“Sweet As” is to New Zealand as “Wicked” is to Massachusetts. It’s a phrase that catches you off guard but is used everywhere. In actuality it catches us foreigners even more off guard, because add an extra “s” and we get a bit offended. But no worries mate, Kiwis are just trying to express a phrase that means “Great!”, “cool”, “yeah”, or “no problem.” As hilarious as we once thought it was, they are not trying to comment on one’s behind. Just another phrase I’m attempting to incorporate into my NZ vocabulary.
This week, I finally felt that busy bit of pressure everyone kept talking about before I arrived. I got rolling on a couple big projects that are always due “as soon as possible.” Additionally, another veteran engineer flew in from California who started teaching me about seismic assessments and how to do all these types of calculations using the New Zealand code system. Wednesday was a holiday but I ended up going into the office for a bit to get some things done, and I was in the office on Saturday for a short stint as well. All sounds good to me, the faster we can get the work done, the faster these businesses and families might be back to normal (and the faster I can pay off my loans, positives for everyone!). In reality I got a bit of a scolding on Friday, by a priest of all persons. At a brief site visit, he came out to see what we were doing and began venting about how we were the 20th engineers he’s seen look at his building over the past year and asked where his insurance money was. Unfortunately, this is the case all over Christchurch, all we can do is be sympathetic and do our job. I have no clue about who gets paid when and how much. I hope everything will work out okay in the end, but this seems to be a long road to agreed settlements for every person in Christchurch.
Speaking of Christchurch, after work on Saturday I headed down to Cashel Street which has literally transformed into a shopping center since the CBD has been closed down. Several businesses that were closed due to the red zoned section of CBD, got a temporary container and are now setting up shop directly next to the red zone. These containers resemble large trailers you would find on the back of a truck, but are outfitted with windows, paint, and are overall really nice looking.
I grabbed a delicious ice cream and headed over to the red zone “pedestrian viewing” area which definitely holds a cloud of somberness over it. As I walked to the fence I realized getting ice cream was a bad idea, I looked like a happy teenager who was waltzing through Disney World, not an adult come to look at devastation. There were several areas of fence with flowers, poems, well-wishes, & a few angry statements.
I walked further down the sidewalk before getting to another fence and checking the year-long unused sidewalk beyond.
As for other weekend activities, I organized a movie outing to see The Avengers. Yes, we got to see it a whole week before it comes out in the States! I can be excited about this because 99% of the time the U.S. has movies far before they ever reach NZ. I had to call ahead and reserve our seats–in New Zealand and Australia you have to pick your seats ahead of time like going to a musical or concert. Tickets were also pricey (~US$14), but the theater was VERY nice. Most comfortable movie theater I’ve ever sat in.
This past Sunday was relaxing after our fast-paced and epic glacier hike last weekend. I went for a run. Got asked by a tourist what species of tree was in Hagley Park.
This is typically my exciting moment of truth–short-term living in a foreign place and finally getting asked a question by a tourist/local. It means I haven’t completely stuck out as a goofy American. Unfortunately the second I open my mouth to expose my psuedo-Massachusetts accent that all changes, but at least I can look the part. Onto the question…I typically find the moment of truth when someone asks me for directions. BONUS POINTS if I know the answer. But a species of tree?! No joke, the couple was staring intensely at this tree. I stopped to stretch and the woman came over and casually asked me what kind of tree that was & what kind of fruit it produced. Well apparently I not only look the New Zealand part, I also appear like I would know some intelligent facts about trees. I guess I’m okay with that.
After cleaning up and trying to look somewhat presentable for my working visa photo shoot, I headed over to another different cafe for Sunday breakfast. Coffee could seriously take up an entire post while I’m here. It is so fabulous. Proof–
Starbucks will seriously never be the same. I actually did breakdown and go to the Starbucks here ONCE, and even that was better than any Starbucks I’ve had back home. I will be excited to get back to drip coffee; however, this is more than great for now.
In the afternoon I headed out of the city to pick up some local wine from a vineyard (wine–another drink that will never be the same back in the states), went grocery shopping, and cooked a fabulous salmon steak on rice. Not too shabby for a girl who can’t cook and only has 2 hot plates and a microwave to work with.
This may have been my most rambling post here yet, I’ll attempt for a more consistent one for this upcoming weekends adventures!