Friday, May 21, 2010

New Zealand is Down Underer

I had hoped to be in a happier place before I wrote another blog post. We're coming up on 3 weeks of fusterclucking after our arrival in Christchurch NZ. As I had mentioned in my previous post, our plan was to rent a campervan while we shopped for a van of our own. This, in fact, did happen, and we managed to find a phat campervan that we will hopefully live in for the next 9-12 months (visitor visa is still under review). Why are we still hanging out in Christchurch in an unhappy state, then? The day after we bought our van, on a cold morning, Scott noticed that he couldn't shift into 2nd gear. During our test drive, he hadn't noticed a thing wrong with the shifting. Fast forward 2 days, and we are sitting in the lobby of "The Gearbox Company", with the owner telling us that we will have to spend at least $1500 to fix our transmission. We had to sleep in the driveway of the garage because it was a 15-hour job that spanned 2 days, and ended up totaling $2500. Thanks Ford, we bought a manual transmission because of your shitty automatics and you still can't get it right. You can imagine what went through our heads for the days that followed. Did we get suckered by Grandpa Steve and Grandma Sylvia? I had hoped to take pictures of the van after we bought it, but we lost our camera. When will the bad karma stop?

While we were dealing with the van issues, we had ordered a fancy bike rack that we could mount on the back of our van that would allow us to open the back doors with the bikes mounted. The estimate was that it would take 2-3 days to arrive. "The Motorhome Shop" finally called us back, after 5 days and MANY phone calls to tell us the rack was "lost". Seriously? We called another shop, 6 hours north of here, who ordered it for us. We are set to pick it up 4 days from now.

You may be wondering where the bikes have been during our fusterclucking. This is where I should interject some optimism. If either of us had just a sliver of optimism in our personality, we would probably be really happy right now. We don't, and aren't, but what follows are all the things we should be really happy about.

We flew out of Sydney with 216 lbs (98kgs) of luggage. After only 20 minutes of sweating and arguing with Virgin Blue about their documented luggage policy, they allowed us to check all of our luggage FOR FREE. Virgin Blue has a crazy (good) policy that counts each sporting item as 5 kgs of your 20kg limit. You can bet we took FULL ADVANTAGE of this -- I get the feeling no one has ever abused the policy like we did. Maybe this is what started the bad karma streak.

When we arrived in Christchurch, we stayed in an airport hotel. When we checked out, I asked them if we could leave our bikes, snowboards, kiteboard, and surfboard in their storage room for a week. The receptionist happily agreed and we ended up leaving everything for 2 weeks. Thank-you Sudima International Hotel.

The 2nd day that we arrived, we found the nearest library for some internet access. The library/community center bathrooms had FREE HOT SHOWERS! If it isn't clear by now, free hot showers are a dream when you've been living in a van, especially coming from warm Australia to cold New Zealand. So, our city fusterclucking has been calmed a bit by some nice showers. Our new van has a hot shower, but it is really small. Poor Scott doesn't have much room for scrubbing. We may have to invent a wall-mounted loofah scrubber for him. It also makes the van really steamy -- why in the world would you install a shower, in a van no less, without a vent over the top of it!? Sorry, this is supposed to be the optimistic part of the post.

Our van will hopefully serve us quite well in the colder/wetter climate of NZ. It has a shower, hot water, fridge, microwave (stupid!), sink, 2-burner stove, propane heater, and a huge bed. Unfortunately, most of these things don't work for long unless we are plugged into power at a campground which we don't plan on doing. We have an auxiliary battery (charged by the main battery when we drive) that will power everything for a little while, before it gets sucked dry.

More happy stuff in NZ: lots of kitties, cool laid back people, great libraries, excellent exchange rate at the moment (1 USD = 1.5 NZD), and loads of exploring to be had!

Thanks to Dan and the Flight of the Conchords for this blog post title.

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