Wednesday, June 28, 2006

We are those people...Foreigners

It just hit me, we are the foreigners. In Costa Rica we were SOOO foreign that it wasn't worth mentioning. But, here in New Zealand we speak the language and go to work like everybody else (vs. stay at home with our computers, aahhh those were the days). Last night we were sitting at a table with an Australian, a Kiwi, and two Irish people. We were the token "Americans", or foreigners...

But in the eyes of others maybe I always was a foreigner, even in the states. I always felt like yes, I have darker skin and hair, but I never really felt foreign or foreign looking.

But, people here in NZ (pronounced nzed) can't place my background when they talk or look at me. You can see the questioning in their faces.

First off, is she Canadian or American? They always ask "are you Canadian?" They say Canadian, because the don't want to offend Canadians. Canadians get royally offended when mistaken for Americans. It's kind of like mistaking a New Zealander for an Aussie. It's all about the little brother complex. American and Aussies could care less, but Canadians and Kiwis get mad.

After they establish American they really don't know where to go after that. 'She's dark, not quite white'... they are thinking. They fall back to Native American Indian. You know just like in the western movies. I really must cut my hair a little shorter before I really take on the Sacagawea look. I'm too dark to be white, obviously not black, but no other ethnicity is on their radar screen. They are unaware of how Latino the US has become.

Exactly as unaware, for me, of how Asian New Zealand has become. New Zealand has opened it's borders, so to speak, and a lot of Asians have immigrated here (there are also a lot of South Africans). There has been so many immigrants so quickly that some kiwis are slower of acceptance as others. Racism is a strong word that I don't like to use. It's more like the melting of two very different cultures; western and asian. You know somebody is commenting on this tension when they say "I'm not racist, but [insert Asian sterotype]..." This saying is very common.

So, these are the funny encounters I have had. I've realized that I must look more hispanic than I think I do. I was in a store and a clerk came up to me and said "Are you hispanic?" This really threw me for a loop and got me thinking about this subject. She happened to be from Ecuador and we had a great conversation in Spanish. She picked me out in a crowd instantly.

As Gene would say, 'your people', recognize you. Now there's a funny story!! When I first met Adam's dad on Thanksgiving he asked me what 'my people' call a griddle. I swear his spanish was probably better then mine at the time. This is now a family joke on Gene. "What do you people call this?" It's the modern American Thanksgiving story.

FYI: I'm 1/4 Mexican, 1/4 Italian, and 1/2 Gringa. That makes me the American melting pot representin' in New Zealand.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

My White Collar Injury

Well today was my second day on the job and I got a paper cut! Ouch! I forgot how much those hurt. Don't laugh! It HAS been a year or so since I've been in an office. What a nerdy bunch transportation workers are. I'm in good company. Basically all I've been doing all day is reading documents to figure out the framework that Transit New Zealand operates under. I think it is like Oregon about 15 years ago, maybe 20.

My commute door to door is about 25 minutes. There is a bus that goes by about once every 8-10 minutes. If I'm super lazy I can have Adam drive me up to the bus stop on his way to his office. This is surely going to become a boring blog with us going to work everyday.

But there are some other interesting things:

-There are Ke-Babs places everywhere. We, Americans, know them as Shish-Kabobs. But here you say it Ke-BAAB. Say the bab like you would say babble.

-The Subway sandwhich shop has a vegetarian 'garden burger' but it is made out of chickpeas in a spicy Indian style.

-The radio disc jockeys cuss on the radio and it's the funniest thing ever. "Don't be an asshole, get your tickets NOW!". The US should really deregulate the radio, it's so boring compared to this, plus the music they play is way better (even in Costa Rica it was better).

-People use and it sucks for buying things and it sucks. People should use craigslist

-Driving is still weird for Adam, I'm fine with it now.

Well that's it for now. Not quite as crazy as Costa Rica.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

We haven't been drinking enough

Usually when we have a big move or major change we drink, alot. When I returned to Portland after graduate school gin and tonics were my friend (as well as Dungeon Siege). When we bought a house - ditto. When we moved to Costa Rica it was rum and fruit blender drinks. When we stayed in Portland temporarily we drank a lot of good Portland beers.

I'm not sure why alcohol hasn't been a part of this move. It needs to be. It's been a little stressful. Moving to a new country and having to create a whole new household from scratch. We still don't have a couch and we don't have any heat worth mentioning. You can see your breath in our house in the mornings. Definitly colder than to Costa Rica. Although the tile and towel warmers are nice. We have a fireplace and we are waiting to get the insurance worked out.

Blah Blah Blah

If we drank more we wouldn't have the energy to be snappy with each other. This is what we have concluded.

So we have vowed to start drinking more. Australian red wines and New Zealand white wines are our friends! Beer here is pretty crappy and I've done enough damage to my liver to go easy on the hard alcohol.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Restaurants in Auckland

I have been humbled in the past few weeks about something that I could never have expected. Being from Portland for some reason I thought that it was the epicenter of good quality restaurants. I might have been wrong.

Roberta and I have eaten out probably 18 times since we showed up here. Not one of those meals I would consider even slightly below standards. Everything from the fancy restaurants in foofy neighborhoods to the little cafe next to my office have had wonderful food. No matter how much you pay for a meal it has always been good. For example, spending about $5 NZ (~2.75 US) for lunch at the cafe is filling and very tasty. Vegetarian meals are a side though but still well done.

French toast here is not like it is in the states. It comes as a stack of regular french toast alternated with bananas cut lengthwise in half and baked in their skin and thick slabs of bacon. So you get this towering breakfast of champions.

Mmmm... I just got hungry writing this post.

On a non-food related note. I was worried about how bad the drivers were going to be based on what everyone on the message boards was saying. I told people that I survived a year of driving in Costa Rica and they said that was nothing. Well I must say that they are wrong. I have found the drivers here to be very courteous and kind. They always slow down to let you merge onto the motorway and we haven't seen road rage since we actually learned how to drive on the right(left) side of the road. It seems to be about the same as Portland for drivers. The traffic here is a whole other thing though. Imagine Portland without mass transportation and that is Auckland. There are way too many cars here.

More pictures to come soon.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Quick update - Car, House, Job, Pictures

I have had a fair number of requests for pictures so here we go. We are really getting settled and have purchased a car and are just finalizing the details on a house. Roberta also got a job today with Transit New Zealand. She actually had job offers from two different companies but picked TNZ for a number of reasons. You go girl.

Driving here for the first couple tries was fairly difficult. Completely overwhelming. After a couple weeks of it now it isn't a problem. I don't even think about it any more. Although last weekend we were driving though the country and after about 400 meters I noticed that I was on the wrong side of the road. Ooopppsss....

Here are a bunch of pictures from the past week:

Click here for pictures