Saturday, January 17, 2015

Horses. Hare Krishna and Hoops

It's summer in New Zealand and the weather is certainly heating up. So are the activities in the area. There is a lot to do and we are trying to experience some of the fun.
Last Sunday, we were invited by Dee and Eric (who have a car) to join them for a trip to the Mid-Northern Rodeo in Maungatapere. Rankin and Sandy also joined us and being from Texas they were true rodeo aficionados. It was Dee and Eric's first rodeo. The rodeo was celebrating it's 50th Anniversary and it's in a great setting. Folks brought their chairs, blankets, tents, and umbrellas to sit on the hillside overlooking the corral and the action. It was a warm, sunny day and the crowd was a great mix of local families. The events were the traditional mix of rodeo fun – bronc (bareback and saddle) riding, steer wrestling, roping and tying, barrel racing, calf riding (for youngsters) and bull riding. There was a great announcer and blaring music, food and beverage concessions giving the event a great atmosphere. We spent the full day enjoying the competition which also featured the New Zealand vs. Australia High School competition. There was one young girl competing in the barrel races (person on horse, races around three barrels in a cloverleaf formation in a timed competition). This girl was probably only ten years old and so small her feet almost stuck straight out over the large horse. She was an amazing rider – very fast and daring and fun to watch. We had a great day – though got a tad too much sun!

We watched the Oregon/Ohio State National Championship football game (it was on a Tuesday afternoon at 2:30 here). Not a big crowd for that event! Sorry the Duck's didn't win – we think it was the uniforms.

Next on our agenda for fun was participating in the Jagannath's Ratha Yatra Festival. This is an ancient traditional festival from India that involves pulling a colorful 7 meter (25 foot) high cart through the town with much singing and dancing around it. It is a Hindu celebration of the gods in their highest state of happiness and ecstasy. So it is a very happy, colorful and jubilant celebration and we were made to feel very welcome. The street is ceremonially swept before the cart which is pulled by all the participants. Treats were handed out throughout – snacks as well as roses. The singing of "Hare Krishna" and the playing of drums, accordions, bells, cymbals, and tambourines added to the festive feeling.

Today, Sunday, we went to the Whangarei Croquet Club to try our hand at proper "Croquie." Unlike our backyard version, this is quite the challenge as the "hoops" are much smaller, barely the width of the ball. The mallets are also rectangular and weighted. We played a few rounds after getting lessons and coaching from Trevor, President of the 100 year old Club. We had a lot of laughs and Michael was on the winning team for the two rounds we played.

Between all the fun, we continue to check off boat projects. The main sail is back after a re-cut; the engine starter, heat exchanger, and fuel filter are all repaired and re-installed. The exhaust mixing elbow is replaced. The propane locker has been painted and new propane hoses installed. The cockpit sole job has been "started" by contracting with a repair person and getting the measurements and design completed. Battery research is well underway.

We've also completed some health checks on us. We've had a doctor's appointment, blood work, x-rays and various tests and so far the results are saying we are still in good shape! It's good to get all of that out of the way as it's been a few years since we've done any of that. We still have to update a few vaccines and get some prescriptions to update our med kit.

It's been busy but we've enjoyed our time here. There are several nice walks around here and town is close by. We are walking everywhere and it isn't a problem. We've booked a marina in Auckland in February to meet Mark and Kathryn – so they don't have to play "where in the world is Astarte."

Still to come on the list of fun things to do: cricket, rugby and football (soccer).

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