Thermal pools

I've been in New Zealand for 19 months now and I'm still surprised at the differences.

I was just thinking about the first time I was at a public thermal pool. It was outside of Auckland, in July--cold as can be--and a new experience on my second day in the country. My first reaction was excitement for a new experience combined with a bit of sensory confusion. 

Picture this: It's cold, it's raining on-and-off and we walk into the pools area. Some pools have covers stretched across them, some are totally open to the elements, some are totally enclosed, but all have steam rising in alluring abundance. We also see a varied combination of people: some in wet bathing suits running across the courtyard, others bundled in parkas and sitting at picnic tables plus many others in various in-between degrees of undress, some wet, some dry. It's a brand-new experience for me as I realized that this sight is an every-day occurrence here.

The changing rooms are culturally different too, as they have a big common-room for dressing and common showers. Fortunately, I'm not a prude, so I don't have a problem with it, but I smile to myself thinking about some people that I know that would end up changing into togs in the loo!!


Rebellion and sandy things

There has been a severe water shortage around the country for the last couple of months now. I'm not a meteorologist [ok, and I don't have the gumption to google for the information, either], but for some reason our area isn't quite as badly hit as a lot of the countryside. We were [and presumably are still--see earlier rant about NZ reporting] under a water ban since December.

The problem is that we have such a lovely garden that we inherited and it's exciting for the whole family, since none of us were gardeners before. I have to admit that my rebellious streak came out the last couple of weeks before the rain and I believe it was passed onto my very law-abiding neighbor. She was over talking to me as I was illegally watering the garden. [To my defense, I have to say that I honestly didn't know there was a ban--again, see earlier rant about NZ reporting] She was commenting that her garden was looking a bit bad because of the water situation. I arrogantly informed her that I don't waste water, and why should our gardens go uncared for just because others don't?! I continued that I didn't think the 'water police' could actually throw me in jail for illegally watering, so I would water until someone official came to tell me to stop! I'm pretty sure that was the turning point for my neighbor to join the ranks of the rebellious because I think I heard her giggling as she quietly went back to her house and directly into the back yard.

Being from the Midwest in America, beaches are a bit rare, so I truly enjoy the scenery when my sweetie takes me sight-seeing. Here are some latest highlights for me:

Sea anemones

Those are dusky dolphins

Lazy seals--what a life!


Rude Kiwis

The doctor I usually see has left the local clinic and I was seen by a Swedish replacement who had only been in the country for about 3 weeks.

We didn't talk long, since I just needed a refill on my meds, but I did manage to warn him that I thought Kiwis were a bit impolite and won't get out of your way unless totally necessary. His comment was that Swedes are *as he made a 'hulk' pose of sorts* stout--I assume he meant a bit unmoved, too.

Maybe it's a European trait that has trickled down the generations.

It's certainly not the American way to do things. Americans will smile at strangers and step out of their way--this being a mutual movement. They will also pull in their feet when you pass by them in a theater or some similar seating arrangement. And if they do accidentally hit you, even a slight graze, 95% of Americans will say "Sorry" in some form, usually with an apologetic smile.

It's strange that I took all that for granted in my former life.