A few things I have learned in my first 6 months in New Zealand:
1) I’ve been eating a kiwi the wrong way my whole life! First off, they call them kiwifruit here, I guess to differentiate from the kiwi-human and the kiwi-bird. Anyway, my whole life I have delicately pealed and then sliced the delicious fruit in order to eat it. But, who knew that all you have to do is slice it in half and the spoon out the yummy goodness inside each half. And it’s so much fun this way too! Maybe, everyone else has known this trick and I’ve been in the dark but I now feel enlightened. If you do to now, then you’re welcome. Happy kiwi eating!
2) It can be harder to bike downhill than uphill. Really it can be. It’s happened to me riding home from work. With a strong southerly pounding my face going downhill my legs burned to push me onward. With the wind at my back heading uphill, I barely had to work to get up to the top. I was baffled at this phenomenon, until I had to go uphill with the wind in my face, then I was just exasperated.
3) How to drive like a kiwi. This is not just remembering to drive on the left. I have a mantra (‘drive on left, drive on left’) that takes care of this. But, New Zealand has a strange rule that does not exist anywhere else (not even Britain) that is very hard for me to get used to. I’ll switch this example around so that you non-British country drivers can understand. Imagine you’re driving along a 2 lane road. You want to turn right. Someone is coming the other direction who wants to turn left down that same road. You have to give way to that car! Light or no light, stop sign or no sign. It’s a crazy rule! And so hard to remember. Basically it backs cars up one way instead of the other. I don’t get it. I have managed the blinker-windshield wiper switch. I no longer put my windshield wipers on when I want to turn left/right. I now look over my left shoulder instead of my right when backing up. But, this one might take a while to sink in.
4) How to wash my face and not scald my skin. Faucet mixers have not really caught on here, which is unfortunate as far as I am concerned. Every sink I go to has 2 faucets, a hot and a cold, spread far apart in the sink. This means that you can either have freezing cold water or scalding hot water. Now that its winter I want to wash my face with warm water but this is a challenge. I know I could fill the basin with a mixture but, after soaping up, I need clean water to wash it off. So, I have learned to turn both facets on, cup my hands, catch a little cold water (cold must be first otherwise hands get scalded), then quickly switch to the hot water and mix to an appropriate temp. Not too much hot water though because it quickly counteracts the presence of the cold water. It’s a delicate balance. Takes practice. I need more practice, or some tougher skin. Which ever comes first.
5) If someone tells you they work on the third floor, go to the fourth floor. For some reason the ground floor does not count as a floor. It’s floor zero. Does that mean it does not exist? Like it’s in purgatory? Somewhere between the first floor and the basement? Anyway, I always have to be careful when I hike up stairs, adding one flight of stairs to whatever floor I am supposed to be headed to.
6) How to say hello in Japanese: Kornichiwa! Ok, maybe I should have and could have known this one before, but I didn’t and this is really just an excuse to show a picture of my best effort to look like a geisha. My soccer club, Wellington United, had their mid-season function on Saturday night in the theme of the Beijing Olympics. Everyone came in teams and our team was Japan (who knows why). Todd dressed as a ninja and I posed as a geisha. All in all a pretty fun evening with lots of drinking, kiwi-style.
Finally, not a lesson but, I just have to throw in a few puppy pics. Look at the happy Mango! We had fun at the beach at Lyall Bay on Saturday morning.
P.S. Did you watch the EURO finals? VIVA ESPANA! Spain played beautiful soccer. Really, that is my definition of beautiful footie: perfect team passing. Such a great game, great tourney and the best team won. Plus Torres scored in the winning goal in the finals so that says something about my lineage. Right?