31 December 2006

New Zealand 3-day bike trip

Ever think 'This is a really bad idea. We shouldn't do this. There is still time to back out.'? Usually, I would do so. A voice in the back of my head this time (which was slightly mumbled and maybe British) said, 'Come on, it's an adventure. What's the worse that could happen?'. It was boxing day, a strange Kiwi holiday the day after chirstmas, and Matt Pro and I were suppose to leave the next day for a 3-day, 300-mile bike tour from Christchurch to Nelson (a beach town on the northside of the south island). The problem was, we had one road bike, one fixed gear (49x16, mind you) and a broken single-speed mountain bike. No racks. No panniers. Bonnie, one of Matt's friends I had met, was planning the trip, but we did not know the other two guys. Neither had bike toured, one didn't really ride bikes. Yeah. We managed to scrape together four panniers and a rack and Matt bought another rack. We decided to take the fixed instead of my broken bike.

(unfinished post!)

25 December 2006

New Zealand X-mas

Matt Pro has an adoptive family here in Christchurch that has taken him in. They are friends of a friend and they say you can't choose your family, but if he could of chose his adoptive family I don't think he could of done any better. He is there for all the holidays and tends to go over quite a bit just to chill out. Also goes for the Kiwi tradition of getting the barbi (BBQ) going, which seems to happen every day in the summer. The picture on the right is of 13-month old Tahunuiarangi, Dave (grandfather) and Josie(mom).
We spent x-mas eve chilling out and watching a lot of tv including Sione's Wedding and No 2 , both are choice and I'd recommend them, especially the former. Also watched Bro-town, a funny animated show from here in NZ about 5 kids growing up here in Morningside.

When we rolled up X-mas morning to go over to Pat's (grandmother) brother's place they had gifts not only for him, but for myself as well. Josie and her (american) husband regularly get chocolates for the family and they went out of their way to get Matt and I dark chocolate. There are these huge bars of Ghana chocolate that has been imported since 1896. Yum. They were happy that I had mine half-eaten before we even ate lunch.
For the x-mas meal they made us a huge plate of broiled vegetables that included pumpkin, potatoes and kumara. Kumara is sweet potato-esque, but much better. Not as sweet and has an entirely different texture than any potatoes I have eaten. Had some pasta and veggie sausages as well. I didn't cook anything, which was nice, but odd. In the picture below you can see x-mas crackers (not the people), which apparently is a tradition as well. Is this so for anyone else? I've never seen it. I also never had cranberry sauce with Thanksgiving, so what do I know? There are toys and jokes inside which made the meal a bit more lively than otherwise may of been.
Another sort of tradition, since it is summer here over x-mas, is the 'X-mas day water gun fight'. Matt and I stayed inside the best we could to the taunts that the americans are 'weak'. The others managed to soak each other pretty well.
The house we were at for x-mas is in what I considered a normal suburb, but Matt informed me that it is not a regular suburb, but a 'lifestyle bloc'. It is close enough to Christchurch that you can commute there for a regular job, but large enough that you can still have animals and maintain some of traditional rural Kiwi culture. Behind the house were some fenced off sheep (four of the 43 million on the two islands, more than 10 for every person) and some chickens in what I guess would be a coop. I've never seen a chicken coop, but I imagine a place where you keep chickens can be a chicken coop so that's what it is in my mind.

It just dawned on me that I spent Christ's birthday in a town called Christchurch. That is especially funny; this is the most secular country I have ever been in and well, I am obviously not religious. Apparently the city is named after one of the schools at Oxford one of the original settlers went to. Why don't they change it? The place is so non-religious that I don't think anyone cares. I am going to try to post some images of the city in a separate post. For now enjoy the sheep:

24 December 2006

23 December 2006

New Zealand Kepler Track

15 December 2006

New Zealand Christchurch