intosh apple. Yes a piece of fruit cost me $400. Before I had even set foot outside the airport. If you are not aware of it, it is a very serious offense to bring fresh food into New Zealand, for any microbials or insects that might be coming along with it could potentially devastate the agricultural economy. I know this very well now! I had got off the airplane thinking that all my fruit was safe inside my belly, but as it turned out I had a stray apple in my hand bag. What’s worse is that I was sniffed by two canine inspectors who missed it. If those olfactorialy challenged dogs had caught my apple perhaps I wouldn’t have had to pay the fine.
But really, if I had known what was in my bag the whole thing wouldn’t have happened. Pulled aside by a stern older woman I took out a fat wad of NZ $20 bills which I had just changed. Convienetly I had exactly $400 in my pocket. Right then and there I decided that this was my price of admission, a warning to be aware of myself and where I was. And sure enough, over the next two days in Auckland, I misplaced my towel, my bathing suit, my handbag, my shoes, and more (I found them all). Many of you probably know that this is extremely unlike me–I have a place for everything. I guess it was an adjustment.
My first two days were spent at Frienz backpackers in downtown Auckland. The energy of the busy hostel was new but I got settled when I realized everyone was just doing their own thing. At dinner I sat down to eat my rice and beans with a young guy from Germany named Lucas. He had been travelling in New Zealand and Austraila surfing and hiking for the past six months. We had a lot in common and it was kind of a relief to find someone that I could connect with accross the world.
That night was the hostel’s poker night. I had’nt slept since the airplane and figured it was a good way to set me on NZ time and meet some people. It turned out that I was quite delierious from jet lag…but it turned into an unothodox poker strategy. Nobody saw me asleep in the corner and I won a few big hands and somehow made it to the final table with Lucas. Came pretty close in fact to winning back my money but it just wasn’t in the cards.
The next day I spent with Lucas walking around downtown Auckland, though there is not much to see. It is a nice city, clean and modern, but without much substance. And its really hard to find a good meal here, especially on a backpacker’s budget. I’m afraid when it comes to common food the New Zelanders are sitting beside their British couterparts. Today I ate a meat pie, which will never happen again. Imagine hot slimy dog food baked into a pastry!