Wakeup call was at 7:30, eventually got up and made it to the ~8am breakfast. At breakfast, got told all the guys were to meet in our room. Turns out that last night at the Mexican place some folks got into a bit of trouble, but according to their story (which sounds reasonable) the hotel blew it all out of proportion, and they handled themselves well. Anyway, that was settled, no trouble.
At 9am we got onto the busses to travel to a "Thermal Wonderland", where we saw lots of boiling mud, sinkholes and sulphur deposits. Rather nice, but not massively fascinating. Say my first Geyser, the Lady Knox Geyser. Was quite impressive, and got a number of pictures. From here, we returned to the hotel, and were tossed loose for lunch. Went to Warehouse, which is the NZ equivalent of Wal-Mart, and bought some sunscreen, which I should have immediately applied, but didn't. Got lunch at the Pak'n'Save, a box of crackers and 1/4 kg of cheese, and small chocolate milk. Just like working at Bedichek...
At 1:45 we posed for a group photo, and then got on the busses to go Zorbing. Zorbing is where you (and two other people, if you wish) climb into a giant double-wall plastic ball, which is on top of a slope, and then after being wetted down inside are rolled down the hill. It's tremendous fun, absolutely awesome, and gives you the opportunity to be sliding around in a confined space with water and girls in swimsuits. 0:-)
I recommend it for everyone, just about. Before we arrived we were a bit afraid of just what it was, but once we saw it was much better.
After this, we got some paperwork in order with our leaders, and then I just hung around and sorted music in my collection. At 6:50 we went out to assemble for (other) busses to the Tamaki Maori Villiage, where we were greated in a traditional Maori manner (challenged to a fight), given a display of traditional ways, treated to an amazing concert of Maori music and dance, and finally given a buffet feast. I bought a CD in their gift shop, and the music at the concert was just amazing. Really fast and energetic, way cool.
The bus driver we had was absolutely hilarious. On the way out he taught people "Kia Ora", which is Maori for "Be in Good Health", and is used for "Hello", "I understand", etc. He then proceeded to translate it into 48 different languages, and assured us if we didn't get the concept yet, there was something wrong with us. There was also the need to select a chief, who needed to be "Handsome, Tall, Strong, Rich, Wise and a Rugby Player", thus exemplifying the six traits of perfect manhood. However, as he understood we weren't New Zealanders and couldn't be expected to match up to their average man, he'd only require 3 of them. There was one rugby player on the bus (from England) and so he was selected, though I'd have volunteered otherwise. :-)
After some not quite friendly back and forth about England v. All Blacks he was confirmed as chief.
On the way back, Paul (driver)demanded that our chief, Dale, sing a song, and he chose "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot". Paul insisted that Dale was walking home with that choice. He also demanded we Americans sing the Star Spangled Banner, which Tara, Jess and I did most of the singing for. He also got Archie to sing an Indian song, and did amazing accents trying to elicit Welsh, English, Scottish, Pakistani, and other songs. I did join in on "Cockles an' Mussles", but he may not have noticed. He's just amazing with languages. He also made us sing "Wheels on the Bus", while honking on that verse, standing up on the "people go up and down" verse, tossed in a "The driver of the bus has no license" verse and so forth. Then he started circling a traffic circle while singing "Here we go round a Mulberry bush". After dropping off people at one hotel on the other side of the street, he drove on the right side of the road for a little bit because he "felt like an American". Then he asked everyone who didn't have a wonderful time to raise their hand, and at the same time opened the door. Actually, the door opened a number of times while driving. I loved this guy. If you ever go to Rotorua and go to the Tanaki Villiage, try to get on Paul Short's bus. (the name Short is from County Cork, he's got a nice simple 47 letter Maori name he tried to teach us on the way out.)
Oh yeah, he gave us an amazing Haka on our way out. Eyes rolled, tongue out, really scary.
Now back, the other roomies went out again, and so I've typed this up till 11:07. Now I'm going to hit the sack, pray my sunburn doesn't worsen overnight and prep to leave. I've been asked by Jane to ride along with the Wellington group to Rotorua airport and help with the luggage. We're hauling the Otago big luggage along with the Wellington folks because we dismiss the bus after that, and are getting there ourselves some other way. With all this porter work, I'm sure if I get into any trouble Jane'll move heaven and earth to get me cleared. :-)
Good night, and hope you're all well.
