Posted by: scribe9 | January 30, 2010

The dark side

I was all set to mention that in three months here, we’ve never seen anyone flip the bird. But as we were walking along the highway and about to cross a street that enters our neighborhood, a big black SUV squealed and smoked around the corner. It was  almost on two wheels, and the front passenger door was being held open about two feet by an arm and a leg. One of the young women who’d been waiting to cross turned and gestured to the rapidly-disappearing vehicle. (The typical noisy, speeding vehicle here isn’t that big or that expensive. It’s much more likely to be a small Asian sedan with a maladjusted muffler. Drivers of such vehicles are known as “hoons,” an elision of “hooligans.”)

 While almost every New Zealander we’ve dealt with is friendly and polite—we’re going to miss that—this is far from a simon-pure country. Plays with elderly women talking dirty are popular. Prostitution is legal. (If you look up “Brothels” in the phone book, you’re redirected to “Massage Parlours.”) Many abuse alcohol and drugs. Theft and domestic violence are huge problems. This country is beautiful, but of course it has a dark side. After all, this is where they filmed ‘The Lord of the Rings” trilogy (and someday may get around to filming “The Hobbit”).

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