Tag Archive | my move to new zealand

Driver’s license in New Zealand

25 August 2006

Foreigners are allowed to continue to use their original driver’s license up to 1 year after arriving in New Zealand. Then they need to get a New Zealand driver’s license. Because New Zealanders drives in the left lane, most tourists and newcomers better would be forced to take driver’s lessons immediately on arrival.

A new license sounds worse than it is, because we only had to do the theoretical test. When we trained ourselves in answering the 200 questions at home, we simply walked into the AA office on a quite day. An appointment was not necessary. Our eyes were tested right on the spot and a new photo was taken with a camera screwed on the desk.
Then we sat down at a table with one of those anti-crib-screens between us. We didn’t need to bring a pen, because to answer the 40 multiple choice questions we had to scratch off. So, already during the test I knew I had zero errors! The exciting scratch card sentiment was even reinforced, because the AA office is located in a corner of the festive showroom of a car dealer.
driver's license
I wrote that the New Zealander is practical. Another example of this, is the donor problem; If you want to drive legally you are also old enough to know if you want to be an organ donor, and your decision is immediately printed on your new license. The license looks like a credit card.

Cars are human

3 December 2005

While I’m painting, Frank is busy trying to get the cars on license.
human carsIt seems like we are the first people in New Zealand ever, who have imported something this strange. One of our cars never has had a Dutch license. We never started that process in the Netherlands, after we imported the Imperial from USA, because of the expected short time he would drive on the Dutch roads.
In order to obtain a New Zealand license, for example the cars first need an approval document for the LPG (they run on gas), but to get that LPG-document the cars must have a license … that’s a vicious circle of impossibilities.

The Lincoln is owned by me. It’s on my name. But the documents of the import (of both cars) were done on Frank’s name. So actually, Frank has imported a car that is not in his possession! Fortunately, the inspector understood that it would be slightly cumbersome to export the car back to the Netherlands for the proper appellation.
Conveniently, we can screw on the Pajero license plates on the Lincoln hence we don’t need to rent a car ambulance every time she has to be checked and modified. The Imperial however, unfortunately is not drivable because he has no brakes yet.
Btw … did you notice I call the Lincoln a ‘she’ and the Imperial a ‘he’? In the classic-car-community it’s common to use the she-word for the landyachts (another pet name). Initially I found it a weird habit, but after a while I got used to it. However, I can’t do it with the Imperial … that beast is too masculine.

The Imperial has a hole in the floor of the size of a shoe and it needs to be fixed by a company at the bottom of the mountain. Driving the way up to our house is not a problem without brakes, but down is not thinkable.
Frank rented the largest tow truck from the whole Bay area, because earlier this week the Imperial had almost crushed an ‘adult’ trailer by climbing on it.
Also in this hauler the front wheels slowly went up when he was winched in … It was really sensational to see how our enormous giant was crawling on the back of the tow truck. The tow truck almost looked skinny and I felt sorry for it. I was stunned that the driver didn’t stop us and kept his face straight. Sincere applause!

Spot the differences!

human cars

Household goods

31 October 2005

household goodsFriday the sea container with household goods was put in our street by a swing lift. That’s a truck with 2 huge claws on board, resembling giant spider legs.
To prevent the trees to be damaged, the container was placed at the beginning of our dead-end street about 70 meters from the house. It was opened by another inspector, who checked for hidden animals, insects and suspicious odors.

Maybe Dutchies are restrained to owe their neighbours a favour in an early stage. So, to prevent they would notice the clamor outside and persist to help us to empty the container, we hired 2 guys to quickly do the job. Wishful thinking. Within five minutes I saw 2 neighbours walking between the container and the house with very familiar stuff on their backs. We felt embarrassed and it’s difficult to explain why. As newbie’s we don’t want to bother and of course the neighbours only wanted to make us feel welcome.
Also an anonymous neighbour put a home-made cake on our stairs. Oh dear.

