Somewhere out beyond the clouds I know the sun is preparing to make its grand entrance into summer here. But alas, it has only cast it’s wonderous heating rays on us for a few hours since my arrival four days ago. Such is the nature of summer in New Zealand – the cold weather moves out leaving room for everything else to move in. But I’m not disappointed. The rest from work has been most welcome. My hands are still swollen. My arm is still in pain. And I’m still coping with the side-effects of my twisted ankle. Rest is nice. It just better not last too long.
It’s been great to see everyone. Emily and James hosted a barbecue for their first wedding anniversary on Saturday. There was tons of food and fireworks and most everyone from work showed up – including their families. Mild bits of drama occurred as is always when you incorporate alcohol and the running out of alcohol into a night. But it was still quite wonderful. It was obvious that summer months are not wasted on Kiwis. As soon as good weather starts to peak around the corner, they seize it and turn the day into a festivity of sorts. I like that about here. I’m gonna enjoy that about here.
I walked home from work the day I got here. Nothing has changed. There’s still the same broken down front yards along the way – overgrown bushes and rusted out machinery someone thought they would one day get around to fixing. The yards are all fenced in – either with picket-style or stone work. Vegetation growing out the cracks and crumbled stones lying at the base. Mailboxes are by the front gate – obviously to ease the delivery of post for the postman. The “no circluars” signs ripped in half or peeling. Most roofs are corrugated metal – which make an echoing tinny noise when it rains and reminds me of barns and shacks back home. There are few two-storey homes and I’m not quite sure why. The bungalow seems to be the way here as Motueka houses spread out much like the houses in California – in front and beside and where ever there is room. Only here everyone has a yard. Most people have a garden. And the trees. I love trees. There are so many different kinds. In our yard lemons lay spoiling on the ground beneath the lemon tree. And then there’s the apple and feijoa tree, yet to come ripe. Apple orchards, kiwi orchards, vineyards and hops are scattered throughout the region creating a checkerboard of colours from the sky. This region is called the sunshine capital of New Zealand. I’m debating that label.
The cost of living here seems to be higher than last time. While my roommate is charging me $100NZD/week for rent, food is grossly incomparable to prices back home. For example, flavoured coffee creamer is $8 a bottle. I opted for milk. As long as I shop carefully, I can save myself some expenses, but I will have to sacrifice some of the things I usually afford myself. I have bought cup-of-soup – the first time in ages. Whole wheat spaghetti was four times as much as regular white spaghetti. And while there may be 30 million sheep in this country, I am informed New Zealand lamb is cheaper in England than here. Looks like that diet I’ve been thinking of starting may actually become a necessity or at least a strategy.
Standing in the kitchen the other day talking to my roommate I suddenly felt like I had never left. Like the past two years were a dream I had meticulously crafted. Like I had unzipped the fabric of space-time and somehow slipped through a twisted wormhole to wind up back in Motueka. It made us both laugh. He joked that nothing had really changed. I told him I noticed. We grabbed a beer out of the fridge and went and sat at the table in the backyard soaking in the few bits of sunlight creeping through the clouds. My face turned toward the sky, eyes shut, beer in hand, home a million miles away, and good people all around me, I suddenly realized that whilst nothing here had really changed – I have changed. And more than ever – that’s a good thing.