Sunday, February 20, 2011

Learning Kiwi

February 20, 2011
Coming to New Zealand, unlike Europe seemed so easy. We didn’t really know what to expect as far as food, customs and the people; but we knew that we would at least know their language – English. Whew! Well, it didn’t take us long to discover that when New Zealanders (known as Kiwis) speak; we don’t always understand. When our friend Sharon told us that she had 3 Beadrooms; I thought – Wow! She is really into crafts! We now know that a short “e” sound is often pronounced like a long “e”. So Beadroom = bedroom. When Stuart asked if we needed a Chilly Bin, we didn’t know what to say. (It’s a cooler.) At the golf course, did we need to rent a trundler? Should we be offended when a guy described Paul’s watch as ”flash”? While driving - what happens when you read the sign, “Merge Like A Zip” or “Watch for Road Slumps”? What’s easier than ordering a cup of coffee? Not here! Even the smallest diner has a huge list of choices none of which says “coffee”. Choose from flat white, short black, long black, latte, cappuccino, etc. Or would you prefer a “cuppa”? Ok, that’s getting confusing; let’s just order a burger. What kind would you like? A fish burger, chicken burger, egg & bacon burger? When we asked what a fish burger was, we were told you just cut the burger in half and put in the fillings you want. (That didn’t sound appetizing.) But later we found out that “burger” means “bun”! In the supermarket, we couldn’t find hamburger at all – it’s “mince”. You should have seen our faces when our hosts were talking about a party that they had attended. They said they got home, went to bed and just as he was turning off the light he realized, “Crykey Dick! We didn’t even have tea!” (Only later did we find out that “tea” means “supper”.)
NZ has been a pleasant surprise for us. We thought the country would be beautiful, but it has exceeded our expectations. The influence of “Mother England” is still strong; but the younger people seem to be thinking less as “colonials” and more as independent citizens. The Maori (native islanders) are fully involved in the government and have at least two bi-lingual channels on TV. We love the Kiwi customs like offering a small pitcher of milk “for your tea” to renters in every place we have been (hotels, B&Bs, apartments and rental homes); seeing Lawn Bowling Clubs in full white uniform (including safari hat, shirt, shorts, long socks and soft soled shoes); watching Black Caps cricket matches that go on for days (and break for tea); All Blacks rugby matches dominating the sport scene; finding that small grocery stores (called dairies) don’t carry mustard – and ketchup is known as tomato sauce; using an electric wall plug is a two-step process (first you need to flip a switch on the plate to get it to engage); discovering that many local golf courses are on the honor system for paying green fees (just put your money in a box) and to use rental clubs, get them out of the shower in the men’s bathroom. “Good on you” for not cheating the system. Be sure to leave everything the way you found it, no littering, please recycle. Live and let live. Paul’s even getting used to driving on the left side of the road. Brilliant!

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