand so I have made it my first official post. Here it is -
Howdy folks from rainy* but beautiful Auckland! We have celebrated our first holidays as a married couple and our first ever away from home. It was definitely hard being so far from family during that time but we survied. Highlights include: unpacking boxes (and one package - thanks Mallary!), making potato latkes, going swimming Christmas day, and attending an expat Christmas Eve party where the host's entire family in Ohio stayed up until 2am so they could read us Twas the Night Before Christmas over Skype. It was as awesome as it sounds. Shortly before Christmas our container arrived to our home, along with a customs official to make sure everything passed the strict NZ regulations - it did! Thurston survived his stay in quarantine and has made a seamless transition to his new surroundings. He is officially a beach dog although still not a water dog.
NZ culture continues to amuse and surprise me on a weekly basis. Kiwis are very laid back as a whole which is great most of the time. They just don't have that sense of urgency and need for customer service that we have in the States. A conversation I heard at my local coffee shop typifies it: a customer orders her coffee and asks can I get a new coffee card. The barista says oh you know we are all out, I tried to call our printing guys a couple times but there is no answer they must still be on Holiday. Cheers mate. It just made me laugh because this type of thing happens all the time. I have had similar experiences like trying to get a haircut and places are just shut done for literally 3 weeks to go on vacation and it's totally normal.Sometimes they will leave a greeting saying they are away but not always.
Grocery shopping is quite the adventure although I'm getting better at it. A lot of things have different names such as Caspsicum = Bell Peppers, Kumara = Sweet Potato, Coriander = Cilantro and the so on. Then there are things grocery stores just don't carry which is why Adam and I took a trip to a little place we had heard about called Martha's Backyard. It is an American specialty store that many expats had told us about. It is owned by Kiwis who after much thought decided that Martha Washington, Martha's Vineyard, and Martha Stewart were as American as it gets and alas Martha's Backyard was born. What you can expect to find here is a shack like building with the most expensive bag of semi sweet chocolate chips you'll ever find along with Graham Crackers, Kosher salt, and yes Cheez Wiz (there was a child in the store begging her mom for it). All of these items along with many more are nowhere to be found on regular grocery shelves. So I'm glad to know it's there in case I get a craving for something but I can assure you Martha Stewart would never set foot in this place.
We are slowly but surely meeting people but have only one real friend btw the two of us so clearly that is going to need to change. I have reached out to a couple girls I found online from reading their expat blogs and my blind friend dates have gone pretty well so far. I usually wear a neon safety vest so they can identify me and at the same time not to stop traffic with my American beauty. The girls I have met have been cool but I'm not giving out any best friend necklaces anytime soon. In the meantime I look forward to having a glass of wine and watching Ellen every day at 4:55 and think I might have referred to her as my friend the other day.

I have started looking for a job and doing some networking so hopefully that will lead to something good sooner rather then later. I really do miss my work and having a professional outlet. Things could be worse as I fill my days with walks on the beach, cooking, reading, and trying different workout and yoga classes. I just took a Zumba class and when the lights went down and the strobe lights came on (not kidding!) I was transported somewhere far far away and loved every Latin minute of it. The 75 year old woman standing next to me also appeared to be enjoying herself.
New Zealand is truly so beautiful and there are so many amazing outdoor activities to do and wonderful hikes to go on. We did a great tramp (what kiwis call hiking) to Rangitoto, a volcano outside of Auckland that is a short ferry ride away. We also did an amazing trek through the Waitakere Ranges and ended up on the beach where they filmed the Piano. There are so many cool places to go no matter which directon you head. Right now we are planning a trip to do the Milford Track on the South Island, a 4 day hiking extravaganza that according to a NZ poet I've never heard of is the "finest walk in the world." Adam also has to do a lot of work trips in the months to come so I will be going with him on some of the ones that are in more desirable places which should be fun. In February we are headed to the Art Deco capital of NZ for their big festival and to Hawkes Bay, one of the wine regions here.
I think that's all for now. A special thanks to those who have gotten on skype, sent cards our way, or just an email update. I can't tell you how great it is to hear from a friend or family member when you live this far away.
And now that I have a blog I guess that means I'll add complete strangers to the list of people I welcome hearing from.
*It is now currently sunny but I've learned that can change at any moment. Thank goodness for cute rain boots or gum boots as they call them here.

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