It's Not The Years, Honey....

Trip Start Jun 01, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"It's this whole other country"

-- Forrest Gump

When JRR Tolkien wrote the words "White shores, and beyond... A far green country, under a swift sunrise", he was referring to the Grey Havens, the place the elves were heading to when they sacked off Middle Earth. But isn't it also possible he was referring to New Zealand?

No. No it isn't. He was talking about the Grey Havens. Sorry. Got a bit excited there. Don't really know what I was thinking.

When eminent travel writer and amateur humorist Mike "Of course I'll respect you in the morning. If anything, more so" Horner wrote the words "New Zealand... Like England but without a dirty big city everywhere you look and gangs of youths in tracksuits roaming the countryside in packs" it is more likely that he  was referring to the country where I now find myself.

So what happened, in a nut shell, was this:

The plan used to be that I would go to New Zealand when I got bored of Australia and could afford it, while Vinny would stay in Sydney living up the high life. At some point in the future we would meet up again and continue our quest.

Then a few things happened to both of us, and things got a little dragged out. I won't go into Vinny's details, as it's not really my place. Suffice to say the Ginger Jedi went home a while ago, and after spending a week or so there went off to work in France for a bit. I'll nudge him into telling you all about it next time I talk to him. The trip, for the time being at least, has lost fifty percent of it's population and at least forty percent of its good looks.

Meanwhile, I went to New Zealand. Many months ago I enlisted the partnership of a wonderful Irish chap called Jon, who I met at that den of iniquity and last hope for the damned, The Pint on Punt. He, like me, had no real direction, no real money and was bored to tears of life in Australia. We set in motion a sequence of events that led to us arriving here in Auckland last Tuesday.

I should reiterate at this point that Irish Jon is in no way a replacement for the Ginger Jedi - Vinny was never coming to NZ anyway, he was going to stay in Sydney, so don't write in with unfair comparisons or abuse. Well, you can if you like.... Anyway, Jon does realise the terrible responsibility he has as my travelling partner for the next however many months, and has big, Chewbacca sized shoes to fill... Not that Chewbacca wore shoes of course.

The main difference between traveling with Vinny and Jon is that Jon is Irish. This, coupled with the fact that for the last four months I was (was.... past tense doesn't break any rules) dating an Irish girl does mean I have started to pick up a few phrases. I can't help but say "Work away" now when I mean "Be my guest". I also sometimes say "Will I" when I mean "Shall I". I refer to people as "Your man", regardless of ownership. I have been vehemently resisting the urge to describe a cupboard as a 'press'. That one is just wrong.

The other source of comedy comes from me adopting my Irish accent... Now, anyone who's ever heard me doing an Irish accent (anyone ever heard me tell the joke about the priest, the bishop and the nun?) will realise just how bad it is. If anything, it's worse now. Still, it works a like a dream on anyone not from Ireland or the UK, or, even better, English people under twenty who seem unable to separate Scottish from Irish, let alone my efforts... Do you remember Sean Bean's Irish accent in Patriot Games? Well, mine's that bad.. In fact I based it on his.

That said, last time I was back home I was accused of having an Australian accent, and if I had to chose, I'd go with the paddys any day. Girls love an Irish accent, even a massively fake and politically insensitive one.

So anyway, Auckland. Everyone who we spoke to about Auckland - everyone - told us it was a shithole. And they weren't that far from the truth. We came here because, although it's not the capital, it is the biggest city and we want to spend the first month or two working before setting off to explore (I say want, when 'have to' would be more accurate). Plus, I have a few contacts here and some work lined up in advance, which is always a bonus when you're funding your entire trip to NZ with money you made [removed on legal advice] in a pub.

It's not that bad, to be fair. The city itself is very small, and we're staying right in the middle so it all works out well. There aren't any trams or anything like that, which seems great at first glance after spending too long in Melbourne, but then you realise that if you need to go anywhere you can't walk to you'll need to catch a... bus. I hate buses, like every other free thinking human being.

We haven't really had the chance to see much other than the city itself, which is like any other city. So far it's been all about visas, jobs, accomadation and other such fun things. But we'll get our chance to explore and, as ever, record the wonderful things we see and the stupid things that we do right here for you, the Travelpod Several.

In the meantime, it's my birthday so I'm off out.

I don't worry that I've achieved another annual milestone. After all, it's like I always say:

El Diablo sabe mas por viejo que por Diablo.

Well, I say always.. I mean ever since I made some poor Spanish girl teach it to me.

The Devil knows more because he is old than because he is the Devil....

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