At the end of the day, sneakily in the dark, we put a few bottles of wine at the neigbours’ doorstep. No idea if that is appropriate or not, but that’s how Dutchies try to get rid of the owing. Weird cultures šŸ™‚ Stiff meets laid-back.

household goodsAfter a week ‘I’m-lying-under-a-newspaper-and-you-have-to-get-me’ from the book ‘Indoor activities for bored toddlers’ we allowed Pini to play outside. Without parental supervision. She is very happy. Like us. She stays neatly in her own yard. Like us. And they poops neatly in someone else’s garden. Like us.
Her new job is to guard the garden from birds and against the white neighbour-cat bent on faecal revenge. Pini is particularly proud to be the only woman in the neighbourhood with an embroidered phone number around her neck!

household goodsThat scary flickering lamp, perhaps is indication of a slightly different view with regards to the installation of electricity. Over here it is forbidden to fiddle with your wiring by yourself, but that’s probably deeper reason that the professionals tying the wires on a very inscrutable way. Frank had cutoff the power and still he got a shock …

Talking about professionals;
On the radio I heard an advertisement for a plumbing company with the specialty that all employees definitely are above 40 years old, guaranteeing their experience …

Sea container arrival

26 October 2005

The past two days were devoted to the car container. Which was of course much more important than the furniture container. Yes, we do miss the washing machine, all my pretty clothes and my art materials, but my nightmare is, that the cars are left unguarded too long and take up too much space in a busy area. Then other people will make decisions to get them through customs. That could mean; driving them!
I know, nightmares are not realistic.

Like true watch dogs we were all day at the port, until the cars were released after thoroughly being investigated by a bio-security inspector for insects, seeds and grains of sand. Thank goodness we only had to do an additional vacuuming on the spot. If the guy had been bad-tempered, he could demand both cars to get steam cleaned and then we still had to hang around another day in a constant stream of passing by dock workers, asking; “What’s the maximum speed? What’s the weight? What’s the year? How much horsepower?”

Wow, that machine is strong!
How is it possible?! My baby back!
Oooooh, completely intact !!! And just as insolent as always.
In the meanwhile we are searching the Yellow Pages to find a transporter that would be available immediately once we get the green light. We found one. For such big cars we get a matching driver. He weighs at least 200 kilo’s, so we had good value for money!
It was so much fun to drive our Pajero behind the float of wobbly cars! Gently rocking, like two fat ladies on the tram …

(arrows findable in the enlarged pictures)

Something else:
In the local paper a charity auction is announced. Fifty percent goes to charity and printed is a long list of local businesses who are sponsoring the auction. The items they offer are listed as; CDs, clothing, jewelry, linen, etc. But one of the most intriguing items is that of Osborne Attewell Clews & Law; they offer a free divorce.

We haven’t seen our neighbour for 3 days. The only person we saw was someone who brought a bouquet of flowers and a white envelope.
Was it Osborne?

Car seats in the living room

23 October 2005

car seats in the living roomWe still have no chairs, but today Frank got the bright idea to take out the 5th and 6th car seat. A relief, because I’m already a bit of an hunchback and without proper chairs it got worse. It is almost cozy now; seated in front of the warm fireplace, with the seat belts on, haha.

Our shopping for today was another plant. I had my eye on a Cape Gooseberry. This plant gets orange fruits growing in a small brown paper bag. You’ve probably seen them as one of those nice lantern-like decorations on the dessert in a fancy restaurant. And then there was always someone on the same table asking: “Huh, is this edible???”

Ā Click on the image to see happened 4 years later

Today we wanted to eat something bad, nasty and fatty. We paid for this sin by walking to the fast food eatery, instead of driving by car. The shop is called ‘Grandad’s Fish & Chips’ and the sign on the window says it’s an award-winning place to be.
Grandad turned out to be a Chinese boy of about 25 years old. Doesn’t matter … the faded sign was from 1996. You need to know on this part of the hemisphere this kind of ‘food’ is still served rolled in a newspaper. Okay … with a sheet of white paper in between, but still … weird. I’m wondering if this is done because of some considerations of nostalgia. Anyway … this meal was the lowest form of food we have ever experienced in our lives. Matching the quality and taste we ate it outside on a bench beside the trash bin.

Back home I have rewarded us by home-baked cookies !!! The first time in my life.

Small talk and hot pools

21 October 2005

small talk and hot poolsDuring the wait for the sea container -doomed to be bored to death- our favourite thing to do has become shopping. Every day we allow ourselves to buy 1 something, because that is our only amusement when the sun is not shining. If the sun does shine, of course we do exhaustive forest and beach hikes, but we won’t bore you with the enumeration of all that scenic beauty.
That ‘buying something’ can range from furry winter slippers (there’s only 1 single wood stove in the house) to a clothesline, or a strawberry plant, or chrome polish. Every day we are looking forward to this shopping moment. Mostly 30 minutes before leaving the house, at least one of us is already waiting and tail-wagging at the front door, anticipating the joy.
We buy 1 thing per day. Today our highlight was buying a tin opener. Usually we write a real honouring shopping list for that one and only thing!

