Friday, March 14, 2008

Reduced to a mere #2, uh mate?

# 2 Worldwide!

One of the more interesting (traumatic) experiences every year, on these long trips, is the need to get a haircut. After spending several days eyeballing the barbershops, I finally decided on a true real man’s barber shop. I am still recovering psychologically from going last year to the salon in El Paso that Mary Ann dragged me to. But it seems I am now reduced to a number. As I walked into the small two man barbershop the barber says to me “a #2, uh mate?” I may be a bit follicly challenged, but only #2? Is this a worldwide standard? And do I have a new name – mate? Actually, you get referred to as mate everywhere. A very local part of the language, it seams.

To make sure we were on the same page, I did suggest my hair be cut to about 3/8 of an inch and the barber said “aye, aye, aye mate, a number 2.” While cutting (shearing?) my hair I chatted with him about now knowing a lot about sheep shearing, which was similar to my hair cut. He said if I wanted, he could grab me around the neck, throw me on the floor with a knee on my chest, and then if I didn’t behave properly he would whack me a couple of times on the head. Another language quirk you hear frequently, is when there is agreement with something, the Kiwi says “aye, aye, aye” very quickly. I did survive the haircut, and as I predicted to Mary Ann it usually only takes 60 to 120 seconds!

I met Mary Ann at the i-Site, which is the visitor information center. The i-Sites are found in all the major towns of New Zealand and have turned out to be an excellent traveling resource. They not only have excellent brochures, pamphlets and maps for all the regions of the country but also can book you for tourist events. Yesterday we booked tickets on the TranzScenic train trip from Christchurch to Greymouth, which we will take next week. They were also able to give us information on changing the date of a reservation on the inter-islander ferry, which I had made weeks ago on the internet. If you are traveling in New Zealand I highly recommend the i-Site, particularly if you are driving. They are also very well signed so you can find them easily. Their website can help you find them wherever you are.

Now that I was looking so sharp, I was ready to attend another Rotary meeting. This was an evening meeting at the Harbour City Rotary, held at a hotel on the waterfront. Being always early, it looked like I would crash their Board Meeting, but I held off giving them advice. It is a small club (22) but seem to be active. Their major service project with a couple of other clubs is raising $125,000 NZ to buy an ambulance. New Zealand is a bit unusual in the ambulance area, as you subscribe to, and pay for, an ambulance service in your area. However Wellington is the only area in New Zealand that has a free ambulance service (and it says so on the back of their ambulances).

It is amazing how many of the Rotary programs match me in some way. The speaker was Tim Harding, the CEO of Care NZ, ( a drug treatment program. The match is with my court experience, I am not addicted to drugs! It was a very nice evening with interesting companions. One of the members reported on the three week visit of a Rotary cricket team from Ireland, who played Masters Teams throughout the island. Yikes! If they were as old as the guy making the report (who did play) it is important that they have a free ambulance service. On second thought, cricket is pretty laid back, kind of like bowling into your ‘80’s!

Quirky Living Note: Today I saw a T-shirt that seemed appropriate for Mary Ann: Shopping Will Continue Until Morale Improves.

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