Leaving the farm was a hard thing to do. I was having so much fun there. I tried to remind myself: leaving places that make you happy is just part of traveling. Hopefully it’s a bittersweet experience that happens more.
I am writing this some two months later. So much seems to have happened since the end of January. All of it has made me happy!
One of the reasons I was okay with leaving Mangarara was that I had already lined up another job. It only took me a couple days to confirm the next job after deciding to look. My next gig would be working as a gardener at a home in Picton.
Picton is the port town for the Cook Straight ferries. If people know about it, that’s all they know about it. I was happy with this location because my family would be starting their New Zealand trip in Nelson a few weeks later. I wanted to be in Marlborough for the start of that.
Bluebridge may be the cheaper ferry but, I’ve taken it twice, both times it left late. This trip left over an hour late. I was supposed to arrive at 23:30 in Picton. By the time I got to the house Id be working at it was almost 02:00.
I was working for Sue and her dog Holly. I was nervous taking the job. You never know who you are going to be working for. I know nothing about her, her home, her values, her attitude, her lifestyle, nothing.
Both of them were waiting up for me. Sue is in the same position as me, nervous about the unknown, but for her, the stranger is in her house. We said a quick hello before the three of us headed to our separate beds.
Come morning, a more formal hello was made, a tour of the house, a list of gardening jobs to be done, and Holly showed me her ball which I was responsible for throwing every time she brought it to me.
The house was built in 1916. Sue’s grandparents bought it new. Back then, the only work in Picton was dock worker or freezing works. Sue grew up in the house with her sister Helen and both parents.
Over the course of two weeks and change, I met the cast of characters that are Sue’s friends, I learned a lot about her life, and even accidentally got to see a photo of her boobs from the 70s. (I’m sure she’ll love that I’m writing that!)
In their 20s Sue and her sister left New Zealand. First they landed in South Africa and lived int he apartheid state. That only lasted six months and they went off to London. They lived and worked in London, drinking, smoking, partying, and experimenting with LSD. (I guess I have a knack for connecting with like-minded people.)
Sue has had an impact on Picton. She was a teacher. She opened a cafe or two, sold them. She opened an ice cream parlor, sold it. Opened a classy second-hand store, sold it. I really enjoyed getting a tour of the small town. A minor detour from taking Holly to the dog park. She was certainly confused why we passed it without parking.
The first friend of hers I met was Gary. An ex-pot farmer who had his home seized by the police for growing, what I’ve been told, was top quality cannabis. He’s all tattooed up and comes around with a giant Bearded Collie named Ralph. Sue pays him to mow the lawn. Gary lived in San Diego for a time in the 70s. he had himself a Mexican wife and lived in Tijuana. Since losing his house he lives only on a government pension. Perhaps New Zealand should rethink ruining people’s lived for a plant.
The second friend I met was Millie. She’s a lesbian sailor who with her partner sailed around the worlds in the 70s. “Imagine a lesbian couple sailing into Oman and Yemen today and then think about back then,” Sue explained to me. Hell of a story!
Millie was an angel to me. I told her I was curious about sailing because I have never done it before. She called her friend right then. When she got of the phone she told me I could go sailing with them tomorrow.
The next day I was sailing with Greg (Kiwi) and his partner Kate (Indianian). We were racing in the local yacht club race. We got second-to-last place. I went out with them again the next week and we came in third.
There is an older couple that Sue hangs out with as well. They live across town, so a two minute drive. She tells me they have lived a very sheltered life. So when the topic of drugs and harm prevention came up it was a little scary for them. They can’t relate. They spent their lives in Christchurch, then moved to Picton and raised their kids. That’s it. I couldn’t relate. I never wanted to stay in one place.
The last guy I met was Henk. He’s the son of Sue’s neighbor and an old, gay, pothead. He came up from Christchurch to take care of his mother. He brought along his dog Suuz. He’s Dutch but grew up in New Zealand. He lived in the Netherlands for 20 years. [I recently caught up with him in Christchurch.
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Sue was kind enough to watch my car while I left to meet my family. We parked it on the road to block the trucks from parking in front of her house. Picton is overrun by semitrucks blocking all the roads parking waiting for the morning ferry or for daybreak to leave. The residents hate them. In fact, I haven’t yet heard a kiwi say anything nice about truck drivers.
I hitched to Nelson. It took me about half an hour to get out of Picton. Some cute girls beat me to the spot and, of course, were picked up before me! I eventually got a ride from a chef who dropped me in Blenheim at the junction for Nelson.
Ten minutes later I got picked up by a Maori guy who works in the vineyards driving a harvester tractor. We had a few road beers, talked about our mutual dislike of weed, but love for psychedelics, the Maori culture, and the meaning of life. He was a good cunt! I wished him well when he dropped me off at the visitor center in Nelson.
I spent two nights in Nelson waiting for my family. Luckily, a friend from Auckland was in town. We got together for burgers and made plans to hike in Nelson Lakes National Park.