New Zealanders love to talk. If they ask: “How are you?”, they expect a real answer. They are not easy to put off with some mumble. The least thing you have to do is to ask the same question in return. Therefore often encounters with neighbours are turning into endless conversations. In daily traffic eye contact is answered promptly with an explicit greeting. Even teenagers half hiding under a tree, politely interrupt their kissing session for a friendly nod.
During shopping you can not avoid some form of attention. For me, as being a hermit-light, it is something I really need to get used to. In the Netherlands contact with strangers was much more formal, so living in my invisible mobile cocoon didn’t necessary feel like being unsocial.

In a New Zealand supermarket:
Cashier: “Ah, cat food … what kind of cat do you have?”
Customer: “Um … a black and white”.
Cashier: “We used to have a cat. But now we have moved on and we had to left him. Too bad though, because they are cute. How long do you have him?”
Customer: “Um … five years.”

Cashier: “Does it taste good, that Italian coffee?”
Customer: “Uh … yeah, good.”
Cashier: “I always wanted to try it, but it’s a little expensive. Maybe I should buy it some time”.

Well, you see … I’m not good in it. It’s a totally undeveloped area in my brain.

The container ship ‘Busan Express’ will arrive next week in Tauranga and yesterday we were at the port already, to arrange the paperwork. We have visited 4 offices! A joy, because the day flew by!

small talk and hot poolsTo make it into a bit of a break, we went to the mineral hot pools too. No, not those white terraces in the open countryside, where people with skin diseases are soaking. These were just some private swimming pools of 3 x 5 meter, that you can hire per 30 minutes. Or you can choose to swim in a normal sized pool without a time limit, together with floating strangers. The mineral water comes from somewhere deep inside of Mother Earth and is just the right temperature; the temperature of mild fever, haha.
When we dipped in it was already dusk and it just started to rain really hard. We chose one of the private pools without a roof. It was fun!

Harvesting vegetables

10 October 2005

We have been back to Auckland because HURRAY, Pini had accomplished her prescribed 30-day quarantine!!!
We checked in at the counter with $ 1,000 ransom. The lady at the desk was relieved to see us, because they had been expecting us last Saturday … (what??? I’m quite sure I can count to 30 pretty good, since … let us say … since 35 years … but ok, don’t argue.)
At first Pini loudly meowed in the car for 2 hours and then fell asleep for the next 2 hours. On the ground, on the driver’s side, near the pedals. Because of course just that is the best spot to relax (?!).

Once in the green house, she had hours of work to rub every corner and edge, and she doesn’t budge from our side more than a few inches. That is good. Her job as a pet is hard, because she is our only toy now. Along with the laptop and newspaper. So having her around is a great improvement in our daily struggle to get through the day. The next excitement is the arrival of the container, but that will take more than two weeks.

What happens if you don’t have a TV? Then you play games. What happens if you don’t have games? Well, when I was your age, haha … we were all sweet with a basket of clothespins! So, on my shopping list were clothespins today.
harvesting vegetablesI also walked around in the garden and have found all kinds of food! Oranges, leeks, broad beans and some greens unknown to me, but planted in rows which suggested to me that they are edible. I’m totally unfamiliar with vegetable gardens, but it looks like fun. I also bought a hoe and even dug up some potatoes and carrots! As a child I shivered of broad beans -they still smelled like socks- but today I found them delicious.

European style

4 October 2005

european styleYesterday I moved the bed to the dining area, where also is located the phone wall plug. Now we can use internet in bed (remember; we are writing 2005 šŸ˜‰ ). But a more important reason is, now the bed was further away from that scary lamp.

But this night I saw the kitchen light is flashing too …

Now we are in possession of an car insurance, an address and a fridge, we find ourselves already real citizens, so we went to the council for registration. At the information desk we proudly told why we were here for. The lady looked at us a bit oddly. However, she called someone else in to help her out. They discussed something together and unanimously decided we don’t need to enroll. Disappointed we slinked off. How do they do their census? In the Netherlands we are un-registered. And here they don’t want to register us …
Where ARE we? We want to belong to SOMETHING !!!

