WWOOFing in Northland

I’ve spent the past few days WWOOFing in Peria, near Taipa and Kiataia. I do a few hour of labor for them and they provide me with room and board. As you can see from the last post, I haven’t always been at my best here.
But I believe I have figured out why sometimes I feel so shitty when I wake up. It’s one of my goals for traveling, for being on working holiday: to overcome negative thinking.
I enjoy the work. I work outside everyday. Most the tasks are the homestead busy work: stack firewood, cut kindling, pick up horse poop, dig. I’ve done some more random things too like: harvest gravel from a river, harvest bamboo, and clear a drainage ditch. On the day I wrote this I worked a few extra hours to sand some doors that will be painted.
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They’re build a new bathhouse structure from adobe. It’s absolutely beautiful. a friend of theirs was here to build in the door frames and hang the doors in. Today (July 5th) he cut the wood from larger timber to fit, crafted some tug-and-grove, and the lumber was oiled up for protection. A few more coats will be added in the coming days.
Being here excites me to do all this myself. Their home, while not perfect in their eyes, is handmade by them. The material is most recycled, salvaged goods. It’s beautifully put together. And, now that their kids have all moved out, it’s size works.
They’re off the grid. Their winter heating comes from a wood stove (which doubles as a hot water heater). The electric power comes from both a solar voltaic system and micro hydropower.
A good percentage of their food is home grown. All the veggies come from in a few meters of the kitchen. The property is littered with fruit trees. Apples, citrus, banana, avocado, various nuts. It’s quite impressive. All year they have different fresh fruit to pick.
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My hosts own a sculpture business

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Feeding horses. I picked up wheel barrels full of their shit. It’s excellent compost.

Seeing how they did all this without a huge budget makes me want to fly home, buy property, and start building myself. I could start collecting salvaged and dumpstered wood, find bits and pieces to use for home construction, furniture, all that good stuff. Start planting fruit trees so in a couple years I’m swimming in fresh fruit. There are a couple problems with this though.
There are still many places in the world I want to see. I’m definitely not ready to lock myself into a few dozen acres, even if it is a few hundred. I know in the future I will want that. For now, I need to travel around. Besides being here I’ve learned a lot. Not just how to do it, but how not to do it. I’ve thought of things I would have initially out. I know what features in a handmade house are more important to me now.
If anything being here has made me realize I want to visit a lot more homestead, permaculture farms, and intentional communities so I can absorb as much as possible before setting in  my roots.
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My host and I after a football game. They need an extra player a guy who hasn’t played since he was ten was good enough. I never ran so much in my life! But i was able to kick the ball a bit and even stole it a few times.

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Cold & Alone

05 July 2017
near Peria, Northland, New Zealand
There is a difference between not wanting to get out of bed and not being able to. This morning my body was weighed down into the mattress. My thoughts pinning me down like the middle evil torture where rocks are piled until you’re crushed to death.
At this stage, after sleeping/before waking, my thoughts are particularly cruel. They always have been.  They’re reminding me of my need for affection whilst my bed is empty.
I can try to hug myself. But it only does so much. I believe one must truly love themselves first to get all the nourishment they need from self love. Perhaps I just need more practice with self love.
And, no not masturbation. The act of self fucking will inevitably only make me more lonely. [Who’s going to clean up the cum?]
The only thing I can really do is get up and start my day. Cold and alone. Perhaps the distractions of my responsibilities will help me forget I’m lonely.
I spend my days working in silence. I can hear the river running through the property. I can hear the birds in the trees. I hear myself cutting wood or digging holes. I can hear the rain coming down on my borrowed rain jacket. Louder than
everything else though, I hear my thoughts.
When I finish work, I’m back in square one. Cold and Alone.

Leaving Auckland

(June 25-ish)
My coworker and I have been sleeping in a trailer behind a hostel. The floors are muddy and the sheets are dirty. Our roommates are some spiders in the cupboards. The last tenant used it to deal meth and smoke in privacy. But the worst part about it is I can feel the fucking springs inside the mattress. They haven’t much spring left in them anymore.
Sunday morning and are stay is over. I have no where else to go. No plans made. I don’t want to extend my stay. The Lion’s Cup is in town and every bed in Auckland is booked, prices are up. I’ve been talking to some WWOOF hosts. Perhaps I should finalize with them? Either way I’m leaving now.
Well, I’m leaving at 12:50 P.M. (June 25th). I’m taking the bus to Whangarei. I use my time between breakfast and the bus leaving to send some last minute couchsurfing requests. Hopefully someone replies.
I walk from the hostel to the Parnell Train Station. It’s first uphill. Then downhill. Then back up the hill again. The bus stop is only one stop away. Britomart.
While sitting on the bus I get a message on the Couchsurfing App from Alex. He has agreed to host me and will be picking me up at the bus stop. That’s fantastic.
Alex is a 74 year old New Zealander. He has hosted over 360 couchsurfers in the past few years. He says yes to everyone who sends him a request.
I’ve spent the last few days with Alex. The WWOOF host in Whangarei never replied to me. Alex didn’t mind me staying. We’ve been hanging out watching movies in the evening. Been pretty relaxing since leaving the hostel.
The other day Alex took me around town. I saw some waterfall, I saw some middle-aged Kauri trees, and I pet and hand feed a kiwi.
I’m leaving today. I got a bus up to Taipa. I’m heading to WWOOF up there.
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I don’t remember the name of this waterfall

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Big ol’ Kauri Tree

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I forgot to mention my host, Alex, and I found these four puppies abandoned on the side of the road

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Me with a Kiwi

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Whangarei

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Whangarei

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Like an idiot, I totally spaced on taking a photo of myself with the Alex! 😦 Here is a pic of the living “Paris When It Sizzles” on the screen

 

Fieldays

It’s 4:30 A.M. I’ve woken up before my five a.m. alarm in the top bunk of the eight person dorm room. I can’t go back to sleep. I climb down the ladder in my boxers. I can barely see anything.

