Life has seemed to carry on in a normal routine. We havn’t posted much lately. Having gone through (hopefully past tense) our first rainy, dark winter we celebrated spring day today.
Simon’s cousin visited us last night on his way to Sri Lanka (made his stop over in Auckland an over night stop off instead of just catching a connecting flight). He had an early flight this morning and so we thought we would make hay while the sun shines and enjoy the warmest morning in quite a while.
I think that one of the most exciting parts of moving to a new country is discovering all the new places to see and go.
Just about on a daily basis we have someone chatting to us saying “Have you been to… yet?”
This time round we explored Muriwai Beach and a small part of Devonport. We live on an island, so seeing the ocean is a pretty common occurrence. However, the ocean close to us is flat. No waves at all. So seeing waves, hearing the waves and smelling the sea is pretty uncommon. Its only when you don’t have the sight, sound and smell that the waves make that you realize how important they are to that beachy feel.
Thanks for reading and sharing our adventures with us.
There are some days that should rather just not happen. This sounds rather dramatic- I know, but really, I should have just stayed in bed.
Getting to school, on some occasions, has been a fun experience. My second day at my new job was particularly one for the books. At that stage we had one car to share between Simon and I. It wasn’t even our car, it was a friend’s car affectionately called “Blue.” Back to my story- day two of work. We were early on day one, and I made Simon wait in the car with me until it was an appropriate time to go into the building. You know, not too early, but not late. So day two arrived and we decided to leave ten minutes later. What a bad idea! We got stuck in traffic. Simon and I looked at the GPS and I was going to be late for work.
I never had anyones number. I couldn’t get in touch with anyone. Even if I could get in touch with someone, what would I say? “Hi sorry, it’s Genna, the new girl. I know it’s only my second day of work, but I’m going to be late.” Yeah, that wasn’t really an option. So we looked at each other and the GPS said that it was going to take us twenty minutes to drive the remaining two kilometres. We weren’t too confident in this ETA. We hadn’t moved in twelve minutes.
Two kilometres- I can do that. The GPS says that the road is mainly flat. I got out of the car in the middle of traffic and I walked.
As I got further away from Simon, who was still stuck in the traffic, someone hooted at me. It was a teacher from the school and I waved and said that we were stuck in traffic and I was going to walk. She smiled and waved. I looked down at my GPS and realised the road I was walking on was called “Hill Road.” I can tell you that it was called Hill road for a jolly good reason. A couple of hundred metres down the road, I sent Simon a voice note saying how I regretted the decision to get out and walk.
I carried on walking, after all I wasn’t going to turn around and climb back into Blue and admit defeat. Besides, if I didn’t carry on at a decent pace I was going to be late. The GPS said I was two hundred metres away from school, and my friendly college who hooted at me earlier drove past me. It turns out that if I had been patient I could have made it to school in Blue and not be all sweaty and out of breath.
Fast forward to day fourteen of school. It was our first rainy day. I was now on the school whatsapp group and was warned about the traffic before I left. Simon and I now each have our own cars, and so getting out and walking was not an option. I was going to outsmart the traffic on the usual route and follow the GPS on a different route to school. I climbed in my car and was quite chuffed with myself.
Simon checked before I left the house and it said that I was going to drive over the motorway and not on the motorway. However the GPS instructed me to turn left and I landed on a motorway. I thought that traffic must have backed up on the road it had originally chosen for me and I was now on a new route to school. A kilometre and a half later I exited the motorway and was fairly confident I knew the area I was driving in. A few minutes down the road I was instructed to turn left. I turned left.
I was on a motorway again. A kilometre and a half later I exited the motorway. Strange. I could have sworn that the exit that I took the second time around was called the same exit as the previous one. I carried on, and things seemed familiar.
A few minutes down the road I was instructed to turn left. I turned left and I was on the motorway. Yup! The very same motorway where one and a half kilometres later I would take the exit again and would be instructed to turn left. I was convinced that I would outsmart the GPS and somehow magically not land up on the same motorway. I carried on driving. By now the traffic was pretty rough and before I knew it I had no other option to turn left and land up on the very same motorway.
