March 17th, 2006

shiny!

"Reporting from Middle Earth" or "Well. I'm here."

The flight out was relatively uneventful. I was near the back of the bus but wound up being the only person on my row. It was nice to have the extra room. Despite it being night out one could still look down and see clouds and ocean and the curve of the earth. It was honestly a bit unnerving.

Everyone around me was from New Zealand and the more time I spent around them the more aware I was of my flat American accent.

Each seat in front of us had a screen and one could select TV shows and movies so I wound up watching an episode of Little Britain, Firefly (it just gets better and better) and finally "The World's Fastest Indian." Such a cute movie and hey, Bonneville Salt Flats! :D I tried to watch an episode of Futurama...TWICE. I kept falling asleep during it.

My biggest complaint was my own fault...I had forgotten a water bottle and wound up very, very dehydrated.

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Bit of an adventure through customs. They almost didn't let me in the country. More than a few years ago my passport went through the wash but I'd never had a problem with it flying to and from Canada. They read me the riot act here. If I had been going on to another country rather than back to the states or staying longer they very easily might have rejected me. I was sweating bullets for a little bit. Must get a replacement ASAP. Sure...I finally have a neat stamp on my passport and then have to get a new one. Sheesh.

I just can't understand how someone can act SO mad...so EARLY in the morning! One guy was seriously close to yelling. Fortunately for me...his supervisor was a lot more reasoned. Whew!

They confiscated my beef jerky. I guess I can understand that.

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The air was thick and dark in Auckland. It smells...different. Rich and loamy and humid. I didn't realize how much I was dragging but as I walked from the international terminal to the domestic flight terminal dragging my suitcase people were passing me like I was in slow motion. Perhaps I was.

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The flight from Auckland to Christchurch was uneventful. I slept probaby half the time. The other half I looked out at the tops of mountains. The clouds looked like quilt batting draped over them.
It's overcast in Christchurch today. Reminds me a bit of some of the days in Canada this last summer.

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It was great to see Mark and fun to be driven in a car with the steering wheel on the other side. Christchurch is flat, the houses are cute and all have yards. Mark's place is such a bachelor pad, yet opening up the sliding door and going to the backyard there are several roses. I should go and trim them this week for him.

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I thought I was okay...it's 2:30 on Thursday back home in Utah. Today ... here, now...it's 10:30 in the morning on St. Patrick's day.

Must find a place to nap!
Flying Ace

"Kiwi!" or "Hokey Pokey Ice Cream?"

Considering I have been up with sporadic bits of sleep for about 36 hours I'm doing pretty well.

I have explored much of the Canterbury University taking particular delight in a stream that meanders through the campus.

Later this afternoon MarkB had a meeting in the city center so after some souvlaki (sp?) Mark B went off to a meeting and I got to explore a little bit. I went and saw this really great aquarium as well as a "kiwi room." Kiwis only come out at night so this room was very, very dark but one of the kiwis came right up to the glass and I could see him pretty well in the darkness. They are bigger than I thought and I learned quite a few things about them.

1. Kiwi nostrils are at the end of their very long beak.
2. Kiwi eggs are 3rd largest in the world and the largest in comparison with their body mass. Pregnant kiwis lay eggs about a third of their body mass.
3. The kiwi evolved in an environment without natural predators so they really are more or less defenceless. Domestic cats really wreaked major havok on their population.

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MarkB had told me a favorite New Zealand ice cream is called `Hokey Pokey' so as I strolled back to the building to pick him up I figured I would stop and get me an ice cream. New Zealand ice cream IS as good as they say. Hokey Pokey has a slight honey vanilla flavor to it with bits of crystalized honey caramel. Not sure how to describe it except to say it is good. Really, really good. I'm going to have to get some more.

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Hopefully Mark B will be wrapping things up in another 45 minutes here at the university and then we're headed back to his place. He has surround sound and a projector so I figure he should see some more episodes of Battlestar Galactica. I'm certain I will fall asleep but I think he'll like it.