Subject: Walkin' Auckland
Date: Sun, 22 Sep 2002 09:20:14 +0000
From: "-= Audacious Adventurer Al =- "
September 22, 2002 7:50PM... Auckland, New Zealand

Zzzzzzzzz! Zzzzz! Oh, hi - it's me - Allen, fighting off my jet lag. It's a mellow 50 degree night here in Auckland and man, am I pooped! Are you ready to read about my opening weekend in Auckland? I think you'll find it rather (ahem) interesting... (whew), I just gassed off some of my Indian food dinner here at this Internet cafe - that poor girl behind me - yikes!

First, I'd like to share my opening impression of New Zealand after three full days. In one word: JEWEL Folks, let me tell you - IRELAND and NEW ZEALAND have major similarities as far as nature, climate, and friendly people are concerned. If you know how I romanticize my year in Ireland, I have a feeling that my experience here in New Zealand is going to beat it hands down!

Let's talk weather! Like Ireland, New Zealand is showery island. I froze my butt off the first day leaving warm Philly for windy wet Auckland. Interestingly, there's lots of people here running around with t-shirts and short shorts on while I was freezing my keester off with my jacket on! Nonetheless, I have adjusted nicely on this fine day number three and I'm actually finding the climate quite lovely! It's getting up to around 60 degrees in the daytime and there's been only one shower since day one. THE SKY IS BLUE HERE - I mean really blue. Not the USA smog gray-blue. You probably don't believe me, but I just love staring at the sky! It's remarkable! Consequently, the air quality is good here folks - really good.

Being the footacular runner that I am, I am impressed being in what I would call RUNNER COUNTRY! They're everywhere! Young, middle age, and elderly - the runners are not bashful here. Morning, afternoon, night... stomp, stomp, stomp! yeah! There's running advertisements all over the place. "Take it outside" is Nike's running shoe slogan at the moment. I'm sure they wouldn't shout "Run Forest Run" here like the do to me in the USA. Last week in Philly some young fool shouted that at me while I was running...

Generally, I've been exploring the 'burbs around Auckland and all of the state parks. There's a posh suburb called Ponsonby where I spent some hours Saturday people-watching and reading at public parks....

Speaking of public things, Auckland has more free open public toilets than I've ever seen. You don't have to worry about waiting too long to do your duty because you're never too far from the loo! Interestingly, a lot of people are adventurous in Kiwi public bathrooms. I've smelt marijuana, saw scattered clothing on the tiles, saw booze bottles, and (ahem) other party equipment. Don't totally get the wrong idea; I've visited many public bathrooms many have been spotless!

So what have a been doing? Silly rabbit, I've been out dancing and meeting Kiwi's (New Zealand citizens)! I wrote an email to Michele, head of Auckland's swing scene and she totally used me in her endorsement of Saturday night's swing dance. The big international dance, as she called it, was fun! The swing dance scene here has about 15-25 hard core dancers with no clicks. Thus, I danced with every girl at the event. To my delight, I was invited out afterwards for some late night fun!

Today I did some more exploring and went to a place in my guidebook called Circus Circus. I'm thinking: cool - this place is going to be like LAS VEGAS. I'll treat myself to brunch and watch free circus acts. Well, the only entertainment I and the host got was my failure to understand my guidebook! The only trapeze artists were the miniatures hanging from the ceiling! OOPS - my bad . . . The host comforted and chuckled with me sharing that others have made the same mistake, so it wasn't all bad!

I went across the street to a bakery and hiked to the destination of my third picnic in Auckland: Mount Eden, the highest point in the city. There's a huge crater at the summit that looks like a meteor forged a giant hole! Wicked! Dormid volcanoes are cool!

After all that climbing my feet were killing me. I was going to keep a low profile, but there was another kind of dancing at the Ceroc Studio starting at 4 that the swingers told me about the night before. I was just casually walking by the studio, then I decided to poke my head in and check it out, then I met my Asian buddy from the night before, then the music grabbed me and guess what? I wound up staying and dancing for the whole thing.

Want to hear about Ceroc dancing? It's a mix of swing and salsa and a whole bunch of other stuff... but basically it's a SEXY dance, opposed to asexual swing. I was timid at first, but my Asian buddy encouraged me repeatedly to go out and play. Let's just say I've never danced closely so much and with so many hot Kiwi or any girls my whole life. Close dancing, better known as grinding, is something I feel uncomfortable and intimidated about doing, but man, if I could go to this class and dance every Sunday, N-Sync, would say "Bye Bye Bye" to my intimidation. How could something that feels so good be so bad? I probably was blushing with a red face the entire time. I know it is just a dance and it is great the kiwis feel safe with me, but this is foreign territory for me in more ways than one.

Afterwards, I was invited out to an Irish pub with a group of Kiwi dancers. We talked about adventuring and made fun of George W. Eventually, we wound up eating Indian food! After Curran and Lee's enthusiasm, it was a downer to share that I couldn't come to the Auckland or Melbourne Lindy (swing dance) Exchanges where we'd get to meet again. The sad part about traveling is the good people you meet come and go.

That brings me here back on my own again in backpacker world. Tomorrow or Tuesday I'll be heading south to explore more beauty on the North Island!

Had enough of me? I hope you found something interesting in all garble! I know the people in this Internet cafe has had enough of me cutting the cheese!

Here's some teasers for my next email: Skydiver Al
Bungee Boy Rue - doing the A.J. Hackett Bungee trilogy! 3 jumps - 3 locations: 47m, 42m, and 128m high!

The US:NZ dollar ratio is 1:2.13 - Thus, I will splurge badly by tandem skydiving and bungeeing 3 times for less than $160 USD! The way I see it, I only live once and this is the cheapest opportunity I'd imagine I'd ever encounter!

So, if I LIVE, you'll here from me again next week!

Skydiver Al :)

"Stupid is what stupid does" - Forrest Gump

You've got a friend in . . .
| Allen Rue - travelling extraordinaire - joy seeker          |