No, I’ve not fallen into the fires of Mt. Doom… just internet Mt. Doom. The motel I’m staying in has only dial-up access which means I basically don’t use it. Going into the office (where I am now) is one solution, but I’m trying to stay away and have some semblance of a break before work starts up next week. I have been keeping some notes each day though, and will post them back-dated now that I have a high speed connection.
Consolidated update: lots of errands, things going well.
So I bought a ’94 Nissan Bluebird. It’s a larger car (think Honda Accord) than I was orginally looking for, but the kms are low and it drives well. NZ doesn’t really have the equivalent of edmunds.com publicly available so it was difficult to know what a good price for anything was. I probably didn’t get a good price, but if the car turns out to be as reliable as the web reports say, I’ll be satisfied.
I’ve never seen a Bluebird (stupid name, BTW) in the US, though it was mentioned on Wikipedia that the Nissan Stanza and Altima were North American versions. The name itself has been around since 1957 under the Datsun brand, and one incarnation was actually the Datsun 510, which so happened to be the first car I drove! I don’t have a current photo of the Bluebird, but this stock image of a ’91 is pretty close.
More appliance and car shopping. I took advantage of the dealers being closed today to look and my leisure without the buzz of salesmen circling. The market here for used Japanese cars is pretty good. These are used cars exported to NZ when the registration costs in Japan become excessive. They’re in much better condition than comparably aged cars in the US, IMHO. I’m closing in on a Nissan and would like to wrap it up this week if at all possible.
NZ TV 1 had on an export-ready concert featuring Haley Westenra (the popular singing phenom from Christchurch), Maori guys standing around the stage, video of NZ vistas and a “Lord of the Rings” backing soundtrack! I bet the DVD comes with Air New Zealand vouchers.
I was well taken care of this Christmas Day. The morning was spent having a delicious breakfast with the Daniell family and a few friends. During the late afternoon I visited Paul E’s pad in South Brighton for beers and lounging in the sun. All of the guests there were pretty well spent from their morning of mountain biking, which included one torn AC joint and a trip to the hospital. Every time I come down here someone’s arm is in a biking-induced sling!
Is Xmas weird without could and snow? A little. But add back in all of the TV shows, mall decorations and music and it’s not that different. They’ve just replaced chestnuts and open fires with beach towels and BBQs. Everyone appears to be in a good mood and enjoying the break, which is probably the most important thing.
I bought a used washer and dryer (both were Fisher and Paykel, the NZ brand) from a guy who must have had 100 of the things accenting his back yard. I was shown how the lights blink, beepers beep and the things go round and round, but who knows if they actually do the job. I just couldn’t see paying for new here on something like laundry.
Car shopping has begun and I wish it would end already. The Used Car Salesman persona is as irritating here as in the US (and probably the rest of the world). When I ask if there is rust, I’d prefer something more than, “Of course not, see, cars don’t rust in New Zealand.” Yep. To prove his point he showed me four freshly painted bolts that would have been rusted if the phenomenon were present here. It wasn’t even worth me pointing out the 3 rusty bolts less than 2 feet away. It’s tedious wandering the yards; searching on the internet is a good filter.
I’ve got the keys to the house now. Everything looks as good as I remembered it and I can’t wait to move in. That’s going to be sometime next week at the earliest since I had no luck getting ahold of the moving people. New Zealand will enter a mode of reduced hours tomorrow, near shutdown on xmas, and then varied availability on Boxing Day and the following Tuesday. A great break for the Kiwis, but kinda crappy for me and getting things set up.
NZ different: (some) people walking barefoot in stores.
Almost everything arrived in Christchurch in reasonably good shape, including me. One piece of luggage didn’t fare very well, but it was of the nearly disposable variety (5 pieces for $79) and at least it stayed shut. No problems claiming baggage or the car, and I was greeted with a beautiful warm day to boot!
The motel is clean and functional, but having just left a hotel I’m not thrilled about more temporary housing. I’m basically stuck here until the essential supplies show up in the air shipment.
I closed out the evening at xmas party hosted by Mark Nichols, the CTCT general manager. It was nice seeing everyone again, but being a bit jet dazed made it hard to mingle with 50 people.
I now have a cell phone that works here.
The flight out of Dallas was very late. Along the way I was lamenting to the guy next to me that I’d be lucky to make my flight and he decided to help. Just before we landed, he stood up and yelled, "This man next to me needs to catch a flight to New Zealand and needs your help. When we land, he’s going to take all of his stuff and run to the front of the plane. Please make way." Aside from causing me to curl into a little ball and turn beet red, it was somewhat effective and probably saved me have a plane’s length worth of people jam. I had to sprint to the international terminal but did make the flight. The amazing part was that my checked bags actually made it.
I’m now sitting in Auckland with a few minutes to spare before my flight to Christchurch. So far, so good!
The PIA to Dallas flight was great, now I’m delayed for an hour getting to LAX. So much for my rule of thumb! This shouldn’t be a problem yet, but if they start extending it more it could be tight. Getting around LAX can take a while and I’d prefer a full two hours.
The timer at this kiosk is running low… this is all $1 buys!