(written by Travis)
We haven’t written much lately because we’ve been a little busy. Okay, admittedly, a lot of this month we’ve been busy playing Borderlands. The reason we’ve been playing Borderlands is because I got a new laptop that’s capable of playing video games that were made after 1998. The computer industry in New Zealand is one of its weak points. Since New Zealand is a semi-remote island, it imports most of its computer equipment. That means you have to pay a slightly higher price than say someone living in Silicon Valley. In addition to that, the government requires you to pay a tax on any electronic equipment that is mailed to you from out of the country. So if your mother mails you a fancy camera, you have to pay %10 tax on it…unless you’re lucky and the mailman misses it. The point is that computers are shamefully expensive in New Zealand, especially desktops, which are more expensive to ship into the country because of their size and weight. This also means there isn’t a very good selection, but if you want to order a computer from an American website you get screwed on the exchange rate, have to pay a mint on shipping and wait for weeks for it to be sent if they take your credit card at all. I gave up on Amazon. Lucky for me though, one of the 3 computer chains in New Zealand opened up a new store near my house this month, and I got a fairly good deal on a laptop (by New Zealand standards).
The next shopping spree we went on was kind of surreal. We we went to Martha’s Backyard, which is a store that caters in American goods that you can’t normally find in New Zealand like Root Beer, Jolly Ranchers, giant jars of pickles…and the two things I’ve missed the most—->
They have deodorant in New Zealand, but it’s all roll on gel that feels like gooey sweat.
While we were out spending $8 on steak sauce and deodorant we decided to trade in our go-cart for a better model. So we picked up a Holden. Though not available in America for some reason, Holdens are made by Chevy. This particular model was a European design, which means that even though the steering wheel is on the right hand side of the car the blinkers are on the left hand side of the steering wheel, like on American cars. For the past 5 months we’ve been driving a car designed to New Zealand standards which has the blinkers on the right hand side of the steering wheel. So now we’re having to get used to the American style blinkers again, and we’re not doing very well. More often than not we end up signaling our intent to turn by turning on our windshield wipers. Good thing New Zealand doesn’t have as many cops as America.
The drama class at Amber’s school recently put on a play that reinterpreted the fall of Troy and the roll the Gods played in its demise. Since the school sells booze in the teacher’s lounge we showed up early and honored Bacchus. Now, I’ve spoken to a few Kiwis after having watched the play, and they all assure me this isn’t typical. This is a direct quote from the synopsis on the back of the playbill handed out to everyone who went to see this high school play, “…Poseiden called Zeus a dickhead, and Zeus didn’t like that.” So that was funny.
It’s 105 degrees in Texas right now, but the thermostat here is stuck below 60 degrees…or rather, 16 degrees. I’ve now put a Celsius weather widget on my computer desktop to help me get used to telling the temperature in Celsius. But anyway, we enjoyed the Miranda hot pools last month so much we decided to beat the cold this month by checking out the Waiwera hot pools. At $25 per person it was a bit steep to enter, but after soaking my poor back in the thermal sulfur water pools for 5 hours I was glad I paid the price. In fact, Waiwera was definitely better than Miranda. Waiwera had massages and even teeth whitening (at additional cost). It had several pools of varying temperatures, and one pool had a projector screen so you could watch movies while taking in the therapeutic waters. Probably the coolest part was the water slides though. First of all, there weren’t any lifeguards monitoring the slides. There was just a sign that said, “Use at your own risk.” I love that. I think that teaches children a valuable life lesson. If you screw up, you get hurt. Learn it quick. And man, could you get hurt on these things. The water pressure, angle of the slides and slickness of the surface made for a violently fast combination. You actually picked up G-force going around the curves of one of the slides. It almost hurt. It was awesome. I do have to say that while their restaurant’s fish and chips were recommendable, they failed at hot dogs. I wish I had a picture of this. They had a foot long sausage in a Subway sandwich loaf of bread with grated cheese on top and a sign in front of it that said, “American Hot Dog.” FAIL.