Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Competition of the Odd Shaped Ball

Walking down the street these days, there is an unmistakeable giddy atmosphere.  If I didn’t know better, I would suspect that they were handing out free beer or prozac on the street corner.  Instead it seems the chummy atmosphere stems from this chaotic-looking sport called rugby. And maybe from some beer too.  Just not free beer.

Not free beer

The international tourists came prepared with suitcases packed full of superhero-like flag capes and face paint.  This is fun because it is like an international festival on the streets every day.  I also think there is some secret competition to wear the most outlandish costume to the games.  But I wish they would have told me before because my “costume” for the US v. Ireland game was a red shirt and blue scarf.  Next time I may have to step it up and go as The Statue of Liberty or an Economic Recession.
So far I think it is a close competition between Captain America, Russian Cosmonauts, Sheep, and the Baguette-toting French Hen. 
The RWC opening ceremony night in Auckland was crazy.  There were hakas. There were wakas.  But most of all there was a ridiculously absurd amount of people.  Someone in the planning committee estimated that about 60,000 people would show up around the Auckland Harbour to celebrate.  Over 200,000 showed up.  (Surprise! Someone’s getting fired.)
This of course led to lots of mass chaos.  Trains shut down, ferries stopped services, and people came face to face with the opposing team’s fans.  Quite literally.  And then they couldn’t move.
After trying to get through the mass of people downtown (which was like wading through quicksand), we luckily caught the last ferry back before the ferries were shut down.  It worked out perfectly in the end because we were able to watch the opening ceremonies and game on tv with our “free” beer and pizza and a spectacular view of the fireworks.

Auckland Harbour gets crazy

Seriously these were the BEST fireworks I have ever seen.  They launched fireworks from skyscrapers and from the skytower and from four ships in the harbour.  This meant the sky was extra bright and sparkly.
It went something like this:

Snap, Crackle, Pop
See, now you feel like you’ve been there.
Then last Saturday we woke up and drove to New Plymouth in the Taranaki region for the US vs. Ireland game.  We expectedly lost, but it was a fun game.  I swear all of Ireland showed up with their campervan rentals.  Which is cool because the Irish know how to have a good time.  
And because questionable decisions make good stories, we did walk into an Irish pub at one point wearing our US colors.  I swear a whole pub full of leprechauns turned around and stared at us. 
D: “Ok, back away slowly and pretend like we just got lost.”
M: “I think they already saw us.”
D: “It’s ok they’re all drunk and will forget.  And we’re not taking their pot of gold so we should be ok.”
It unfortunately rained on and off all weekend, but New Plymouth has some spectacular looking beaches.  There was also this really cool light show going on in their Pukekura Park at night.  They had lots of neon lights on shrubbery and trees, and best of all, light up row boats!  Did we go on them?  Heck yes we did.  It was only later when I was reading the guidebook that I learned the lake is full of arm-length eels.  This is one of those things I would have preferred not to find out.  Ever.

Purdy lights, Scary eels

- Meredith

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