This past week has been a busy and jumbled but fun mess of school, friends, good food, and mud.
Easter break is coming up soon. We will all be off on our two-week long vacations by this Saturday. And naturally, all of our classes have scheduled their mid-semester tests for the first few days we get back from break. So everyone is slowly starting to worry about what they’re supposed to know for all these tests, but studying in New Zealand turns out to be pretty hard sometimes. The weather’s just too good all the time.
The other day I was working away like a good student when my flat mate, Moses from Zimbabwe, came over to talk. I was working on a paper for “Political Anthropology,” so I asked him what everyone else in the world thought about Americans. He’s traveled quite a bit, and is interested in politics, so I was curious to see what he’d say. What makes America so special? Why are we such a big deal? Well it started with him smiling and taking a deep breath, leaning back in his chair, and saying, “well I will give you the politically correct version…” From there we had a super interesting nearly-hour-long talk…if you’re interested I’d be happy to tell you about it someday. But basically he said America has too big of a worldwide presence and works too hard to assimilate other cultures. We are a “bully” in the eyes of some and the go-to moneyman for problem solving to others. And America is a big deal because of the movie industry… Hmm.
This last weekend Jake and I were committed to staying home. In a way we lucked out, because our “Fauna of New Zealand” class has a lab component, but the lab hardly ever meets. In fact it really only meets twice to test us, and twice to prep us for field trips or assignments, and twice for the actual field trips. But both of those field trips happened this weekend. The first one took us to an Estuary at Foxton beach to survey the area’s invertebrate diversity. We sat in the mud for three hours, digging at the mud, carrying buckets of water through the mud, getting pinched by crabs in the mud, and picking out bugs from the mud. Fun. The next day was actually quite a lot better – we went to a wildlife reserve called Nga Manu. We saw a lot of New Zealand birds there, as well as an eel feeding and captive Tuatara and Kiwis.
In other news, this week brought some new foods into my life – some really good, and some REALLY bad…
Burgerfuel is this fancy-burger joint here that is renowned for their kumara fries. Apparently New Zealanders found it appalling that I didn’t know what kumara fries were, so if you are as naïve as I was: kumara is a root like the potatoes, but is orange like the sweet potato, but is not sweet, and is denser than both kinds of potatoes. And they can be made into delicious fries. The burgers at bugerfuel were super good too – they had all kinds of options with everything from mango to peppers to peanut butter and “salad” being put on the burger.
Jake and I also bought ourselves a box of “Wheat Bix” so we could start having proper, genuine New Zealand breakfasts. Imagine a granola bar-sized block of dehydrated cornflakes with slightly less taste. When you pour milk over them they instantaneously take on the consistency of 10-minute old soggy cereal. But, with a bit of sugar, cinnamon, and banana slices Wheat Bix are surprisingly good. Weird, but good.
As for the REALLY bad food…if you ever see “Marmalite” or “Veggimite” in the stores and think it looks like an interesting kind of peanut butter or something – STAY AWAY. Fermented rotten beef-bouillon spread. That’s what it tastes like. Nasty stuff.
On a semi-food related note, our friend group discovered that Pac’ and Save was having a “beer and wine” sale last week. Ok, not really food related at all. But we boosted the beer company, Tui’s, revenue and got many strange looks from our fellow bus-riders. And it was worth it!
Well Happy (very belated) St. Patty’s day everyone! There may not be another blog post for a while due to my Easter Break travel plans, and limited access to Internet and computers, but I can promise the next post will be worth the wait! Easter break will see Jake, Brittany, Megan, Katie, Tom, Christy, occasionally Donny, and I to the South Island for 13 days. Stay tuned for tales of sea kayaking with dolphins in the Milford sound, horseback riding through the fiord lands, beach days in Kaikoura, penguin and other wildlife sight-seeing in Dunedin, glimpsing the glaciers, and much, much more.