Ahh, the end of Orientation.
This morning we had another breakfast at the hotel, then hustled our Otago luggage onto a coach, and put the Wellington luggage on the other. Then we drove at 9am to Rotorua Regional Airport, where the 7 Wellington students embarked and we dropped off the Otago luggage for storing until we arrived. Then the dreaded weight limit set in.
Each passenger is permitted 32kg of luggage checked, plus a 7kg carry-on. There was one pair of girls who included in their luggage an 18kg carry on, and checked luggage to match. After much repacking, giving one bag to another student, etc, they were let off without being charged a NZ$75 fee by Air New Zealand. Then on the drive back, Jane received a call on her cell phone. We were expected by Air New Zealand to have maybe 340kg of luggage for the Otago student's flight. We had around 700kg. And to think I'd been lifted all that in and out of the coaches these past 4 days... So they stuffed some of it on the flights to Wellington before ours, and the rest they were going to put on a truck to Auckland, where it could be loaded on a bigger plane. (Rotorua is a Very small airfield.) Arriving back, I just hung around till quarter to 12, when we assembled and were taken in small vans to Rotorua airport for our flight. Tara thought she'd checked her tickets, but it turned out after she'd made arrangements that she had them after all. I had to check my small backpack, but that was no worry outside of meaning I had no CDs with me at all. Flight was bumpy, and the Wellington runway is quite exciting, right on the coast. Then a very quick change to a (delayed) Dunedin flight, and another ~1.5 hour flight to there. Arriving in Dunedin around 5:40, we found that some few of our bags were present, including my large suitcase. My black rolling suitcase was nowhere to be found, as was some of many other people's, and all of a few, including Maura. We filed lost luggage claims for all the missing ones, and took a waiting shuttle to the University. There we were given our flat keys, and then returned to the shuttle to go to our flat. Jill arrived at 505b Great King, discovered it was the bottom floor of a nice looking house, and that even better yet our roommate Alex was present. She said that she hadn't been able to clean much at all, but it didn't look too terrible to me. We'll see how things go. Sarah S is temporarily in the flat 2 doors down, and many of us went out to eat and shop for necessities at Warehouse (q.v.). There was also Jennifer, who is Sarah's flatmate and is from Ottawa, at (Queen's College?). She's an economics major and seems cool. Also brought was Justin, somebody's flatmate but he left us after giving directions to Warehouse. Vanessa was also assigned temporary housing, on Butts Rd, which is in the middle of nowhere and apparently a real dump of a place. She brought her flatmate Floris, who is a German fellow doing a 1 year post-bach degree. He and I talked quite a bit on the way to Warehouse and back, and seems quite the cool fellow. At Warehouse I bought a towel, because sheets and so had been left by the room's former occupant, Rebecca. I also (at 7:30) called the Dunedin Abrahams-Youards, and got a nice conversation with Phillipa in. We agreed to meet for supper tomorrow, and that sounds very nice. However, I don't have the shirts I brought for the boys of the family, so I might have to only bring their letter, chili, and her CD. However, around 11pm there was a knock at our door, and Jill got her other suitcase delivered, so perhaps mine will come tomorrow and all will be well. I'd be most disappointed to lose all those DVDs and CDs and clothes, though the last can be easily replaced.
At the close of the night Alex played a track by her favorite band, Eight, which is a NZ local. Then Jill played the Iron Maiden song "In A Gadda Da Vida", and I played "Canada is Really Big" and "Carrot Juice is Murder". The Arrogant Worms are the first thing I'd introduce people to about me musically, but my Bards, Flying Fish and Heather Alexander CDs are in the black, AWOL, bag.
Now it's 12:31 AM, and I don't think anybody wants 6:30am phone calls, so I'll end here. Perhaps I can post tomorrow.
