Sunday, October 29, 2006
Auckland, New Zealand
Auckland, oh Auckland. My first and newest home. You are lovely and true.
May I please share a few of my thoughts on Auckland with you?
Auckland is very much like home in the States. It's a Westernized, civilized, busy, urban city where everyone is white (or brown - think Asian or Maori) and speaks English. Having said that, it doesn't feel that far away from home. Instead of half-way across the world, I feel like you're all up the street. In fact, it's a nice feeling to know that you're all just a block away. Except replace the word block with e-mail.
The same sun shines on me that shines on you. The clouds above my head are full of the same rain that once fell on you. And we're looking at the same moon each night. It's not so far away.
In many ways it's like being at home, except driving on the left side of the road. And not wearing shoes. And the fact that Aucklanders don't differentiate between Canadians and Americans is of course, offensive.
Some days I feel like Tera when she was in Iowa, as I have yet to see more than 6 black people during my time so far. Now, I know that I shouldn't say 'black person', as it isn't very PC, but I can't very well call them African-Americans now, can I?
There's lots of malls and lots of people and lots of McDonalds and lots of Burger Kings. Heaps and heaps of all that stuff, just like home. Around every corner is a coffee shop, which I love, as the coffee shops are much more gourmet than home. Yummy pastries and sandwiches around every turn. Which is why you haven't actually seen a picture of me yet - too fat.
It rains ALL THE TIME. You know, the whole tropical environment and all. It didn't rain for the first 26 days I was here. Then, the skies opened up and down came 26 days worth of rain. So when I say it rains all the time, I meant recently, when it rained for two straight days with no breaks, and then proceeded to rain the next two days every hour on the hour. It makes hoofing it (which one does without a car) difficult.
In the part of Auckland I live in, it's very posh. People that patronize SPQR are very rich and snobby. Or gay. And well dressed. Which go hand in hand.
Sometimes my co-workers like to pretend they know how to sing MY National Anthem to me, and I say, "Guys, you've got it all wrong. It goes like this, 'Oh, Canada. My home and native land...'"
Evidently Auckland, as I was immediately informed (by non-Aucklanders) upon my layover in Tahiti, is not like anywhere else in New Zealand. It's very American feeling (but don't tell them that). In fact, all non-Aucklanders refer to Aucklanders as 'Jafas', or 'Just Another F***ing Aucklander.' But of course, people in Auckland think that everyone else in New Zealand must have a jealousy complex. Which is exactly what typifies the 'Jafa' persona.
If I had ever been to Tokyo, I would think that Central Auckland, in the Central Business District, is like that. It's full of underground shops, overhead signs, flashing lights, big buildings, and heaps and heaps of Asians (though I'll be darned that I haven't found a single place to get my nails done or eyebrows waxed, which I find HIGHLY ironic). One day I asked a (white) gentleman for the time. He proceeded to have a 5 minute discussion with me, which ended in him telling me that when I traveled to the southern part of the country (towards Wellington), I would find it 'more white'. Well good thing for me, then. Whew.
I think I am in for a real treat when I leave. I picture a society a little more casual and a little less civilized. People probably wear shoes less than they do here. And I just know I'll see heaps more sheep.
In short, Auckland is nice, but I wouldn't want to live here forever.