Thursday, July 10, 2008

Creating a fuss in the thriving metropolis

Our hosts still live on the farm, although they have really retired from the fuss and bother of early morning milkings and shifting herds from one paddock to another these days. Retirement is treating them well though, and these two pilgrims are having great fun visiting. While yesterday we were content to walk the roads and marvel at the vistas of rolling hills and lush pastures complete with the fresh country air, today our hosts treated us to a different pace of life.

After travelling across the Arapuni dam, we wound our way into the great metropolis of Putaruru to explore the shops and to meet up with some more family members. Little did we know that our arrival in town would be not unlike a stone falling into a tranquil pool, the ripples moving in ever-widening circles and causing more than just a bit of fuss.

First we stopped in at a local wool shop and spent the better part of an hour delightfully watching the charming woman who welcomed us as she flitted from one skein of wool to another. The varieties of colour and textures kept us all mesmorized for quite some time but we finally settled on a few different brands, colours and types of wool, including the highly prized Marino, then it was on to choosing the right patterns for the sweaters which will be made in the coming days, weeks, months ...

Having literally exhausted ourselves shopping this morning, we had to stop in to one of the local coffee shops to have a spot of tea, one of the specialty coffees or a chocolate milkshake along with Nola's daugher Theresa and her two delightful children. When the proprietors heard that these two pilgrims were from Canada, they promply went on a shopping spree of their own: to find a guest book so we could imortalize our stay, brief as it was in this little oasis.

This is our second visit to New Zealand. The first was ten years ago, and to our absolute delight, we discovered that we had still kept some paper money from our first visit here. There is only a small problem - the paper money in New Zealand has all been changed now and the currency we had is no longer being accepted in many establishments. An easy solution to this dillema is to go to one of the local banks and ask them to exchange our out-dated money - so we thought. We asked the lady at the bank wicket if it was possible to exchange the currency, and although she was sure that there would be no problem, she wanted to check it out with some of her associates. This took another half hour of consultations and phone calls, but in the end there was no problem. Apparently, had we waited another five years or so, we may have had major problems, since the coins have already been out of circulation for some time, and the paper money is also being phased out. Weren't we lucky that we came back to visit when we did.

As if all this was not enough, we next stopped in at a jeweler's shop so Nola could have some small medals added to some rosaries that she wants to offer to her grandsons. Once the lady in the shop heard that my companion and I are priests, she was quick to tell us that she too has a rosary which she brought back from Lourdes. For the next several minutes, she ran around the store in quite a tizzy searching in all knooks and crannies for the illusive beads. In the end, she couldn't locate them, but vowed that she would continue the search at home.

Back home on the farm, it's time to relax with afternoon tea. For some of us, this means that we're not actually having a cuppa but rather a cool beer or a glass of wine. This has become quite a ritual of its own, and will be followed tonight with a delicious lamb dinner thanks to the culinary talents of our hosts. In all, this will be a tranquil end to what has turned out to be quite an adventurous day.

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