Chris' 1994  R100GS/PDChris' new bike, a 1996 F650ULTIMATE JOURNEY Erin's 1997  F650
Living a Dream . . . 2 Live-N-Ride

Aug 11, 2001

Friends, Spanish Lessons, and the All Blacks

-- Story by Chris --

After Winter Festival, we had another few weeks here in Queenstown – plenty of time to see our friends, have many dinners together, do some more hiking, and catch all the sites of the area. Where has all the time gone to?

Wednesday, July 25th: It’s 6pm and the doorbell rings. "Hola" says Suzanne, our Spanish teacher who has come for our private, 90-minute lesson ($25/hr ~US$11). Suzanne is also a traveller, she’s English and is a certified high school teacher for Spanish and French. We had signed up for Spanish lessons at one of the local language schools (mostly teach English to Japanese students), but in the final hour they couldn’t get a class together with the minimum required 3 students. We pleaded our case to the school, and they graciously got us together with their instructor (Suzanne), to arrange private lessons for cash. Our friend Deike decided to join us, so the 3 of us split the cost. We saved money, and got 7 private lessons at our place!!

Me llamo Chris, y me mujer se llama Erin.

Nosotros hablamos espanol muy bien.

¿Donde está el garaje por las motos?

¿Tienes un habitacion por dos personas?

Thursday, July 26th: Bill and Lillian McHugh, our close friends from New York City, arrive at Queenstown airport. Last time we saw them was 3 days before we left New York, only 831 days ago! Bill got transferred to Bloomberg’s Hong Kong office last Xmas, so he and Lillian are on this side of the globe for another 18 months. Bill finagled a business trip to Auckland, got Lillian a ticket using frequent flyer mileage, then they paid a small fortune to fly down to Queenstown for 5 days with us. The weekend was a little blurry, as they came bearing gifts of duty-free alcohol J

Bill and Lillian, thinking about jumping off the Kawara Bridge

Bill and I, thinking about boarding off some cliffs.....

Saturday, July 28th: Erin brought Lillian and Bill down to watch the rugby match I was refereeing, or was it Bill who dragged the girls down?!   My match was followed by an NPC warm-up match between Otago and Southland. There are 14 provincial teams that make up the National Provincial Championships. Players from the NPC compete for selection on the All Blacks.

That night we had a gathering of about 10 friends at the Lone Star restaurant in town. Among other things, we were there to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary, and day 800 of our journey. The table for 12 we were promised 45 minutes after we arrived did not come available for 2 hours. This meant we were waiting in the bar, passing time and ordering a seemingly continuous flow of drinks. The restaurant thankfully sent us some nibbles (on the house) after about an hour and a half, to help absorb some of the alcohol intake. We were finally seated around 10pm, and more drinks were ordered along with the food. The music was great, as was entertainment provided by an Elvis impersonating waiter. By 10:30 p.m., we had our half of the restaurant singing along to the golden oldies the jukebox was cranking out.

The "peis de resistance" was at the end of the meal, when Bill arranged for an anniversary cake to be brought to the table. The awful tune from every American wedding was sung (the bride cuts the cake, the bride cuts the cake...). Erin and I proceeded to feed each other, and sure enough, my face was covered in chocolate moose cake! Not to leave our friends out, our fair-skinned housemate Sharlene looked quite tan when I was finished with her J

Monday, July 30: We rose early, and took the McHughs back to the airport. We’ve gotten used to not seeing our old friends, making it extra hard to say good-bye. We plan to see each other back in New York for Christmas of 2002.

Thursday, August 9th: We pack our warm weather gear, and head down to Dunedin for the Bledisloe Cup (rugby) weekend – this is one of the biggest matches of the season, between Australia and New Zealand.  Accommodation is booked out months in advance, and Roger Hogg, knowing this, offered us a place in his home. We met Roger in June back at the Brass Monkey (freeze your b***s off) rally. We arrived at Roger and Judy Hogg’s place in the afternoon, and settled right in.

