Friday, August 29, 2008

New Zealand Day Two: Hanging out at the Dentist and Other Adventures


I started the day out with Cheerios. In Samoa there is a grocery store where you can buy Cheerios. They cost $16 tala a box. Seeing as how I can get two weeks of breakfasts out of a $5.50-tala container of oatmeal, I cannot justify a week's worth of $16 Cheerios. However, they were only $4 NZ, so I am going to have Cheerios ever day.

Breakfast was two courses today. After the Cheerios, some internets time (dear lord! the internets are sooooo fast!) and a ridiculously long hot shower (I shaved my legs! all of them!), we headed directly across the street to the Dunkin Donuts. We bought a half dozen (three glazed, one sugared, one chocolate frosted and one chocolate glazed). We realized we had forgotten something in the room and went upstairs to retrieve it. By the time we reached the room (literally across the street and five floors up from Dunkin Donuts) we were each on our last doughnut.

Next we walked to the Auckland Museum. Our walk took us past at least three universities in the city and through a park with nice walking paths. The museum is located in the middle of the park.

The first exhibit we saw was displays of ornamentation, musical instruments, tools, weapons, clothes, etc from peoples all over the Pacific region. There was very little there to represent Samoa, maybe five items in the room of hundreds. I am not sure why this is. We did discover there is a New Ireland, which I had never heard of before.

The Maori area was of course impressive and extensive. The Maori are known for their woodwork and carvings. And it was truly amazing to see the scope and detail of the works in person. The replica Maori meeting house was indescribable. The ornamentation was outrageous. We also saw a pataka, which at first glance is like a Maori doll house, a miniature version of the full-sized meeting house or store room. However, these served a much different purpose. These small houses were built on stilts or platforms. Each family had one and stored choice foods and precious goods (such as birds feathers) in them. They served as a public display of status. The more elaborately decorated your pataka, with more coveted goods inside, the higher the family's status.

Auckland Museum

I was most interested in the Hei Tiki. These are representations of the god Tiki (who I had recently read more about in Kon-Tiki) usually done in jade. There were at least a hundred of these pendants is a variety of sizes all showing a human shape, head tilted to one side and most likely the tongue sticking out. According to the postcard we got, "...hei tiki are the most characteristic and most highly valued of all Maori personal ornaments. They are passed down through the generations as family heirlooms, worn by both men and women. The mana or prestige of the hei tiki derives from its close contact with those great ancestors who have worn it in the past."

Auckland Museum

Cale spent a great deal of the time analyzing the similarities between the Maori and Samoan languages. When you take into the consideration that the Maori wh sounds like an f and postulate that the Maori k is the glottal stop in Samoan, you have a lot of Maori words beginning with whaka, very similar to the Samoan fa'a. There were also many Maori words that were identical to Samoan words, except the Maori used an r where the Samoan would use an l. There was a map and flow chart that showed the evolution of the Pacific languages. It indicated that Maori broke off from the mother language about two steps before Samoan did, so they do share a common background.

Each of the island groups also had a small display area. The Samoan area had a fine mat on display (obviously) and other items that were familiar to us. Interestingly, most of the island groups had a traditional type of fan on display. The type of fan on display in the Tongan area was identical to the fans available in the flea market in Apia today and the once used by everyone all over the islands. However, the fan on display in the Samoan area was different then the ones we see there now. I also saw a historical president for a modern trend. Necklaces made of many small, red plastic chili peppers are very popular. I always thought it to be a strange Mexican/cheap Chinese manufacture that had for some reason become popular. However, in the Samoan display there was a necklace made of pointed, red pandanus fruit. It did indeed look just like the red chili pepper necklaces. So there you go.

After the museum we walked back to town and had a kebab on pita at one of the dozens and dozens of Turkish kebab places on Queen Street. It was delicious, though the NZ cheese did throw it off a little (I recently learned that legally, all milk in NZ must be pasteurized, so they apparently have a hard time making too many varieties of cheese there. That is why you see Tasty, Mild and Colby and that is about it. I think this cheese was Tasty). We also had Ginger Beer, which I did not like.

Next we dropped the camera off at a shop to have the sensor cleaned and had some internets time at the hostel while we waited for our dentist appointments.

Our dentist appointments were at 6pm at a dentist's office that is open until 8pm every night. How strange. I thoroughly enjoyed the cleaning (he used a water pick instead of just scrapping my teeth with the metal pick like the dentist in the States always did to me) and it was a true joy to have clean teeth when it was all over. The dentist was a young guy from Brazil who moved to NZ after being robbed at gun point in his home country. The hygienist was a middle-aged woman from South Africa who moved because all the security measures required to be safe in that country were keeping her kids from playing outside or growing up secure. She and her husband had actually applied for US citizenship (or visas, I am not sure) three times, but were turned down. Her husband had been working in Arkansas and they would have moved there, but instead are now in NZ. Cale and I stuck around an extra 30 minutes or so talking to the dentist and hygienist about the safety of Auckland (very safe), the image of Americans abroad (not so hot) and the treatment of indigenous peoples (we have differing opinions from them). Talk about an unusual way to spend your Friday night.

After that it was back to the hostel where the hostel bar was boasting free beer (and alco-pops) until the $1,000 tab ran out. Cale and I each got a pint of Tui, but the place was very crowded and not very interesting, so we decided to bail. Our goal for the evening was to see a rock 'n roll show. However, we had been having a hard time finding any on the internets. Cale had seen a flyer for a CD release party, so we decided to give that a try. However, after a long tramp down K'Street and still no club in sight, we decided we were too hungry and tired to keep looking. On the way home we stopped for Korean BBQ at a buffet where you cooked your own meat at the table. Back at the hostel, we discovered we had gone the wrong way on K'Street when looking for the club, but at that point, I just wanted to relax. Maybe we will try again tomorrow.

Food Watch: Day Two
Dunkin Donuts
Kabob on pita with the works
Ginger Beer
Korean BBQ
Vending machine cookie
Lion Red

Weather Watch: Day Two
Auckland: 55 degrees
Samoa: 88 degrees

— Sara

1 comment:

Roll Bama Roll said...

Y'all don't remember the 24 hour dentists on I-Drive in Orlando? Granted, it was wise to avoid I-Drive as much as possible, but those always left me scratching my head.