Saturday, April 04, 2009

Retraining the Brain

It takes 2 to retrain the brain. One to make the motor acts of driving, the other to loudly announce every right and left turn, and visibly gesture which lane to point the car, and which way the driver should turn his head. This works quite well and we managed to get out of Auckland and up the coast with relatively little distress to either party. The only minor slip up occurred when the shouting and pointing person zoned out for a few seconds. This cute little Nissan took us up the "Northland" toward Whangmea. Quirky weather they have up north--clear sunny skies with intermittent mists and showers that last no more than a minute, a bit like the misters that come on in Safeway when you are about to reach for the broccoli. It must be what keeps the grass so green and the ferns growing among the pampas grass, which line the hillsides. Ray was a bit anxiety ridden in trying to find a store that sold fishing licenses, when we realized that tomorrow is Sunday and the stores would be closed. Wouldn't you know it- you don't need a license to fish in the ocean therefore they are hard to find up here, and geez, we would happen to pick the wrong stores, provoking even greater anxiety, only to find the 3rd store out of 3 sold them! I did buy a smoked mullet which we ate with our fingers in the car, in the parking lot of the fishing store. Yum. Toll road up the Northland without tollbooths; what a concept. You buy toll passes at the "petrol station" or at a roadside machine ahead of time or call the toll free number to give them a credit card number. You have 3 days to pay. Cameras are mounted above the road and if you don't pay, you are fined!

After last night's lavish dinner, we opted for simple tonight. Checking out the local Safeway-like grocery store, we were so excited about the quality and prices of produce, we ended up with a huge bag of fruit. We didn't find oversized fruit like in the US, but normal sized apples and pears, not unlike the organic produce we are used to. The prices,oh so cheap. Apples for NZZ$1.50/lb, equivalent to around $1 a pound. Can you believe they have 5 varieties of wheet bix? 5 grain, barley, etc.! I am amazed at the healthy choices in food. There are a lot fewer choices here-one variety of paper towels, 3 types of mustard and not an entire shelf-ful. We decided on fresh bread, deli meats, and local mussels garlic or bbq sauced (which were delicious, by the way).

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