Our new life in New Zealand – 4.November 1999
We are very happy to live in New Zealand now, after two years of paperwork, English tests, hundreds of translated documents and a long, long flight with three month old baby Henry in a bassinette. After two weeks it still seems like a dream. I feel a bit like an adventurer, stranded on a lonely island. Everything is new, we don’t understand a lot or it doesn’t make any sense to us (because we are foreigners, I guess). You just have to be open to different habits and ways of thinking. I thought my English was good, especially after succeeding the necessary IELTS Test, but now I have the feeling I don’t understand anything, not the news on TV and not the people either. They talk so fast and with a strong accent, that my brain is just not working fast and flexible enough. While I still think about the first three words, the speaker has finishing his third sentence. But we try our best and persevere and every day we learn new words and sayings. Yesterday I learned that power steer is not a raging bull, but part of a vehicle. I am optimistic and I think in 20 to 30 years I will definitely be able to have a proper conversation with a real person again.
Unfortunately I still can’t send e-mails to my friends in Germany, because we have a modem now, but still no software to use it. The software is on a CD, but the computer doesn’t have a CD drive and therefore we have to go on using the mysterious fax machine, which not only sends faxes, but works as a phone, answering machine, cash register, steam iron and electric tooth brush at the same time. If somebody sends me a fax, the voice on the answering machine asks them to wait until it has finished to clean two dentures, to iron 37 shirts and to finalize the GST report, before it can receive their fax! But the most annoying point is that I have no idea in which sequence this machine from hell works, and every 5 minutes it starts beeping like mad and I don’t know why and how to stop it.
Yesterday morning I took a deep breath and at 7.30 in the morning, I put on my brand new sneakers and ran to the beach, which is only 2 minutes away from the cottage we rented. It was wonderfully warm, lonely and quiet there. I got a lot of fresh air! But unfortunately I didn’t make it very far, because my condition suits more an old kitchen trolley than an enthusiastic pioneer woman on a mission to discover new continents. Here in New Zealand you find many wonderful and lonely beaches. It is very romantic. If only I were young, beautiful, rich, desired and freshly in love… My last walk to the beach with little Henry in his pram was not so romantic, because as soon as we reached the beach, he started screaming like mad. Luckily we were the only people at the beach. The moment we came back home, he laughed his head off. He must have learned that behavior from his dad, who also wants to go home as fast as he can, if anything doesn’t work for him or he feels like there is too much bacteria at one place!
Last night Henry invented lots of new noises, after which Bernie and me put together a one-hour-life show to keep the baby in a good mood. Henry had lots of fun, sticky water came running out of his mouth and he enjoyed spitting and laughing at us. And then finally I smelled that very strong smell and we had to change his nappy. Henry also likes TV and he seems to be the only one in the family who understands anything. He tries to talk to the people on the screen and at least he sees some faces other than Mum and Dad, as we still don’t know anybody in New Zealand.
Little Henry is constipated again and he produces small balls, you could easily use to play table tennis or in a slingshot to get sparrows off the tree. That reminds me of the birds nesting and raising young ones in our gutter. They look like sparrows to me (having no clue about wildlife and plants), they are big, black and have a yellow beak. (later I learned that these are Blackbirds, not sparrows) If Bernie is outside on the deck smoking a cigarette, the birds sit on the TV aerial to watch him and then they scream so loud, that you could hear it in Auckland City. Our terrace must be exactly in their starting and landing zone and the bird poo starts to pile up on the wooden deck. Maybe we have to wait until their young ones leave the nest, before we can sit on the peacefully on the deck, otherwise the droppings will land on our heads or on our BBQ sausages or the Blackbirds’ worms land on my plate.
Bernie is now proud owner of an old Nissan station wagon, and it took him the whole day in gleaming sunlight to clean the car. He cleaned from back to front, from top to bottom, inside and outside (there is nearly no white paint left…). He polished the rims and scrubbed the windows, so that it looks like the glass is missing. Well done! My neighbour had some fun behind the curtains, too. I am sure, she is wondering about the strange habits in our home country. Here in New Zealand a car seems only to be used as a tool to get from one place to another. I haven’t seen anybody else cleaning their cars yet. Maybe it is prohibited and we didn’t know, and maybe next time Bernie will land up in jail, or will be send back to Germany, or he will be sentenced to work in a quarry for the rest of his life…
Henry wants to sit on his own now, but unfortunately his back muscles are not strong enough yet and so he still falls down every time he tries. If I help him, he looks like a little Buddha observing his surroundings, (the world must look very different sitting upright) and he loves it. He smiles from ear to ear with no hair and no teeth. If we have dinner, he lies in his pram next to the table and shows off his wind problems. As soon as I change his nappy, he pees in it to mark his territory. I really seem to have a problem with these New Zealand nappies, as everything comes out at the back after a few minutes. Or maybe it is Henry’s personal sprinkler technique, which extensively increases the un-ecological and un-economical usage of these civilization materials. I remember and I start missing the good old German air, gas and water tight nappies from the supermarket.
To be continued…
(c) Beate Minderjahn