Saturday was spent doing not all that much. I went out and walked around the University a bit, and then settled down to wait to be picked up by my uncle Cliff, who came by (90 minutes late, and thus an object of concern to me). We drove together to his house in the Northeast Valley, where Son #1 was at a Magic: The Gathering game night (said to be a very big affair, with special packs and cards being surreptitiously shipped in from all over the country and some amount of money decided on the outcome. Son #3 was at Scout Camp, where Cliff had been, but Son #2, his friend Hamish, and Cliff's Brother in Law and BiL's wife (is that too a SiL?) were around as well, with their (9th grade?) daughter Elizabeth, and of course Cliff's wife. So the 5 of us (#2 Ryan and Hamish were on the computer or XBox most of the time) had a nice dinner of Shepherd's Pie, with a (zucchini?) cake for dessert. (They were using an unfamiliar term for the vegetable involved, but that's what I think it was.)
We agreed that all the boys, Cliff and I will go to the Cricket game tomorrow after school, where the New Zealand Black Caps play South Africa in a multi-city series here in NZ. So far NZ is ahead 2-1, but who knows. I might even understand what's going on. Don't recall anything particular about the night, probably just talked to Alex and Jill.
Sunday was a little more active. Tara stopped by around 11:30, before I'd gotten out of bed, but Jill was already out and about, so Alex let her bang on my door and demand my presence. After I got dressed, we went grocery shopping for Tara, who lacks a microwave, a telephone, and non-alcoholic flatmates. Anyway, Alex the dear drove us to the store and back, but had to go to work, so Tara and I went down to the Meridian Mall, where we searched in some vain for the $2 Store, before eventually finding it after asking for directions 3 times. However, K-Mart (in the mall) had somewhat nicer things, so we bought everything but the ice tray there. Walked on home, with me doing most of the carrying. :-) Tara intended to take a nap, but had gotten Alex to promise to pick her up on the way home from work. As it turned out, she slept through Alex's stopping by, so Jill, Alex and I more or less watched Shrek, once I got my Powerbook hooked up to the TV. This may save a fair amount of money on hiring videos, at least for a while. Nearer 6 than 4:30, Tara turned up. Jill and Tara went to church at 7, and then the lot of us, plus Alex's friends Alan and (?) went to see Lost in Translation. I thought it wasn't a waste of time, but I'm not very attached to it as a movie. Jill and I walked home while the others crammed into the car, and had a talk about where we stood. She thinks I don't think much of her, and that she doesn't like my negativity. I tried to explain how I and downfalls went as an example of things not being what they might seem, but she professed totally confusion. This may be a large problem point in the future.
Monday was spent registering. Got up around 9:30, left around 10. Went to Housing Office, made an appointment to sign my tenancy agreement tomorrow at 2. Went to International Office, got directions. Stood in a very slow line to get my insurance and visa checked. Then stood in a shorter and slightly faster line to pickup my course approval form, which then had to be signed by all departments concerned, and turned back in, both of which required lines of various size. All around registration took me 3 hours, compared to 15-20 minutes at home. Then there was an even longer line, maybe 40+ minutes, to get my ID card, which also got me my email account and computer login, as well as library access. :-D I immediately spent an hour deleting junk mail, read one vital message, and then went in search of food, having not had breakfast. Had a nice chili & cheese pie and got a 330ml Vanilla Coke, which had a "Free 600ml" prize within the bottle. Best $1.90 I've ever spent. After this, dropped stuff at the flat, ran into Alex, speculated a bit more on out missing flatmate, and then went off to setup a bank account. They want proof of residence, so I'll return tomorrow after signing my tenancy agreement. Went reading Ars, rejoining my mailing lists, and Bujold archive prowling instead, until 6:30. Returned home, to discover the long sought after other flatmate, Dan, had arrived! He seems quite cool, a geology major, and is now off tomorrow on a bloody 5 day field trip. Anyway, Jill went out, then Alex returned, so we drove downtown to do some grocery shopping for the two of us (well, mostly me) and get some dinner. We ate in a little place called Metro, and I have another nice Pale Ale, although I'm still fondest of Tui so far. Came home, Jill was back, so we all sat around and talked for an hour and a half or more. Decided to go to bed all around, and I sat to catch up my writing as of 11:57 or so, and it's now 12:21.