Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve Day

Without a coffee pot available we resort to tea. Neither of us takes to instant coffee without a struggle. Ron was getting breakfast ready, so I decided to look for butter. At the reception, they told me about a ‘dairy’ a few blocks away giving me directions to find it. Thinking ‘dairy’, I was not sure what to look for, but pictured a place with cows that offered fresh milk, butter, and cheese. After following the directions for five blocks, I found Diana’s Dairy, disappointed when what I found is what we would call a convenience store. Besides butter, I was able to find a bar of soap, we had forgotten that at the supermarket too, resorting to have to use shampoo for showering. They also had band-aids, so I bought a small box for my blistering small toe.

As I left the dairy, I could not help but notice a lovely bakery right next door. They had luscious looking goodies, so I splurged on 2 mango muffins for breakfast. They had coffee to go, so I thought to get 2 of them, but they didn’t have way to carry multiple cups back. I had heard the woman tell the guy ahead of me to be careful, it was hot, which clued me in to ask before ordering. She directed me to yet another place down the street. I cannot help but wonder how much business they lose out on with such a simple solution at hand. With an armful already, I hesitated roaming down the street, but noticed that there was a coffee shop two doors away from the bakery, yet it was not the one that the bakery lady had suggested. I went in and sure enough they had a cardboard tray for me to negotiate the coffees, the muffins, soap, butter, and band-aids that I had to cart back to the hostel.

When I arrived bearing gifts, well it is Christmas eve morning after all, Ron had already heated up the two quiches we had bought as well as ham on garlic bread. The muffins were set aside for another meal, but the coffee was certainly good.

We had decided to visit the Agrodome: The Unique NZ Experience where there is fun, entertainment, and education. Sales pitches like these make me suspicious, but it did sound fun at the same time. I was hoping they were not pulling the wool over our eyes. Having an early breakfast, we had time to catch the 10:30 bus to get us to the Agrodome for the 11am show. Directions for reaching the bus stop were a bit convoluted, so we had to ask multiple times, but found it with 10 minutes to spare. The driver let us out right at the foot of the Agrodome entrance and we rushed up the 3 block long entrance to get our tickets in time for the show.

We bought the combo tickets, so our first event was the sheep show, but prior to it starting, you are welcomed to go around and pet the nineteen different types of sheep will be displayed for the show. Not one of the stars was sheepish about having his photos taken; they all posed like the little lambs they once were. One by one, each of the nineteen breeds of sheep were introduced taking their place on a pyramid stage where their breed name is displayed beneath them. There was only one that was naturally black, but three breeds with big horns. The commentator gave a brief history of each variety once they were in place. After all sheep were on their step, the commentator did a sheep shearing demonstration. A champion sheep shearer can shear 700 sheep in a 9 hour day. Once the poor spectacle sheep was now shown naked and sent off stage, the next event was the dog herding exhibition where three trained dogs show off their mettle in handling three petrified ducks, not letting them get out of hand or off of the stage. Finally, volunteers were called to the stage. Ron was amongst them. Each was giving a bottle, and then baby lambs were let loose to be fed by the volunteers. At the end of the show, the sheep were left in place for us to pet again and pose with for photos. All nineteen of them said “Make sure you come baaaaaaaaack soon.”

Outside, the next part of the show was a dog herding demonstration with sheep. The dog ran those poor sheep this way and that way, but it is obvious the dog is well trained. Last on the agenda was a farm tour. A tractor pulls an open vehicle that holds about thirty people. We were taken into the kiwi orchard, to examine kiwi just now fruiting. If kiwi are not yet ripe and kept cold, they can be stored for up to 9 months. After they start to warm, they will fully ripen, making them ideal for exportation around the world. We also saw an orchard of a fruit none of us had heard of before, something like a jiajua, though we did not see any on the vines, so we still do not know exactly what they are. We were treated to kiwi wine and kiwi juice mixed with Aloe Vera.

From here the real fun began. The farm has thousands of sheep, goats, alpacas, and one llama. We were told that due to the mild year round climate, all animals can live outside year round, so they have acres and acres to roam. However once they see this vehicle, they all come dashing toward it. We are all given handfuls of pellets to feed them and they know the good guys have arrived. If you have never been stampeded by alpacas, you have not lived. One red alpaca took a shine to me, but butted me each time I gave any food to a sheep or another alpaca. At the same time, she/he would whine letting me know I had an unhappy furball on my hands. It was tons of fun playing Dr. Doolittle. The last part of the journey was through the cow pasture, where they have twelve varieties of cows from around the world. One bull was about the size of the bull statue in the NYC financial district and is often shown in movies. Humungous!!

All during this time, we were wearing shorts, but the weather changed cooling down considerably. Once the show was over, we were anxious for the bus to arrive. Standing on the roadside, when we spotted the bus, we flagged it down the way the driver delivering us had taught us, but the driver of this bus pointed and passed us by. It took a couple of cold minutes to realize he was going to turn around to pick us up on the other side of the street. We made it back in time to rest up for the evening’s adventure.

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