Winter is approaching on the South Island, NZ, south west of Christchurch in the Canterbury region, which is where they filmed the majority of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I am cycling in the morning with big over gloves and a winter fleece with the hood up. By midday a bikini would be the most appropriate attire for the weather. Each morning and evening there is a freeze dried frost in the air and hot coffee percolating everywhere.
May I have a coffee please? The response is long black or flat white thank you? Ahh, long black with milk please. The cafe clerk responds ahh, that’s a latte thank you. Ok, sorry, latte please. The next day in attempt to simplify things, I said, could I have a cappuccino please? The response is would you like chocolate or cinnamon in that thank you? I quickly use deductive reasoning and think that chocolate in a cappuccino is a mochaccino, isn’t it? But no, mochaccino is coffee, milk and chocolate not a cappuccino which is coffee, milk and chocolate or cinnamon. I still have no idea what flat white coffee is but I have learned that some people put a wee bit of milk in their long black but it is not called a flat white or a latte. And cinnamon in coffee? Well, that’s just called plain old good.
The folks here also say thank you when the North Americans say please. Just to add to the colorful conversation surrounding the amazing tasting drinks of confusion that arrive no matter what ends up happening during the ordering. I do have a college degree and I am of average intelligence but still can’t figure out how to order a coffee with any reasonable amount of confidence. It is a good thing they don’t offer the North American standards of skim, ½ and ½ or whole milk, I guess that’s because they wouldn’t want to complicate things.
Cycle Touring in an English speaking country should be far easier then in Asia where language barriers pop up like a bunion on a toe in sandals. But at times English to English translations are a necessary part of getting a beverage. When I was in a pub in Ireland I spent an evening translating for Jessica a cyclist from Holland who spoke fluent English. I translated fluent although accented English to North American English that the Irish folks who also speak English could readily understand. Jessica’s bicycle which was parked close by was also named Jessica so Jessica and Jessica tried to order a pear cider to drink. The bartender brought her a guinness. I drank her guinness and my guinness then helped Jessica and Jessica order a pear cider. I figured I better keep translating English to English for Jessica and Jessica before I ended up so saturated with guinness that I couldn’t speak at all.
In New Zealand the most popular expression I hear is good on you. Whether you cycle in New Zealand, eat 7 home baked cookies instead of 1 or camp for free by the river, the kiwis will say good on you. The Irish will say well done and in North America they will say good job. In South East Asia they will give you the thumbs up and in Mongolia you get a motorcycle honk. As long as the world remains this much fun I’ll enjoy my coffee here, there or anywhere with a honk and a good job topped off with a splash of cinnamon. Thank-you or is that please, who knows.