Sunday, March 6, 2016

Valentine's Day Earthquake and Aftershocks

Although there is not much in the way of "New Zealand cuisine" to serve visitors, we have taken to buying a few products that we have found to be unique to New Zealand, or at least tastier versions of what you would normally buy in the U.S. Unfortunately, a lot of them are full of sugar!
  • L&P soda, a lemon-y kind of ginger ale
  • Fresh Belgian chocolate milk (like drinking a luscious chocolate bar)
  • Honey (most famous is manuka, but other flavors are unique because of the trees in the area)
  • Hokey pokey ice cream (hokey pokey is just caramelized sugar pieces, but it is so good)
  • Whittaker's chocolate (amazingly good chocolate with no additives)
  • General dairy items like full fat cheese, milk, and cream
  • Gold kiwis (sweeter and much easier to eat than green kiwi fruit)

Our car failed its recent Warrant of Fitness (WOF) test so had to be taken in for repairs. We opted to go to a AA shop this time (similar to AAA) and I felt a lot better than some of the other places we've taken it to. Unfortunately, while attending the Asian Noodle Market and Sparks fireworks in Hagley Park, someone(s) decided to break into our car parked in a residential area and steal the new Bluetooth speaker in the glove box. Thankfully, I had taken everything else out before our trip to Australia, so that's all the jerks found. A lot of the police were managing the park, so I assume people thought it was a prime time to go around to all of the hundreds of cars parked around the area. I reported it to the police for statistical purposes, but since our car's speakers finally gave out, now we have no means of playing music or audiobooks in the car.

There have been a few summer days hot enough for us to turn on the A/C for the first time since we've been here (the heat pump is also an A/C). Since it isn't terribly expensive to have it on for a few hours, we have chosen not to suffer when the house gets up to 26-28 C (79-82 F) and turn it on occasionally. What can I say? Americans like their comfort.

I stumbled upon an expat migrant website for New Zealand where people who used to live here detail their negative experiences and warn others that NZ isn't all it's cracked up to be. It's nice to know you're not alone, but we still have a ways left here, so I don't think I'll dwell on that site. I also went to a training session at school where a Pasifika woman gave a presentation on how different island cultures look at the world differently, and that this often impacts how they can fit into a society and university built on an independent, autonomous, and individualistic way of operating. She said that their cultures value interdependence and caring about others before yourself, and that studying for an exam alone and having to push aside concern for anything currently happening with your friends or family just isn't right to them. It was a lot of food for thought and made me think what a loss it is that these kinds of worldviews are considered less than and not shared with the dominant culture, which could use more compassion and empathy in many of its relationships, from business to family ones.

Valentine's Day Earthquakes

But the big news around here has been the Valentine's Day earthquake and aftershocks. The first one hit around 1:30pm and was a 5.8 off the coast of Christchurch and shook the house for quite a while (in quake terms, I'd say it was about 10-15 seconds). We had been in the kitchen cleaning out the pantry and our cat bolted into the bedroom and went under the bed, staying there all day. Then there were aftershocks, then lulls about every hour. There was even one while I was just falling asleep. Can’t escape them! I was quite scared and just when I would be settling down, another one would come. Most were off the coast which is not far from where we live in the east, so we really felt them. I just don’t feel safe in this country with their poor infrastructure. The earthquake was big enough to hit international news. The cliffs in Sumner had some falling sides and kicked up a ton of dust, so of course that was what made the news. There were 83 quakes on Valentine's Day alone.

Earthquake knocked second layer of books off shelf
The rest of the week we had aftershocks that we could feel at least once a day. While we were at an open-air Shakespeare play of Hamlet, there was another one, and it was the first time I had been sitting on grass during an earthquake. Admittedly, it was a lot less scary because you're outside and it feels like a rumble but you don't have a creaky house making all sorts of noises to put you in panic mode. But just as the aftershocks had finally stopped for a few days, there was another big one (4.3) that woke most of the city up at 3:30am on February 29th. It's hard to get back to sleep when your adrenaline kicks in. I can definitely see why people left the city and were tired of putting up with all of the commotion.
Open-air performance of Hamlet

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