For days, in a radius of 100 kilometers we are searching for outdoor chairs which we want to use now for temporarily indoor chairs. We are discovering that not only the second-hand furniture is terrible, but new furniture too. It also may be that we are very spoiled. But at the other hand … every furniture item with the tiniest ‘European’ touch is loudly advertised. Over here “European style” is a superlative. So, at least the New Zealander realizes there is something to worship. At this point I regret we so highty-tighty refused that dizzying stock at Ikea and all those little design shops in Amsterdam. Now we have to drive a long way for some chairs that are not made of white plastic or chairs that may be purchased individually rather than by 9-piece set.
european style
An advantage of all these kilometers, is that I had to drive on the left side twice again. I have dared to drive 90 kilometers per hour, I did winding roads in the mountains and waved to other truckers! All at once!

Back to Auckland

1 October 2005

I had a quite sleepless night. The pillows were too flat and the house creaked.
The house is made of wood and when the temperature changes at night the wood moves and creates very loud sounds.
Also every 10 seconds the lamp above our bed in the living room made a very faint, eerie flash. We thought it would stop as soon as the lamp might consumed some left-over electricity (or so?!), but every time I looked at it, it still was creepily flashing!
On my nocturnal trip to the bathroom, I didn’t dare to under pass the lamp; scared for the Electric Arm that would drag me into the mains. So I had to get out, and back in, stepping over Frank’s head.
He is a very patient man.

In the morning at 7:45 AM we were already starting the car to go to Auckland on pet-visit at Pini. That distance is about the same as Amsterdam/Luxembourg.
Pini is very happy again. Not especially with her own existence, but with our presence. Her neighbour cat finds us extremely interesting too and he is sitting and watching us the full hour, pleading with his nose flat on the glass. Occasionally interrupted with theatrical tearing out substantially pieces of fur. On his door I read that is in the cattery for a few months now, so … I guess it’s not very good for their mental health.

back to aucklandAfter the solemn promise to Pini that mom & dad come to get her within 9 days, we go to a mall to buy fuller pillows and … to face that refrigerator problem. Those small knee-high mini fridges are offered for 340 New Zealand dollar, but here in Auckland we found one for only 199.
“Always good for the future guest room!” is what we say very often, lately.

First day in the green house

30 September 2005

The cheap motel is said goodbye and we have occupied the green house. The manager of the hotel shouted after Frank: “Don’t forget to come to the Topless Waitress Show next week!”

Like agreed; on our first day the new bed is delivered. With exaggerated royal linen because in the next 4 weeks the bed will be our only piece of furniture. We placed it in the living room, because we also need to sit and eat on it.

Today the shopping list only contains some cleaning utensils. Without furniture my household is so incredibly small, that I’m planning to do it very thorough and very slow. I’m even looking forward to it, because until the arrival of the shipping containers, we don’t have anything else to play with.
The summer hasn’t start yet, but we don’t want to do the typical tourist things anyway, because we want to save those trips until the parents come to visit us in a couple of months.

We realized we didn’t think about how to cool our groceries. Actually, a fridge is a bit too expensive to purchase for only 4 weeks. We’ve been told that there is a lively trade in second hand goods, but found out that was a bit disappointing. Indeed there is a lot of junk, but it’s so expensive! You better buy new.
Maybe a tiny new fridge? One of those mini-bar sizes?

Household appliances

29 September 2005

The neighbours in our hotel are laborers who are living somewhere rural in the country. Here, after work, they drink away their evenings in the hotel bar. Last night I was suddenly awakened by a noise, followed by the light turned on in our adjoining front room. I hammered on Frank’s head, but when he woke up the light was already turned off and we heard someone stumble away …
Strange. Probably all motel rooms, for convenience, have the same key. The nocturnal visitor was certainly not interested in our beautiful laptop, glitzy digital camera and the new mobile phone laying around on the dinner table.

The credit card WORKED!!! And it was lovely to buy householdĀ appliances. You couldn’t get a girl more happy. Especially in a good end of season sale.

household appliancesAfter we had loaded a full trolley of purchases in the car, we decided to bring it right away to the new house. We can’t move in before Friday, but we were allowed to use the key. It was good to look around on our own and to feel free to check every little corner and to take pictures.

The first parcel with Frank’s name on it, was already put at the front door. The modem! Maybe it works tomorrow! I’m not able to concentrate myself any longer in the internet cafe, because they are playing loud German hard rock.

Those people walking barefoot on the street are actually a completely accepted phenomenon; On the window at the stained-glass shop hangs a sign: Footwear is recommended. Yeah hahaha.

