David and Lili's World Tour


October 2010 - Permanent Residents Forever

We now have "indefinite" Permanent Resident Visas. Yes! Unlike Lili's former Green Card (which got revoked because we don't live in the USA) and my Brazilian residency (which will get revoked as soon as I stay away from Brazil more than 2 years), our new visas are good for the rest of our lives, even if we move elsewhere, but we plan to stay.

September 2010 - Christchurch Earthquake #1

Bricks flew, crushing cars. People got stuck in quicksand. Roofs collapsed. And there were fires. But nobody died. The earthquake in Haiti killed more than 200,000 people, and it wasn't as strong. Two factors explain the difference: the Christchurch trembler happened while everyone slept - and the New Zealand government enforces higher quality building standards. Bonus: the Earthquake Commission will give up to NZ$100,000 per damaged home. The emergency response was swift and well organized, too.

We moved to Wellington just ahead of the big shake, but we visited two weeks later and felt some aftershocks. Here's what we saw:

May 2010 - Wellington

Is Wellington the most livable city on Earth?

We think so. But we have not yet been to Melbourne, Zurich, Stockholm, or Sydney. We've heard people complain that Windy Welly is too cold, wet, and prone to earthquakes, but we find a perfect mix of sophistication and charm, a clean city, a green city, where crime is low and spirits are high. We moved here for work and culture, and we're glad we did. We bike and walk home through the Botanic Gardens and then along the Karori Bird Sanctuary, with glow worms illuminating the darkest part of the forest trail. Nice!

The National Party currently holds power. We vote Green, but we feel no stress from divisive politics; after all, New Zealand is the world's least corrupt nation. Yes, there is corruption, of course, but compared to America's culture wars, politics here seems like child's play. We want to see more proactive government support for solar energy; maybe the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will inspire legislation. Shouldn't every house have a solar panel on its roof? Well, maybe not in Windy Welly, but we can see a wind farm from our house. Fantastic!

New Zealand offers top trails for exploring the back country. And this summer, we explored (see photos). Highlights include the hot springs near Welcome Flat Hut, the Otago Central Rail Trail, and the Tongariro Northern Circuit. We bicycled to Akaroa from our old house in Christchurch with camping gear, and our new house has mountain-bike tracks accessible from our back yard. Great!

There's a special corporation here called The ACC that pays all medical bills for all accidents. Tourists included. The money comes from taxes and levies, so for example, motorcycle drivers pay a little more. A guy we know who works there says they should make mountain bikers pay a levy, too. We've never heard anyone complain that this system costs too much. We do hear people say it's the best system in the world. And our tax rate is lower here than in America, because New Zealand doesn't spend a Trillion dollars a year on "defense" etcetera. It just goes to show that good government can be done.

Kia Ora. David and Lili

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