Wednesday, October 04, 2006
This morning I had breakfast with two good friends,
Jim and Steve at the YMCA, where I'm staying. They're
staying next door at the Williams House. to give you
an idea about the Williams House, Jim's first purchase
of the day was a bug bomb. Nice. They had both arrived
yesterday from the Ice where they just spent the last
eight months. It was interesting to hear them speak of
me as tan as that's not something I've heard in a few
years. Especially at this time of year as I am just coming
off the Ice. Right before breakfast though, I found out
from the Front Desk that today's flight to McMurdo didn't
take off due to bad weather. Yippee! An extra day for me
in Christchurch. Although it's one more day away from
Lynn, I'm sure she will understand as it is always nice
to spend as much time in Christchurch as possible before
Since I had a good breakfast, I set off on foot to go to
a couple of grocery stores near the center of downtown to
get a few last minute gifts and necessities for the Ice.
One of the things I bought was Tasty Cheese. Indeed, it is
tasty, but it's actually called...Tasty Cheese. It's a kind
of cheddar that I've only seen in New Zealand. It's kind of
an extra sharp variety. All I know is that it tastes awesome
and that I bought 4 kilos of the stuff to take down in my bags.
Shopping for groceries, like many things in New Zealand is
similar to that in America...but not quite. I can't really
describe what is different, but it's slightly off somehow.
I went to three different stores today and three different
brands of stores and got the same feeling from each one.
It's almost like New Zealanders want to use supermarkets
as their choice of shopping (unlike the French) but they're
novices at the whole system. What they do well though is
market and advertise their products well. Everything is a
riot of color in their packaging and it jumps (not literally
thank goodness) off the shelf and demands you buy it. This
is particularly dangerous when coming off the Ice. However
I just needed a few specific things and made it out quickly.
If you're ever in NZ, don't shop at Pack N' Save. As far
as selection, price, etc., a good place to shop. But...
this place is a zoo...any time of the day, week, month it
always seems to exceed it's maximum occupancy by 200%. I don't
go there unless I have to.
Upon completing my grocery tour of the Southern Hemisphere
(at least it felt that way), I headed out to the Clothing
Distribution Center for my Extreme Cold Weather (ECW) gear.
This is the time of year we get all of our outdoor clothing
and it always seems like nothing fits or is the right model.
However, this year seemed to go pretty smoothly for me and
I only had to exchange a few items. I was even able to get
rid of a few things that I knew I wouldn't need like a second
pair of boots, an extra parka, etc. Afterward, we had a
Q&A session with the new head of Raytheon Polar Services
Company (RPSC), Sam Feola. Sam had headed up this operation
when it was still part of ASA (the previous contractor) and
was back to do the job with RPSC. He answered some tough
questions. Especially those doing with the NSF budget and
the future of the program. What especially interested me was
his frank discussion of next year's Winter season. The NSF
has made the budget very tight and there looks to be only
118 people on station next year. Lynn and I are scheduled to
be part of that 118, so it could be interesting. Overall he
was very open and seemed to care. I think he will be ok.
So after a very long day (including some job-related training
at the Travel Office with a nice Kiwi woman named Janice), my
friend and co-worker Shaun and I rode the bus back to the City
Centre and got dinner at Dimitri's Souvlaki. The picture above
can't do Souvlaki justice. It's lamb chunks with salad mixed
together inside a pita shaped cone. It's awesome and Lynn and
I try to eat here at least once while we're in town.
So tomorrow is a day off. No flying, no cares. Just run a few
errands, collect $200NZ per diem and hang out. Having dinner
with my friend Jon, who also just left the Ice last night. He's
been made the head chef for next winter...and got a 6$.20 cent
raise per week to do it. Should be an interesting conversation.
Posted by Tom Hamann at 1:21 AM