I called Simon in a nervous giggle saying that I was lost. I was stuck in a loop and couldn’t get out. He had fortunately been stuck in the same loop a couple of days prior and told me to avoid the slipway going left and make a left turn rather. In the rain, with traffic getting worse and with the possibility of being even later than I already was I had no other option but to giggle and avoid turning left at all costs. I looked at the GPS and to avoid the possibility of going left I took a different road altogether.
That was just the start of day fourteen. It ended with me burning the supper. Like I said, I probably should have just stayed in bed. Here’s hoping that day fifteen is a success.
So, as I mentioned before I have felt
quite strange and foreign in this new country. Certain little things have made
us look at each other and we either go “Okay, now that was really odd,” or they
make us laugh at just how similar yet different this country is. They aren’t
necessarily serious things, they are just little things that would normally go
unnoticed, but when you’re experiencing the new things for the first time, even
the little things seem big.
In South Africa any formal document is
written and signed in black pen. This is a non-negotiable. In fact, I’m pretty
sure that if you filled out a form in home affairs or any other government
building using a pen other than black, it would definitely not be accepted.
However, we noticed when getting our drivers licenses that the pens at the desk
were blue. We then went to the bank to open our bank account, and the banker
was using a blue pen. Yup, the colour of choice in New Zealand seems to be
As a pedestrian in South Africa when you approach
a zebra crossing and stop. You would do the right thing and look left and right
and left again before crossing the road. If a car was approaching you wouldn’t dare
walk because what happens if they hadn’t seen you? Or worse, what would happen
if they had seen you and they decide that their rush is more important and they
are going to continue driving and ignore that you are standing at a zebra
crossing. This is not the case in New Zealand. You approach the crossing, and
walk. Not looking right and left and right again… you just cross.
I’m convinced that a man named Sam is the most important person in New Zealand, and by Sam I mean Safety Sam! He is everywhere. They are so safety conscious that I would go as far as to say that it is ridiculous and over the top. Simon has briefly considered going into business to make traffic cones. The Kiwi’s use at least 3 times more cones than the South Africans do. Sometimes when driving in SA you aren’t too sure if they cones have come to an end or if they have just put them out a bit too far from each other- you often just carry on driving in your current lane to make sure there are no more coming further up. The Kiwi’s however, make sure that the cones are so close to each other that they touch each other, no matter how long the stretch of road is that they are marking off.
Safety Sam also rears his head on the school playground. As a teacher on duty I have to wear a safety vest and wear a bag around my body with first aid equipment in, and pictures of each child that goes into anaphylactic shock should they come into contact with various things. Look, I get it. I get the bag, that’s pretty cool, but the safety vest! I feel like a traffic cone!
That’s all from me tonight. I’m sure there
will be plenty more things that I will share with you along the way.
The past month or so has been solely focused on the
move. We were trying to sell furniture,
a house and cars. We were really blessed that the cars went relatively quickly
(thanks to family), that the majority of our furniture was sold (we gave the
remainder away) and that we had a prospective buyer for our house.
I got a job in New Zealand rather quickly and gave my notice
in at school. Simon worked for a family business and gave in his notice and
they worked out how they were going to run the business without him. We had
most things planned and things worked out without a hitch.
After some horrible (really terrible) goodbyes at the
airport we hopped on a plane and off we flew. We were certain about our
decision and were certain that we were good to go. Until…
About 19 hours into our journey I looked at Simon and went
“Okay, we’re on the plane. This is as far as I had planned and prepared
for. Now what?” We found that all that we had thought of was getting to
the plane and that we were totally unprepared for anything further than the
The next few days were spent discovering just how unprepared I was for this adventure. Sure, I know that things in SA were settled and that we were good to go, but I had no clue just how strange and foreign I would feel in a country that I was supposed to call home.