I’m sitting in the YHA hostel in Napier, looking out of the window and watching the huge waves crash onto the beach across the road. It has been raining non-stop for about 48 hours… and it’s COLD. It’s OK though because I have the hot-lemon-tea-rabbit-food pellets a Dutch girl gave me in Auckland, and I’m rugged up in thermals and gloves. Plus, I know I don’t have to fully waterproof myself and walk 100 metres in the dark if I need to pee in the middle of the night.
Although the last two days of WWOOFing at Te Koha were cold and soggy (teaching me the value of Wellington boots over ‘water proof’ hiking boots that take 3 days to dry out), the first 6 days were sunny and glorious. I slept on my own in a converted shipping container, which actually seemed luxurious after sleeping in 10-bed dorms for most of my trip. I was a few steps away from the ‘smoko room’, which is where the WOOFers and the workers (fruit pickers) hung out and cooked. I came along just as the Easter holidays were starting and the ‘final pick’ was occurring, so it was really quiet and I shared with two guys throughout my stay as opposed to the 12 other people who had been there only a couple of weeks earlier. Over my week there I learnt to like cooking for myself again (rather than only cooking for my friends or with a boyfriend), and I realised that although I had the internet available to me day and night, it made me feel a bit unhappy and I preferred to have conversations, read books, go for walks or even do the dishes. The farm and its buildings reminded me of the house I lived in between the ages of 21 and 23 (24?), which is where I felt quite connected to my home and to the earth in general. It was a special place.
Here is my fellow WWOOFer Peter with a vegetable frittata and a red cabbage concoction with apples, vinegar, nutmeg and raspberry jam. OK so sometimes I did cook with another person, but I did it alone too!
The family who own and run the farm made me feel really welcome … all of the food I asked for was bought from the local organic shop and I was free to eat anything that was grown on the farm i.e. pumpkins, apples, feijoas, garlic, silverbeet, leeks, berries, zucchinis, all kinds of herbs… and more I can’t remember! All of the food is grown according to biodynamic principles. This means that some ‘whacky’ (in the words of the owners) stuff occurs such as making homeopathic preparations for the plants, burying them in cows’ horns, digging them up at the appropriate time of the lunar cycle and spraying them on nice still mornings. While I wouldn’t necessarily follow those practices myself, it’s always interesting to learn new things and the food looked and tasted damned good.
There were 3 gorgeous boys aged between 2 to 7 who were so affectionate and intelligent. On the second night their father invited me to the local pub with the pickers to celebrate the end of the apple season. At first I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t fit in and I would ruin their man-talk, but we ended up having an awesome time. Everyone was genuinely friendly and just really… gentle! I think it’s a Kiwi thing. At Easter I was invited to join the extended family for a walk at Maraetotara Falls which were really beautiful… Clare took a lot of pride in showing me the trees and birds that are native to New Zealand and explaining to me the re-plantation efforts of the community. The work I did included labelling juice bottles, weeding the crops, picking feijoas and packing fruit into crates for shipping orders. We were going to do some composting but the weather turned too horrible. Below is a picture of an amazing tree that was adjacent to the falls, being climbed on by Christopher and Clare, with Richard, Ben and their cousins in the foreground.
Two pretty awesome things happened while I was on the farm… one was that my friend booked her flights to Portugal to walk the camino, so then I did… which means it’s happening! Yay!
The other thing is that I heard back from Zoo Venues about the job interview I had via Skype on my last night with Kiwi Ex! They emailed me some information to look through before the interview, and thankfully I had lovely people with me who helped me to prepare; the girl at the hostel actually let me sit in their office with the door closed to it would be nice and quiet. I was a bit worried after the interview… luckily Team Filth were waiting for me at the pub and we went on to do not too badly in a pub quiz. I got an email on Sunday night letting me know that I got a position… YAY!! In an act of complete wankerdom I will cut and paste a paragraph from the interview that made me grin like an idiot and feel pretty awesome.
“Although we’re having to turn down a lot of people simply through not having enough vacancies for all the very impressive applicants, your interview was one of the most interesting and enjoyable of the year so far – with some really inspiring answers. That combination of the handy skills you’ve got from a totally different field of work plus all your arts knowledge and expertise is a brilliant one, plus as I said in the interview, there is one department in particular that ‘needs Australians…’
I’m therefore delighted to offer you a position with our Bar and Events team.”
I’ll be working in a pub/performance space and will be responsible for booking performers to gig in what will henceforth be known as ‘my bar’.
Hold on a sec… there is a third and final positive outcome of my week! I did 6 days of physical labour (not overly demanding, but using my body nonetheless), and I managed my muscles and nerves by myself and was not in any significant amount of pain. I used the knowledge I gained from my program in Perth and the book Explain Pain, as well as talking to a picker who used to be a professional climber and therefore knew a lot about muscle and nerve function in the shoulders. He gave me some extra tips for how to do the work in a way that wouldn’t leave me sore. Yew!