Monday, January 11, 2010

Where in the World are Grandma and Grandpa?

In Auckland, New Zealand, as it turns out:

My parents are on the trip of their lives, traveling west around the globe until July (assuming that they have not killed each other by then, of course... heh heh). And the cool thing is, they're reporting in here periodically, so that we can have an awesome virtual field trip! Here's my Mom, writing about New Zealand:

So far the countryside is absolutely fabulous! We drove down the east coast from Whitianga to Turangi this morning - the highways - not the backroads! - through the mountains are like ski runs - I had to make Dad stop twice so I could get my stomach settled. But I'm going to get over it - there's no way I'm not getting around this country! The mountains look like the farm in Babe! Was that filmed in NZ? Sheep and cattle on these steep grassy hills - I was laughing this morning remembering what Dad told you guys when you were little - when we saw cows on the sides of steep hills he told you those cows had shorter legs on one side!! These animals must!

When they left here, from the East coast, a few Sundays ago, we had trouble figuring out what time it would be in New Zealand when they landed - they flew across the international dateline causing us to wonder, if they flew for twenty-some hours, would they land on Monday, or Tuesday their local time? I must be honest, I still haven't figured this out. But Ben came across a great web site, World Time, so now at least we have a visual - see in the sidebar over there?

My Dad gave me the best time-tip yet: "To change from Eastern Standard Time to New Zealand time, subtract six hours from current East coast time - and then, add 24 hours because it's really tomorrow here." Easy, right?

My folks have seen some amazing sights this week. They attended a Maori meal, in which they became members of The Tribe of All Nations, about 150 visitors to New Zealand who went and met with the Maori Nation for dinner. Here are a few pics of the Maori, sent by my Mom:

She says, "[Here are] two tattooed Maori warriors. Their faces are done with paint these days, but back only 50 years ago these face decorations were carved right into the men's (warriors) skin." This next picture represents fifty-five hours of tattooing:

I can tell you that the 3X4 inch tattoo I have on my lower leg took an excruciating one hour and twenty minutes. But fifty-five hours, my goodness!

In all seriousness, my parents' trip has sparked an interest in learning more about the Maori, a tough, proud people with a rich culture and history. Here is a Wikipedia entry about them, and if anyone knows of any good books for children on Maori culture, or history, or both, please let me know!

Here's a pic of the New Zealand national bird, the Kiwi:

You just can't talk about New Zealand in our house without bringing up Peter Jackson's amazing film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. (No, the boys haven't seen it yet, but they've heard the story - in a long telling that took several days - and played the Trivial Pursuit game, and seen a few choice scenes on YouTube.) If you have not seen the trilogy yet, then go and do so - because this video of Owen battling the Balrog won't make any sense:

And I must leave off on this, a not-entirely-child-friendly merging of two of the best acts ever to come out of New Zealand. Yes, it's Flight of the Conchords' "Frodo, Don't Wear the Ring:"


Rana said...

I am ROTFWL! I have never seen an episode of Flight of the Concords this was hilarious. I have to show this to Techi Guy.

I have always wanted to go to New Zealand and Australia. The only time I have ever seen a Kiwi is on cartoons. What a great trip. I'm looking forward to this Virtual Field Trip.

jugglingpaynes said...

:o) We've enjoyed some songs by Flight of the Conchords. Especially Albi the Racist Dragon.

How fantastic that your parents are doing this! I would love to do more traveling someday. Maybe when the kids can pay for their own tickets. ;o)

Peace and Laughter,

Susan said...

I love Flight of the Conchords! It is 5:40am here, so I have to wait to watch the videos, alas. What a trip your folks are having.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't it take like a bazillion hours to fly to New Zealand. I hate flying, so I guess I'll probably never get to go. In that case, THANKS for an enlightening post!! ;)

The Stone Age Techie said...

Rana - I am ROTFWL just thinking about you ROTFWL! I've always had a thing about Australia, and reading Bill Bryson's In a Sunburned Country only made me want to go more. I think I must add New Zealand to my list, too!

Cristina - yep, the tickets weren't cheap. But my folks have been joking that they're spending our inheritance to finance the trip; at least, I think it's a joke....

Susan - while I was writing this post, I was thinking to myself, I wonder if Susan likes Flight of the Conchords? How silly of me to even wonder!

Topsy - it took them about 20 hours from here on the East coast. That's about 19.5 hours too many for me, too, but my folks have been living a flight away for so many years now that I might only flinch at the last 10 or so.

Cheers everyone!