Saturday, July 6, 2013

Morning Musings the First

So, in addition to all of the landmarks and history, there are some things I enjoy about traveling - those things that make me "broaden", I suppose.

I love getting to visit with people from other cultures; even if there's not enough time to develop a deep relationship, you can at least get a feel for some of their attitudes, opinions, and perspectives. Of course, few cultures are monolithic, and there is a wide spectrum of beliefs in any land, so if you're talking with someone from Portugal or Brazil or New Zealand, you're hearing the opinions of the "woman on the street" which probably doesn't represent anywhere near all of them. We always seem to have these little serendipitous encounters with folks who are not natives to our target country in our travels, and that's fun, as well.

I like to look, as well, at the artifacts and the methods in which we are all the same, versus those little differences from land to land. It may seem a small thing (unless you forgot to bring your power converter along), but just the difference between 110V AC 60Hz and 240V AC 50Hz power usage in our homes can produce nice surprises. When I visited Portugal a few years ago, I encountered electric tea kettles which heat up a pot of water in less time than it can be done in a microwave...and LOVED them! They're ubiquitous in New Zealand, as well, and I'm scheming how to get one home and to rewire my kitchen to accommodate one. Also, probably due to safety concerns with the higher household voltage, all the outlets have individual toggle switches - which can be a source of frustration for the unaware traveler; you might think your electric device is not working at all for a time.

It's fun to go to the grocery store and see those things which are familiar - one could call them global in scope - such as Coca Cola and Doritos, or surprisingly, Hunts Spaghetti/Pasta Sauces, and things that are either unique, or simply packaged differently or consumed in a different consistency or flavor (the word "flavor/flavour" is a good one). My wife remarked on the ketchup she found which is sold in a tube, just like toothpaste. There wasn't a can of tomato juice to be found in any grocery store in Portugal, while in New Zealand it is available, but has a much sweeter taste and nearly sauce-like consistency. I didn't see any produce here that was specifically marked, "organic", perhaps it's assumed to be here in eco-friendly Kiwi country, unless proven differently.

It was interesting to note as we strolled about Auckland the last couple of days that the young people, especially, seem to love American clothing. Hollister t-shirts, Chicago Bulls sweats, and a number of others were appeared to be the uniform de jour. The only All Blacks (the national rugby team) shirt I've seen so far was on a man at the museum.

One of our rules when we travel is that we are not allowed to eat in any restaurants that are U.S. based, such as Starbucks, KFC, McDonalds, and so forth. We try, best case, to find little hole in the wall places that the locals frequent, rather than heading to the popular tourist-fleecing establishments, and to eat local produce, cheeses, fruits, meats, fishes and beverages - family style and adult - whenever we have the choice. We have no desire to watch American Idol or Honey Boo Boo on TV here, but the NZ public television station has had some highly informative programs that tempt me to change our itinerary to explore some off the beaten track places. Subway seems to have the sandwich franchise for Auckland CBD - they're everywhere. Perhaps the temptation for a touch of the familiar will assault me at the end of our journey, but it hasn't hit yet, if ever.

More musings another morning, if I'm feeling giddy.


Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing your travels! Wish I'd done this last year when we went to the Baltics. Keep your posts coming! Oh and have a great time....

marsha said...

You are picking up on some of the same things we did in the Cook Islands who are connected to NZ in some way. Many of the visitors there were either from NZ or Australia. Everywhere we went kids had USA brand logos on their clothing...and one of our favorite things to do is talk to other travelers and locals - see where they are from and where they've been. Just talking to them really expands your horizons. I have a hard time with people who have no interest in traveling. Life is too short to sit back and not smell the roses. Sounds like you are having a great time in Kiwi-land.