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Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Auckland and Waitakere

I was met at the airport by the rental car guy who picked me up in the small dented Honda I was to rent and drove me to a random parking lot a couple miles away where he swiped my visa through a box hooked to his cell phone as I signed the one-page rental agreement. There being nothing more to it, he handed me the key, told me to call him when I got back in town, and hopped into another car and drove off.

My first destination: the Auto Association in downtown Auckland where I could acquire some maps via their reciprocal agreement with the AAA.

And so my introduction to driving from the right hand seat of the car on the left hand side of the road started headlong into downtown Auckland, straight into a traffic jam and then a dizzy mix of one- and two-way streets with lots of traffic, pedestrians, and a scant selection of short-term parallel parking slots, while following a hand-scrawled map on the back of the rental car agreement.

While I'm happy to say I avoided any really stupid mistakes, I did find driving on the left to be much more stressful than I expected. More than something new, it requires un-learning a life-time's worth of automated reactions. A word of advice: don't think "other side", think "left side", because the former only works for a short time and then gets really really confusing. I have a new appreciation for what it must be like to be dyslexic--there really were a few brief but highly saturated moments on the second or third day when I could not tell left from right. Fortunately in the end my brain did not decide it was appropriate to rewire at that level of abstraction.

Maps in hand, I drove west to my friend Andy's house in Waitakere (pronounced "why-TEK-er-ee", oddly enough). He's running a small software biz out of his home there:

Which has a nice view from the window:

And here's looking down their driveway:

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Simon Funk / simonfunk@gmail.com