Monday, February 05, 2007

Hits, Allegations, and Things Left Unsaid



After almost missing my plane in Prague because of complications from British Airways’ on-again-off-again “industrial action (strike),” I was off. Two days later, I was on the ground in another hemisphere, out of winter and into summer. My short time in Auckland began with my friend Phil picking me up at the airport as I struggled to stay awake.

On Friday I wandered through downtown Auckland. For the first time in about 5 months, I could read billboards and advertisements; a novelty which quickly ended. It was like I’d flown back to the United States. In some ways the familiarity was nice; in others, strange.

Later that evening, we went north toward the beaches. We met a few of Phil’s friends who were camping for the weekend, and joined them drinking on the beach, playing guitar, and generally enjoying the wonderful weather.

WellingtonOn Saturday morning a few guys came through camp looking for an 11th for their cricket team. Not knowing that I was potentially committing myself for the remainder of the day, I volunteered to play. It’s an interesting game, and while I don’t know all the rules, I had a good time. I scored 5 runs without really knowing it, and our team got worked. Phil arrived once we were in the field and rescued me from what may have been a long, slow afternoon in the sun. Instead, we went to the beach and body surfed.

On the way home, we stopped along the western coast to see the black sand beaches and play bocce ball. After Thai food in Auckland, we quickly fell asleep back home.

On Sunday morning, we left early for the airport. About 5 minutes from Phil’s house, we stopped at a red light near a blind curve. When our light turned green, we began to pull into the intersection, only to see a car coming quickly from our right. I remember yelling, “Phil!” and then smelling gunpowder as we rolled through the intersection, quickly slowing to a stop. We’d been hit, almost head on, by a drunk driver doing about 60 – 70 km/hr. Our airbags deployed and our seatbelts kept us from being seriously hurt. We called the police as the other driver – nearly unable to speak (very intoxicated) – began to walk away. When the police arrived almost an hour later, the other driver was gone. His car was still blocking the intersection, and he was MIA. Phil’s car was totaled and I’d missed my flight, but we were okay. After the tow truck, ambulance, and Phil’s father arrived, we left for the airport. I hopped a later flight and scrambled to catch a cab to the ferry terminal in Wellington, making my boat by 5 minutes…

North Island beach, black sandI arrived in Blenheim and made a few phone calls. My boss picked me up and took me to the house where I’ll be living for the next 4 months. This was a bit of a change from what I’d been told – that we would be staying in a hostel. However, this is a very positive change. We’re paying $40 less per month, and there’re only three of us sharing a nice house in town. I live with a guy from South Africa and another from Mexico. We’ve still got rides to and from work, and we’re close to a large farm park on the southern edge of town.

Auckland HarborI begin work tomorrow (Wednesday). After the accident, My boss suggested I take Monday away from work, and today (Tuesday) is Waitangi Day, celebrating the day the Maori people signed a land treaty with the British, and officially became New Zealand (I think that’s what it’s about, anyway). Most businesses are closed today and there’s no need for us at the winery; the harvest has not begun.

The town is small (pop. 20,000?), but has a few bars and restaurants. We’re about 15 km from Cook Straight, which separates the north and south islands. To the north and south, there are mountains. The northern ones are lush and green – coastal. The southern ones are drier and remind me of the front range of Colorado – brown with lots of grasses, and trees in the deeper draws. The weather is great, too. It’s been sunny the past few days with highs in the low 80s; I could get used to this…

Need an explanation?


Anonymous said...

Been awhile since I checked your blog, sounds like you're still having an amazing adventure and I'm not just a little jealous. I've been on a psych rotation for the last 6 weeks, it's actually been very interesting talking to crazies every day (note, we try not to call them crazies where they can hear us). In two weeks, I'm going to phoenix for a month away from omaha, I can't wait! It's been fucking cold here, many mornings when I go to work it was in the negative teens with wind chill. Hope your experience in NZ goes a little better than than the one in France, take care!

Amanda said...

You inspired me to make a blog over here.
if you want to check it out.