I still have no idea what to reply when someone says: “Hi, how are you ?!” I noticed in the USA it is more or less a kind of greeting if you enter a shop or restaurant, without a real answer is expected. But if I only smile and doing a friendly nod, a New Zealander takes the time to ask the question a second time! Are they really interested in a meaningful answer? In the Netherlands we are not used to such an interest in a complete stranger.
It’s refreshing, but in a strange way it also makes me feel to be ‘too noticed’.

Arranging connection to daily life

28 September 2005

Last week Frank has found coins on the street for already 4 times! He is thinking about to becoming a professional money sweeper. By contrast; to get our money out of the ATM is rather tough though. Our new credit card, which we temporarily have entrusted our entire earthly possessions, suddenly pretends not to know us. Luckily to get the key money for the house, succeeded with our emergency card, so next Friday we can move into the green house.
We still have 3 days to gather some inventory. Well, hopefully … if the new credit card can be hypnotized back into life. Because of the time difference we have to call our Dutch bank late at night. And we are calling them every night!

Connection to electricity was organized in only 5 minutes! We got a real person on the phone, instead of a menu. Conveniently! The receptionist of the help desk made us believe we will have an internet connection right next week!

I got my first job from the Netherlands. I have to create an illustration for an ABC book about cities. I make 50 euros plus royalties, so soon we can buy 12 of those small boxes of expensive cherry tomatoes, whahaha.
arranging connection to daily lifeFurthermore, I got compliments of three different women in different shops chattering about my lovely necklace. Well … if everything fails, I still can order a few kilos of beads and start a lovely-necklace-stall!

To buy a bed we went to Tauranga. That’s a 90 kilometers ride.
Frank forced me to take the wheel, to get me used to the right-hand drive. I hardly dare to exceed 80 kilometers per hour, while all other road users seemed to do 200!
I just got a deep respect for all New Zealanders and British people, who drive the wrong side of the road daily.

Many myths about New Zealand are untrue, but their not-so-fashionable furniture is correct. For beds they have a preference for these weird high double granny mattresses. We have chosen the most Ikea-like bed that was available, with the softest mattress in the store. “That’s weird”, said the sales man, “because all Dutchmen always choose hard mattresses.” When we wanted to checkout our new the bed, pillows, duvet and linen … that rotten credit card still didn’t work! While last night the bank clerk emphasize … and he convinced us … and he swore that …
Tonight we will call again. The 3rd time!

Viewing the rental house

26 September 2005

Fortunately, today everyone is back to work and we can continue our live too.
The morning we spent again in various stores. At the outside of Whakatane we found some furniture stores, car dealers and giant stores with clothes and household stuff. It is all much larger than I thought. But for today we have limited ourselves to buy valve caps and a quick orientation walk in a bed store. Our own furniture doesn’t arrive earlier than next month.

In the afternoon we finally can view the inside of the rental house on the mountain. It is painted in a quite ugly bright green colour. The bottom is a double garage and on top are 3 small bedrooms, a very small livingroom, kitchen, bathroom and a large deck. The car can be parked under the deck. The house is located at the end of a short dead-end street with four other houses. Inside it ‘s the kind of house like when you just left your parents. Very simple.
viewing the rental houseWe went to see another house to have the idea that we are making a well through-out choice. The other house is located in a plain and cheaper neighborhood.
To the real estate agent we pretended we need a deep think, but as soon as she is gone we drove straight back to the green house. On top of the dead-end street we called her to say that we wanted the green one.

Before tomorrow 11:00 AM we have to hand over the key money. Only if … we get permission from the landlord. Oh dear, how do we get him in a good favor? Shall I wear that glitter shirt with that deep cleavage? Or do loyal payers just wear pleated grey skirts.

Exploring the supermarket

25 September 2005

After two weeks of living on fast food it starts to turn us off. Our truckers room contains a kitchenette with a few tiny tin pans and a kind of single-person gourmet set. So Saturday afternoon we are doing some regular shoppings at the ‘New World’, a huge supermarket. It takes quite some time, because every item needs to be read and translated. Except the liquorice, Amsterdam onions, chocolate sprinkles, herring, applesauce, stuffed … etc. because that are typical Dutch products. The vegetable department looks exactly the same as in the Netherlands. No surprises here. Picking and weighing the veggies is done just like we are used in the Netherlands and a small box of cherry tomatoes is extremely expensive too, just like home …
exploring the supermarketAnd after all; my imported stock of favourite wrinkle creme wasn’t necessary at all. Furthermore I jaw dropped by bumping on a five meter wide shelf with only king sized sausages for dogs.
And who said that the Netherlands had way too many kinds of desserts?

