We went to a local Italian restaurant. The Italian Diaspora is spread all over the world. We can well testify to that as we have enjoyed their food in places as far-flung as Cairo, Hong Kong and now Auckland. The energetic young man working at the restaurant was excited to see two Los Angeleans as his girlfriend was from San Diego. He was from an area near Verona in Northern Italy. We asked how he ended up in Auckland and he said he had a problem getting a green card in America and she had a problem getting legal in Italy so they moved across the world to Auckland. As I said, the world is shrinking.
We do things right most of the time in the States, but sometimes we need a little fixing. The Kiwis dispensed with any coins below a dime (they have their own dollar). They don’t have pennies or nickels. The Aussies have nickels, but no pennies. The penny in the States has way outlived its usefulness. It is largely because of the lack of political will that we have not eliminated it. In an era when most transactions are electronic already, it seems a waste to continue to mint all those pennies on which we lose money. The Kiwis and Aussies seem to be doing quite well without them, and so could we.
We like to drive through the countries we visit to get a far superior view and to interact with people along the way. New Zealand is a stunning place to visit. Driving through the country provided two particularly fascinating experiences.
The first was stopping in a small town to gas up. I went into the station to pay the lady at the counter. She stated that I did not have to prepay. What a shock! It has been at least fifteen years since someone trusted you at a gas station in the U.S. It felt nice to be trusted to do the honorable thing.
Driving through New Zealand we not only saw the beautiful landscape, but also we saw lots of livestock. There were plenty of cattle and, of course, sheep as far as the eye can see (we’re told 70 million in the country). It reminded me of all those old cowboy movies where they had range wars between the cattlemen and the sheepherders. The most surprising was to see the herds of deer being raised as livestock. The U.S. has such a Bambi complex you would not see that. You rarely see Venison on a menu. In New Zealand, they raise deer and they had no compunction about eating them.
Other than that, from all our discussions and experiences New Zealand is just like the United States, except everyone speaks English. On to Australia.