When we met Roger, he was riding a Yamaha XT600. As he’s getting older, he would like more comfort, and has opted for a new BMW R1150GS. He didn’t tell us, rather he left it in the garage for us to find – Good on ya, mate! The Hoggs live in a suburb of Dunedin, but it’s hard to believe what they’ve done with their one acre backyard: Huge vegetable garden, fruit & nut trees, half an acre of pine (for winter burning wood), 30 egg producing hens, several bee hives, and a couple of sheep to breed and keep the grass down. They make their own bread (no machine), and are almost entirely self-sufficient. Want carrots with your meal? Just go an pick ‘em out of the ground! Judy said most visitors are very impressed with their lifestyle. Their 15-23 yr. old kids aren’t so sure, as they’re the ones who generally have to go pick the veggies, check for insects, and do the cleaning and peeling. They look enviously at people who just go to a shop and buy clean veggies. …..Ah, the grass is always greener on the other side J

Friday, August 10th: Through the local rugby society, I scored 4 tickets to the sold-out match. Included in the NZ$40 ticket price were free tickets to the Friday night NPC match. The other two tickets went to our friends from Christchurch, Tom & Kirstin. They rode down on Friday afternoon, and we had a good night watching Otago beat North Harbor (Team from Auckland area) in the NPC match. We didn’t stay out late; as we wanted to save ourselves for the big match the following day.

Saturday, Aug 11th: We woke early, and I was excited. The Aussies were playing better ball lately, but we were playing at home. Yes, "we" – we’ve always rooted for the All Blacks! Besides, I’m an official New Zealand Referee!!! Anyway, the All Blacks hadn’t lost to the Wallabies in The House of Pain in almost 100 years.

No, it's not us

Kick-off was scheduled at 2:35 in the afternoon, but there would be an Under 19 curtain raiser match between NZ and England starting at 12:30. We had Terrace Seating, which means we were in the main stands, but there are no seats, and no awning. The point is to crowd a huge number of fans together, standing on wide concrete steps. Fans paint their faces, drink, and cheer for the duration of the game. The rest of the stadium is filled with normal seating (and normal people?). As this is "general seating", we arrived early to get a good spot.

The opening match was terrific, and NZ won by a huge margin. It was an exciting game, which showed that some of the young NZ boys had the potential to one day be stars on the All Blacks. As 2 p.m. approached, the terraces became more and more crowded. Everyone was in a great mood – it didn’t hurt that you could buy 6-packs of Speights beer at the stadium. We don’t normally drink THAT much, but today was kind of special J

Tom & Kirstin

We were given large black cards, which had the National Anthem printed on the back. The first half is in Maori, the second in English. One of the great things about NZ is how the indigenous people, the Maori, are integrated within the society. Sure, there can be some major differences, and the Maori tend to have more socio-economic problems then the Europeans (white people), but at least the Kiwis try to make the dividing line fuzzy and grey.

E Ihowa Atua
O nga Iwi Matou ra
Ata Whakarongona
Me aroha noa
Kia hua ko to pai
Kia tau to atawhai
Manaakitia mai

God of nations at thy feet
In the bonds of love we meet
Hear our voices we entreat
God defend our free land.
Guard Pacific's triple star
From the shafts of strife and war
Make her praises heard afar
God defend New Zealand

The game began, and the Blacks scored the first try within the first minute. I love being around rugby as an American. Yes, the sport is in its infancy back in the states, but we’re not limited to knowledge of "grid iron" (football), baseball, and basketball. I asked some guy selling rugby paraphernalia how much he wanted for a T-shirt. With my accent, it wasn’t hard for him to guess I was American, and he asked me (very politely) if I knew what the game of rugby was. I thought I’d take the piss out of him (make a joke) and asked if it was similar to Soccer, but with a different shaped ball. He rolled his eyes in that "damn foreigner" way. Next I told him that I played rugby for 12 years, refereed for 3, and that I’m a certified rugby referee in the local province of Otago. He smiled sheepishly, and admitted that I probably knew heaps more about the game then he did.

The HAKA:  A Maori war challange/dance the All Blacks perform to the opponents, before each match.

Anyway, we were having a great time in the stands. Within minutes, the fans grouped around us were asking me to explain the calls the referee was making. Not trying to brag here, just sharing the good feeling I was having – OK, the beers we shared didn’t hurt either. We had a fantastic afternoon, but alas, the day went to the visitors. Our guys played very flat, and Australia’s defense was good.

After the match, we met up with a bunch of other friends, and continued our party into the evening. Going to the match, for me, was one of the highlights of our trip.

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