After finishing the groceries we are going to try out the 4-wheel option of our car. There is a suitable area at the end of the river. A tangle of water streams and land strips connected by sandy paths with deep potholes. If you really are pushing to use your imagination: We looked a bit like the Marlborroman in the sun set.

Our first properly cooked meal is a delicious macaroni with one of those rich desserts. Right after our dinner we settled ourselves in front of the TV, excited to see a documentary about New Zealand’s history. Full of idealism, waiting for our first-class lesson of naturalization … we fell into a deep sleep -as usual- after a few minutes.
Would this new narcolepsy will ever pass?

On Sunday we walk around without any goal. We hiked on the beach, viewed a few small villages and did some shopping at a veggie stall. That didn’t stop us from powerlessly falling asleep again, right after our delicious home-made meal. I’m starting to worry. I even don’t use alcohol!!!
What if ‘normal’ life starts again???

A list with rentals and a tire blowout

24 September 2005

On Friday, just before closing time, we could pick up a list of rental houses at the real estate agency, so we have a job to do this weekend. Of course we couldn’t wait until the next morning and immediately went to see the outside of the leading contender. It’s located on a mountain. Although fully developed with no view, but still … a mountain.
We now know that the houses are unheated (a New Zealander prefers buy an electric blower heater or a sweater), so we are prepared for a life with rheumatic damp moldy beds and wardrobes. There are a lot of houses suitable, but pets are rarely accepted and often the houses are rent out for only a few months.

Just after dusk Frank discovered a huge lump on one of the tires. The tire hissed a bit too – but it is not flat yet. Back to the west side of the mountain will take about 15 minutes. That could be a blowout, but the east side of the mountain is totally deserted now. Maybe the lump is already there for weeks, maybe not. Frank still owns some alter-boy-points, so he dares to keep going.
Back in the village we parked in the window lights of a Quick-Fit store, which is obviously just closed. We found a foldable mini-jack hidden in the floor of the car, but unfortunately a cross wrench is unfindable. We tried if they sell one at the petrol station. THEY DID! It works out and now we have to do a real mature job tommorow. Getting a new tire.
Now it has become late enough to order fries at McDonalds in stead of cooking a real dinner in our truckers room.

Arriving in Whakatane

23 September 2005

arriving in whakataneBecause our car was not ready in the morning, we had some room to visit Pini a third time, before we would leave to Whakatane.
As a surprise, we brought a beautiful cardboard box with us. And a t-shirt from Frank’s own travel collection for an essential home-smell. With one of those tiny foldable travel-scissors I have cut peepholes into the side of the box.
The gift is thoroughly inspected, nosed and tried, followed by the ritual of licking and rubbing our hands. It seems like she’s more confident now we occasionally visiting her broom closet. We didn’t dare to tell her that hereafter we will stay away for at least 1 week …

At 5:00 am the car is finally ready. That’s a little too late to drive to Whakatane, so after 3 hours practise in left-handed steering we stopped at Mount Mounganui.
In bed of our Spanish styled motel room we ate a delicious Indian dinner out of a plastic bag.


Since our plans to live in New Zealand got a certain level of seriousness, we always imagined a swelling sound of a large orchestra would be heard at the entrance of Whakatane as soon as we were arriving. But far after that moment has passed, we realized that we didn’t hear anything. .
However, the weather is beautiful. In despite of the sunny winter day, we are striked by the large number of bare feet people.
Every hotel in Whakatane said ‘no vacancy’, what ultimately drifted us to a very cheap hotel in a nearby village. It is mainly populated by truckers and laborers and it’s a bit noisy and old, but we have to pay only 25% of the prices of the motels on the main road of Whakatane.
We can stay a few days longer and quietly looking for a rental house.