Pulling up my pants I feel self conscious as I hear others sitting in their bunks. “Oh no, did I wake them?” Cursing myself for being so inconsiderate. I have to remind myself I’m being super nice getting up before my alarm goes off. “This is a hostel! Fuck them” I think chuckling inside.

After dragging my bags into the hallway I call a car to take me to work. My phone vibrates letting me know the driver is arriving as I brush my teeth and wash the sleepers from my eyes.

The area around my work is an industrial area. No one lives here. It’s just offices with storage yards. The sun still yet to rise and the dead quiet of the street in an unknown area creates a mildly eerie vibe. The sun has yet to rise. I dropped my bags on the ground by a tree under their mailbox, fifteen minutes early. How did that happen?

I got a job building event displays. We are heading two hours south of Auckland to work at Fieldays. The company is putting me up in a house down there and feeding me dinner. This is the perfect job for a backpacker: accommodation, dinner, and a paycheck.

Lights shine into my face as a car pulls up into the gate. It’s 6:04. They’re late.

After the first day of work we head to the Hamilton house. My two coworkers are sharing a room, my two bosses are sharing a room, they send me down the short, cold hallway to a room of my own. What a treat after a week of uncomfortable living in hostel.

I make myself comfortable by emptying my backpack and spreading my clothes across the room. Having been feeling a little depressed. I use the freedom of privacy in my own room to stretch my back with yoga, leading into a guided mediation.

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Inside the Marquee

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Friendly Neighbors at the Hamilton House

The week ended and we are heading back to Auckland. I feel nervous about going back to the hostel. I feel comfort in knowing a few people there. I feel refreshed from my time alone. Things are starting to look up.

 

The next few weeks are spent in a similar way. I go down to Hamilton Monday through Friday and live in Auckland on the weekends. A few things change. I now share my room with a new coworker, Finn, a twenty-one year old German guy. I don’t let this stop me from meditating and doing yoga. He never says anything about it.

 

On the weekends, I start to share hostels with my coworkers to save money on uber. I switched hostels. My coworker Sven is way more social than I. As I walk in from the street I see him sitting with a handful of people sharing beers, cigarettes, and stories. I sit down. Immediately, I’m offered a beer from an older Islander named Kali.

Before I can finish the beer I am drinking, Kali opens and hands me two more. Over the course of a couple twelve packs I learn that he is in Auckland working. He is a building a building down by the wharf.

He and his partner are from Tonga. A small island nation north of New Zealand. They share their romantic history with us. They both have had other partners, even been married, but they knew the entire time they were meant to be together. They’re both alcoholics. They are super generous and just keeping giving away the beers and cigarettes they’ve bought even though it’s clear they don’t have much money.

“It’s the Tongan way. We share what we have with people who don’t have their own drink. We don’t think anything of it. It’s just beer. Why not share?”

I am reminded about how much money I have saved up. I am reminded by the opportunities I have had that got me here. I am reminded by the safety net back home waiting to catch me if I fail abroad. It reminds me that these people without much are willing to share with me. What do I share?

I start thinking about how odd it is that i think so much just from sharing a beer with other people.  Lost in a mental loop of thinking about thinking. They notice that I’m zoning. “You alright mate,” asks Kali. “I’m great.” How can I explain the depth of feelings I have just felt from getting a few free beers. I can’t believe that a few free beers remind me that I’m not living up to my morals.

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Putting Down the Flooring

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A Bunch of “Project Mangers” Not Really Doing Anything

It’s another Monday morning and we are heading back down to Hamilton. Monday night after work we arrive home at the Hamilton house. It’s a cold cinder block structure. It’s freezing and unwelcoming. It’s home. I have been living here longer than anywhere else in New Zealand so far.

I feel comfort in the routine. Start a fire after work, dinner at 6:30P.M., provided by the host (unless she forgets), early bed time, wake up at 6:30A.M. before everyone else and eat breakfast alone, and then off to work. We do this every day Monday night to Friday morning.

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After Work Bonfire

Working a thoughtless, do-what-you-are-told construction job provides me with ample time to think. I can notice how the quality of the task I need to complete and the weather play a role in my attitude. When the weather is cold and wet and I have to just move heavy things around I challenge my decision to come here, to work this job. When I get the opportunity to do a little problem solving I feel much more proud of myself at the end of the day.

The truth is though, I don’t give a shit about this job. The project is for a client I don’t care about. I get paid regardless of the quality of my work, and my managers are annoyingly unorganized. What I learned is that if I want to do a good job I need to do it for myself. I need to take pride in my work for myself and no one else.

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I put the entire second coat down on this floor. This is it with only the first. While doing the staining, I tried to (and in my opinion did) do a perfect job just to prove to myself I could.

I didn’t include any pictures with branding because the client didn’t pay me to. No free advertising.