Saturday, August 8, 2009

Ok, ready to get out of the city

July 28
I had to be on a bus at 9:30am that will take me to Matamata. After lugging my bulging suitcase and backpack through downtown Auckland, I made it to the bus stop at 9:15am. After some confusion and standing in line behind some sloooow people (literally, one lady ahead of me stood at the counter for one minute and then looked at them and said, "Oh I forgot what I was going to ask.") I found out that my bus had been cancelled. I called Job at Marvin Farm Services and he didn't know what to do because this has never happened in all the years he has done this. Great, count on me to be difficult. So the bus driver is waiting for me, the two ladies at the counter are trying to figure stuff out, ugh! Not a good experience.

So I decide to take the 1:00pm bus to Taupo. After paying NZ$10 to store my luggage, I had a few more hours in Auckland. I really wanted to get out of the city. Back to window shopping... so I headed to a bridal shop I saw yesterday. I tried on two dresses that I really liked, and they have shipped internationally before, so definitely a possibility. The lady who helped me was originally from Japan and we were discussing wedding traditions. Apparently it's customary in New Zealand and Japan to only have 2-3 couples in the wedding party. I told her some people have ten! It made me feel ok to only have my three sisters.

As I was leaving the bridal shop, there were all these Asian people standing in a really long line outside of the mini mall it was located in. I noticed a sign in crazy bright colors with Japanese cartoon characters that said, "Lunch Today $1." I didn't quite get what was going on, but it was bizarre.

Before getting on the bus, I also looked for a bar to get a quick drink and lunch. Bars don't open until 8pm here, so that was a no-go. I settled on McDonalds. When I was leaving the airport the day before, I saw a billboard for a kiwi burger with a fried egg on it (Corral Burger anyone? :-), so I decided to go with that. I saw it on the sign at McDonalds too, and there was a bright red thing on it.. humm.. So after ordering and inspecting, I realized that it was a pickled beet. Yeah.. it was.. um.. ok. I probably won't order that again.

I noticed as we were leaving Auckland it didn't take long to see farms and farmland. Lots of beef cattle though. Later, I learned the land south of Auckland isn't the best farmland, so there's a lot of beefers. It was pretty darn hilly. We drove past a cemetery that was on a very steep hill, and my morbid thoughts goes straight towords wondering which poor guy gets to dig those graves by hand. In fact, there was a funeral going on, and everyone parked on the road and walked up the terraced path to the graves. Well, I guess if someone dies from a heart attack climbing the steep hill, they don't have to go very far, haha.

We went passed some towns and I noticed right away that people aren't big into showing off- simple and small housing, tin roofs, small yards, clothes lines. Also, none of the farms I saw seemed to be suffering from "new paint disease" as an old coworker called it. Somewhat refreshing that no one seemed to be "keeping up with the Jones'" Or maybe everyone is that poor. Ha, either way, it was something I picked out right away. Also, I got the feeling that the only people who lived in the country was involved in farming to come capacity. I didn't see a signle home that wasn't surrounded by fenced off areas and livestock; either beef, dairy, horse, or sheep.

The bus stop building in Taupo was in the shape of a big sheepdog. Sorry no photo, Job's wife was waiting for me when I got there. We met briefly, and when we were getting into her car, I automatically went to the right side of the vehicle. I don't think she noticed me following her to her side to get in, but she seemed nice enough that if she did, it wasn't a big deal. She and her husband had been setting up these international workers for quite a few years, so they've meet people from all over the world. As long as you speak fluent English, they're willing to take you.

Anyway, it was only a 15 minute drive to Matamata, and the scenery was nice. The land was flat, with mountains (I'm sure they were only hills, but they looked like mountains to me!) in the background. There were a lot of Thoroughbred farms and parceled off land divided by wooden fences. We chatted a bit, and we discussed accents. She said from my accent, she would have thought I was Canadian. I thought that was hilarious, considering my farmer/ up nort accent I've acquired from my days visiting farmers north of Hwy 29. :-)

After meeting Job and getting a brief timeline of the next day, his wife dropped me off at the hotel. I walked around Matamata for a few hours before dusk. The stores closed at 5pm, so there wasn't a whole lot to do. The town is about the size of Shawano (7000 people) and it reminded me of it in many ways. I will admit that Matamata has a lot more charm than Shawano, but I kept comparing the different stores to ones in Shawano. I especially enjoyed the big window sign advertising colostrum replacer and milk replacer in the window of a farm equipment store (Ace Farm and Home? haha). Oh, and a lot of the stores were agricultural based. There were a lot of horse shops- saddle shops, general supplies, etc. I felt like I fit more in here for sure.

Since all the restaurants were close, dinner was a TV dinner bought at the "Countdown," a national chain grocery store. When I was in the meat section, right between the seafood and the beef were theses tubes of ground beef. But something struck me funny. The writting on them had phrases like "adult" and different weights on them. On closer inspection, it was dog food in tubes! Right next to the human food! Craziness. I laughed, imagining some person not paying attention and buying a tube of wet dog food for dinner.

I'm fast learning that building are heated by space heaters because when I returned to my room, it was freezing! Oh, and heated mattress pads. They're pretty much standard. I turned on the TV, and it was appreant that the two favorite sports in this country are rugby and cricket. I watched a cricet match brefily, which seemed like fast pased baseball, but had to turn it when I was laughing so hard at the phrase, "he's the country's best baller." Maybe I could learn to like this sport...

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