Thursday, February 20, 2020

Kiwi Hospitality

 By: Ghislaine Howard
My friends Catherine and Spiros opened up their home for me to stay in Wellington. The first thing I did, after Andre dropped me off there, was put my containers of abalone in their freezer. My hosts were kind to feed and house me, and I talked with her son, who had just come back from his OE (Overseas Experience). Americans don't do OEs, but it's expected of a Kiwi - because NZ is a small isolated Western country. Young Kiwis are expected to go abroad and spend a few years there to learn. So Anthony told me about his experience in Southeast Asia, India, and then Europe. He had grown up. I remember when he was just a kid and all their other kids. But after a few hours staying with Catherine, my friend Kirill and Winnie came and picked me up. Kirill brought a styrofoam container for my abalone. I measured it. All the abalone would fit in it.

Kirill and Winnie and their new daughter and I got lunch at the botanical gardens. It was crowded. We just caught up, and since I left - it appears they had a lot of tragedy since I left. Cancer claimed the lives of both their fathers - which was sad. (It was then a force of ideas flooded my mind. Why is cancer an epidemic in New Zealand?

I ordered a small kid's soup and glass of red wine. But when they brought out the food, I knew the bill was wrong. They overcharged us. I told the waiter about it - who was upset I pointed out the mistake. I just felt that things weren't right. Kirill got a refund. But then they messed up on our order again.

The waiter started getting aggressive with me; so, I took it to his manager and all was made right. I got the family a nice little credit too. You can take the lawyer out of litigation, but you can't take litigation out of the lawyer.

It was a bright and warm sunny summer's day. So, I took off my shirt and walked through the garden to tan. I wanted to be dark, so everyone could know I came back from a nice holiday. (Actually, it was in New Zealand - I met a German who told me he wanted a nice tan so all his friends could know he went on a nice holiday. I liked the idea - and it's stuck with me since.) 

It was nice walking through the gardens. I tried to grab a duckling by the pond, and the mother duck flew at me and quacked at me. She didn't like that.

At one point, a young Kiwi guy came up to me and asked what else he should see in Wellington. He was from somewhere North - the East or West Cape. I can't recall. I told him to see Red Rocks by Island Bay - where they filmed a lot of King Kong. On a Sunday afternoon, my friends and I would have a picnic out there I told him. Then he had to go, and I did too.

Their daughter was a handful. She defied the parents at every wish. I wonder how so many kids are born so rebellious while others are not. She could be a bad little girl. When her father would take her away from the playground she would scream: "Help me! Help me!" I wonder where she learned that from. It made seem like her father was kidnapping her.

Later, we went to Kirill and Winne's place and had Chinese takeaway. 

Kirill and I met nearly ten years ago. We had a little Russian group we were all part of. We were all young and single and we'd go out and have fun almost every night. It was a fun little community to have. One of the best times we had was when we went skiing and snowboarding together and rented out a little cabin.

We talked about how one of our friends - a son of a kleptocrat - bought two fancy cars. Crashed one, then got deported back for tying up his girlfriend in some sexual play. He took pictures of her in bondage. She went to the police with it and said he kidnapped her. He was deported immediately. His rich Russian parents tried to bribe the police - but they wouldn't have any of it. Such, such were those days.

After dinner and drinking a shot of whiskey, while smoking some of a cigar with Kirill, I was able to pray for the family before I left. Kirill took me to Catherine's place on a scenic drive through the bays, and I got to pray for him too after he dropped me off. 

At Catherine's place, Spiros was sitting on the couch watching television. I sat with him and talked to him about my day and what happened since last time we saw each other. Catherine offered me a glass of red wine. She drank some. I drank some. We talked and the time quickly ran out on us. We all had to go to sleep.

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