Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Warning! This Country May Be Hazardous To Your Health

Today I had a close encounter with 30,000 pounds of steel moving at 70 kph: a tractor-trailer on Route 27. He was in my lane! Or at least the lane I was turning into. Either he was driving way too fast and came out of nowhere, or I forgot to look right.

It's hazardous for an American to drive on the left side of the road in a right-hand-drive car, especially through all those pesky roundabouts and one-lane bridges.

In fact, it's amazing that anyone survives visiting New Zealand, let alone living here. The hazards come from left and right, day and night--faster than a pack of dogs chasing a rabbit. With luck, most of them will whiz right on by instead of leaving me curled up in a fetal position on a stretcher.

Driving alone is enough to keep your intestines tied up in knots and your heart pumping double time. If it's not starting down the wrong side of the road or a Mack truck barrelling toward your passenger door, it's a hairpin turn on a one-and-a-half-lane mountain road. There are PLENTY of those.

You know it's going to be a doozy when, in a 100 kph speed zone (always a suicidal speed in the mountains, in my view), the sign for the next curve reads 35--or even 25!

In addition to the stinging insects (whose venom is still coursing through my back and keeping me awake nights; see previous blog post), the ozone layer is cracked wide open here, and everyone we've met is sunburned. Then there are the walking paths. They lead to beautiful places.
But they threaten to trip you up with slippery slopes, poison animal traps that are   targetting invasive species, and tree diseases that require you to wash your shoes.

I succumbed to the wet rocks, trying and failing to cross a deceptively slick patch of shoreline at low tide, with consequent bruises and contusions. Not to mention bloodstains on my shirt and mud stains on my behind.
Even the hot springs require caution: from the risk of drowning to being trampled by crowds to frying in the hot sun to burning your tender genitals if the water is too hot.
The list goes on: swaying foot bridges and warnings about tsunamis and mysterious signs with no explanation other than perhaps to be on the lookout for dangerous chickens.

And these are only the hazards one encounters during a routine tourist visit to Kiwi-land--without even engaging in bungee-jumping or sky-diving!! Yikes!
And just to make sure my nerves are on edge.....we haven't encountered the killer sand flies yet!

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