Quality time with Pini

21 September 2005

Yesterday we went by train to another suburb, called Penrose. We planned to buy a second-hand car from one of the dozens car shops over there. We wanted to check them all and then make a well-advised a mature choice. But … soon we made up all kind of reasons why it was better to buy a car at the very first dealer, located at only 10 meters of the train station.
First; The owner had very honest eyes.
Second; It was still raining cats and dogs and it was nice dry and warm inside ā€œGenuine Vehicle Importsā€
Third; We were weak and eager.
Fourth: We had bought a one-way train ticket deliberately.
So, we returned with a borrowed car, with the promise our chosen car was dusted, regreased and proven for road fitness in 2 days.

quality time with piniThis morning we visited Pini again. We calculate on 1 hour quality time at least.
To our delight she didn’t look so bristle and scared anymore. Apparently our first visit had given her some self-confidence. Again we got many kisses en were ‘proudly’ guided through her netted cupboard by herself. Alternately one of us could sit on the ground, so the other could sit on the scratching post.

After 45 minutes Pini got bored and went to lie in her bed on her own initiative. All the cat rooms are provided with a little electric blanket, so we fully understood the attraction.
By the time we began to feel rejected, we carefully walked backward through the netted door, but … that was not the intention! Again loudly meowing she followed us with her eyes.
Well, let’s face it … imagine you are lying in a hospital yourself … you probably don’t have the spirit to amuse you visitors for a full hour too. But if you accidentally are nodding off, your visitors shouldn’t have the nasty nerves to try to disappear backwards between the curtain, isn’t it?

Cat in quarantine

19 September 2005

After leaving the Netherlands and before arriving in New Zealand, we spent 1 week in Disney World, like a kind of stop-over. The flight from Orlando to Auckland took 17 hours. I think this is the longest flight possible.

Near Auckland the lightning hit the plane. Yes really! It was an enormous sound, but furthermore nothing weird was noticeable inside.
We entered the plane at Saturday night and we stepped out on Monday morning … I like to imagine that lightning was the physical effect of the dateline.
We could not sleep in the plane, but after landing we tried to directly join in the new daily routne. In stead of taking a nap we went to the quarantine cattery by train, somewhere in a suburb called Takanini.
It was raining and hailing, we lost our borrowed umbrella and after arriving at the station in Takanini, it turned out to be another 45 minutes walk.

cat in quaratineActually we were not allowed to see Pini. There were special hours for visitors. But because it was our first time, we were granted to see our own furry child for 10 minutes.
We had to go through 3 steel fences and clean our shoes in soap. Then we were permitted in Pini’s cage of about 2 square meters and 2 meters high. The poor thing had upright hair of fear and was sitting in the farest corner of the cage. Still, after 9 days!
The first 30 seconds she stared at us with big, round eyes, but then she started to purr and licked out hands. She almost climbed on us. It was great!
After exactly 10 minutes we were called we had to walk back the route to the lobby. It was terrible to close her cage again. We heard her meowing all the way through the 3 steel fences and she pressed herself against the side of her cage to see us as long as possible. It was heart breaking.
The day after tomorrow we will go again.
However, I’m wondering what is better? Maybe it is very traumatising for her if we have to leave her again. Or is it a good thing to see that her parents are coming back over and over again.

Two American cars shipped overseas

8 September 2005

After the traffic jam debacle of yesterday, we decided we better should leave home to drive to the harbour at 6:30 AM. But before that, we had to call the quarantine cattery in Auckland in the middle of the night. The time difference is 12 hours, so we put the alarm clock at 1:00 AM
Unfortunately, they did not pick up the phone.
We put the alarm clock on 2:00 AM … then the number was engaged.
2:15 AM … still engaged.

2:30 AM … Hurray !!! We got somebody at the phone!
It was no problem to receive the cat on Saturday. Of course not! Why did we think that???
We both didn’t fall asleep for the rest of the night. The alarm clock sounded again at 5:00 am

On our way to the Rotterdam harbour, I called the animals transporter at 6:00 AM. He had allowed me to call him that early, but he didn’t sound he was really conscious. I hoped he wouldn’t fall back asleep again, but would run to his office to try to arrange Pini’s departure.

At 7:00 AM we arrived half an hour too early at the office of the harbour and we were invited to wait in the workshop until someone could find some time for us. The workshop for the staff is very enjoyable. Completed with calendars of naked girls.

At 8:00 AM I couldn’t keep controlling my curiosity any longer and I called the animal transporter again. The officer of the RVV just finished checking Pini and was sealing the travel cage. The last-minute booking had succeeded !!! It made my day.
The sun was quite warm again and we moved our chairs to outside the workshop. We poured in our 4th cup of coffee …

At 13:00 PM (about the same time as the initial appointment, before the endlessly stupid … well, don’t start me) the leashing guys popped in!

(arrows in the enlarged pictures)