Sunday, June 04, 2006

First days of Winter

Sorry about not writing sooner, but we have been so busy running all around trying to become locals that we have not been loyal to our readers.

Mea Culpa.

When we last left off, we had not yet purchased a car. That is all different now. Thanks to our friends, Eyal and Frith, we borrowed a cheap auto of theirs, returned the rental and kicked around town searching.

Our dear brother-in-law in California , Larry, who is a used car salesman, advised us to get a Honda CRV. So we walked over to Bowater Honda and met the amicable Nick Devereaux who promptly sold us a 2002 CRV that is really clean with 48K miles. As Dad likes to say, "You can eat off the engine". Of course, the odometer is in kilometers and the price is in NZ dollars. Haven't done this much math since 7th grade. By the way, math students always asked me in their typical whine, "Why do we need to learn this?"

Now I know the answer is that you may need to buy a car in New Zealand. The photo is a facsimile. Later we will show the real deal.

We are waiting (and hoping) for the exchange rate to drop before we write the final check and pick it up. Until then, we are using the borrowed car.

Kimberly was shopping for a coffee pot. Did we mention there is only a small coffee press in our house? A tiny cup of coffee in our world is merely foreplay. It takes 3-4 a day to reach caffeine orgasm. So in looking for the coffee maker, she found a store called Briscoe's and they are having a big Queen's Birthday Sale. Needless to say, the Queen's is quite the VIP in New Zealand and her birthday is bigger than Washington's and Lincoln's put together. There is no school and all govt. offices are closed. I think everyone runs around in tiaras and long royal gowns.

We'll see.

Briscoe's manager, Robyn, offered us a sweet deal. Kimberly felt like Queen for a day. We walked out with a vacuum cleaner and a propane gas room heater with which to solve our morning chill problems.

I still can't start a fire that will stay lit and warm the house. Back in California, we had the kind that would start with a gas flame. Out here they use stuff called "kindling". Anyway, the propane deal is doing the trick quite nicely, thank you.

On Friday, we decided, or to be honest, Kimberly decided that after her yoga class we needed to take a walk around the outskirts. I purchased some walking maps, but on the way back, bumped into another person we have met, Kay.

Kay works at Falafel Gourmet, where we had lunch once. We were drawn in by the Hebrew sign that said "Shalom". Turns out the cook is an Israeli guy.

Of course, I was eager to enter and eat some Middle Eastern food and rub elbows with my kin. The falafel was delicious, as only an Israeli could concoct. It was too big and I will never order a "large" again. And it was certainly not Kosher, which may be a plus. We referred to Kay as the mother of all falafels.

the MOAF, who met me in the street, remembered my name and advised us to walk up to a point on the mountain behind Nelson which is the geographical center of the country.

So off we went.

Within a few hundred yards along the street, we came to a little iron gate which said "Queen's Garden" (there she is again).

In we went, and all I can say is, "Long live the Queen".

The small city block size park was filled with duck ponds, gardens, statues, benches, fountains, and a small cafe. It was ridicuously tidy and neat. I offered to stop the hike right there and rest for the remainder of the day. But some of us reminded the others that our purpose was exercise and we could lie down plenty after we were dead.

Of course, we forgot the camera, so included is somebody else's photo I found on the internet. I promise to go back and get some shots. Not having a camera for this post gets worse as you will see. Or I should say, as you will not see.

Leaving the Queen's Garden, we tramped along and began climbing a well maintained path up a rather steep hill. As usual, I took the lead, jogging all the way through the tree and bush covered trail. At the top was a lovely sitting area with a sort of monument and plaque and 360 degrees of fantastic view with Tasman Bay in front and the remarkable Maitai Valley behind. The ubiquitous sheep grazed lazily on the lush green hillsides.

We decided to wander down the back of the mountain into the Maitai Valley. This place is very safe and you really can't get into much trouble. Also there are no bears.

It was a stunning stroll which needed to be stopped at times to stare at the landscape of the valley. At the bottom is a huge park, Branford Park, with the Maitai River meandering through it as you can observe from somebody else's photo.

We never knew this was right here in Nelson.

Following the park and the river for a few miles we were right back by the cathedral in mid city.

Back in town, we discovered a beautiful music hall where students from all over the world come to study. On entering, we learned that on this very night was a performance of NZ comedians. Since we have decided to try everything, we figured it would be easy to snag a couple of tickets. As it turns out, the show was sold out and we were lucky to get 2 in the back row. TicketMaster, where are you when we need you?

We thought we might not get the humor, but it was funny and dirty just like in the states. There was the prop comic and the guy who mocked GWB and the one who made fun of those in the front row. Needless to say, we were not made fun of where we were sitting.

Saturday came and it was a very chilly day. We went to the Saturday market and I was freezing my head off. I quickly bought a scarf and gloves and a hat of sorts. As anyone who knows me is aware, I do not wear hats. For some reason, they look funny on me and people laugh. The girl who sold me the hat laughed, I think. Or maybe she surpressed it to make the sale. When I walked back to Kimberly, who was buying vegetables, she laughed so hard, she dropped her tomatoes. You be the judge.

That's enough for now. Next post will tell about house hunting, which will include more pictures and self mockery.


At 2:25 PM, Anonymous kimber said...

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