The 4th of July came and went in New Zealand with neither a bang nor a whimper. People in NZ are certainly more aware of American holidays than the other way around, but still it’s not actually a thing here.

But we had a fun weekend anyway. On Saturday I swam in the midwinter Iceberg Swim off Waiheke Island. The people above were doing the “Ice Splash” event, but they were way more photogenic than the people like me who did the 2km Iceberg swim. The water this time of year is about 55F, which is plenty chilly. Especially for those brave souls who swam it sans wetsuit! It was impressive to see over 1,000 registrants to the inaugural edition of this event… although it made for long ferry lines on the way home.

On Sunday (after another swim) we were treated to a free scoop of Ben and Jerry’s by the (American) owner of one of their stores here, just for showing an American passport. We’re all in a Facebook group for expats together, and it was really nice to go get some of the very best: Cherry Garcia (me) and Chunky Monkey (Lee). Both those flavors are not sold outside the retail shops, so it’s a fairly rare treat for us. We do miss sitting in Brattleboro with our neighbor Chuck and killing off a whole pint before breaking out the cards.

A couple weeks ago we saw the movie Eiffel at the traveling French film festival, which had a bit about the construction of the Statue of Liberty, so it was an easy segue to spend the afternoon of the 4th playing pétanque. We’d known somehow that there was a local club, but hadn’t given it a go till Sunday. Fun! Nice people! Will go back.

We capped the weekend off with a BBQ dinner at a South African place (the only segue I can come up with to get from American BBQ to South African concerns an episode of This American Life from 1997, so just go with me please). The American influenced place we wanted to go to has closed, apparently a victim of reduced tourist traffic in their very expensive neighborhood.

Somewhere in there we managed to cram in a little bit of that most American activity: second-hand shopping! We came away with a couple items of clothing, a souvenir shoe brush inlaid with many native timbers, a big vase, and a collection of Russian-language John Carter of Mars books. How awesomely random is that???

All that Independence is hard work, so I can promise that I was asleep even earlier in the atmospheric British mystery than usual on Sunday night!

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