|583> a WWOOFie cycling NZ searching for the present (in 1990), for experience to flow thru unfiltered in tears|
[15 June 2018 | Rome> Aint been nowhere these past few weeks + nada to report so we'll continue to ketch up on transcribing journels... there's a gap actually, in 1990, coinciding w/ where we're at in writing vol II of 'SSEY" so we'll plug that hole. Last we left off, we—or Telemachus, rather—was crewing on the Adelaar from Fiji to New Zealand... + then there's a stray entry he posted from the boat. But he didn't document how after the storm he arrived in New Zealand, got a bike + rode around the north island working on farmstays + generally being a bum.]
Sept 22 
One of those book + Walkman days on the deck of the ship.Wanted to stop + take a swim as there was absolutely no wind or waves, would’ve been a rush, but B [the faceless captain] didn’t want to take any chances stopping the engines [already lost the reverse thrust bearing]. We all just lounged around gazing in different directions slowly drifting along. I figured we needed some more wind so i made a pot of chili. Took me all day. Everyone was surprised cuz they all thought we’d run out of options besides canned food. It was getting pretty disgusting, whoever had kitchen duty would just randomly put 9 or so cans of whatever together into a pot. So my chili "con corny" was relatively gourmet. I even made a loaf of homemade garlic-parmesan bread. Played chess w/ B then 6 of us played a Dutch version of Monopoly w/ different property names + could only guess what the cards said, or we’d ask B, the referee who meanwhile was hacking away on his wireless. It’s amazing the communication network you can set up w/a shortwave.
Chug chug chug, motoring up against the outgoing current, into the wind. We have arrived! Sweet land, lush and green, spiring cliffs. Just yesterday we were still at sea, another beautiful calm day. We set some huge speakers on the deck + cranked tunes, our own private middle of the ocean boat party. Just the fish + us. And the sun. Towards dusk the wind picked up, a nice breeze that filled the sails + built up swells. We caught 2 big tuna which S + C turned into shepherds pie. I pleaded H to give me the 4-6 a.m. shift instead of the miserable 2-4 a.m. shift but she had plans for a rendezvous w/ J [more gossip about the on-ship romances + all the debaucherous partying, people getting so drunk they had to be restrained to keep them from falling off the ship]. I’ll sure be glad to get away from some of these people. The 4-6 a.m. watch was incredible. I could see dark shapes of land + was overwhelmed by the indescribable smell of land, a smell we take for granted, like the taste of water. You only know the smell if you’ve been away from land for a while at sea. I could smell it first from miles away—flowers and plants and sheep, maybe pheromones, dirt. The air is full of subconscious pheromones. I baked a big batch of oatmeal raisin cookies while it got light. Patterns of green started to emerge opposite to the brilliant sunrise. There were lots more birds, of different variety besides just albatross + gulls. I saw a cloud suddenly appear in the corner of my eye when i realized it was a whale! I rousted everyone up + we saw a bunch more whales for the next hour. Then 2 dolphins that swam back + forth under the bow, escorting us to NZ, playfully jumping over eachother. Jagged intense cliff forms emerged amidst rolling green hills, reminiscent of a small Big Sur. B pointed out his farm [that he bought from selling the boat, this being it’s final voyage]. As we rounded the cape + were pulling down the sails we got a very close glimpse of land. Bright yellow + green bushes + yucca trees, strange unfamiliar plants + landscapes. A small boat appeared, it was T + the kids [B’s family] + some man… a happy homecoming. We handed them our cameras + they took distant shots. For customs/immigrations reasons they weren’t allowed to board + vice-versa so are just following us. We still have yet to touch land though we have penetrated 2 hours into the interior in green brackish water. H just made his excellent Norwegian fish soup + we have another couple of hours before we clear customs then the experience of being reunited w/ land. Parting makes the heart fonder, as they say.
Customs—we ran out of gas so had to be tugged by customs the last stretch. Friends of B. People coming down to the docks to welcome him home. I wanted to pet a dog on the tug boat but they would’ve had to quarantine the dog. Finally men in ties came on board w/ briefcases going thru all our food + drawing circles on lemons + collecting little bugs. Our food supply was a biologist’s dream. The customs people were pretty funny + laid back. We then had to be pulled into be docked between 2 big freighters, which is our home for now. To get to shore we have to clamber over this fishing boat under repair + up onto a freighting dock + thru a timber mill + follow train tracks into town. The “town” feels like it belongs in Oregon. The locals seem terrified of us, i don’t blame them. A fine lot we are, unshaven, stinky, filthy clothes + big rain coats. The first night we spent hours finding a teller machine that would accept L’s card + never found 1. Then we went to pizza hut to satisfy my seasick dreams. Walking back we got lost + walked 45 min in the wrong direction until some man felt sorry for us + drove us back to our ship. Seems everyone knows who we are, the hobos from the Adelaar.
I have moved now from the kitchen to my room cuz J as usual is shit-faced + loud + it seems I’m offending him by being quiet in writing in this journal. He’s itching to start a fight with me, not sure why. I told him to be quiet cuz B + T + the kids were sleeping + he sez “fack off, they’re already asleep, besides der boring as hell.” I ignore him + he stutters “am i annoying you? Oh, i see, you are ignoring me?” To which i give him more silence which pisses him off even more. Real kiwi redneck. They only person not really annoying me is C. I am ready to hit the road. Today was national errand day. Found a few farmstays + possibly a bike. Called + they are going to bring it for me to look at. Went to Pak’N’Save + stocked up on trail mix + mueslix bars. Bought a new C harmonica. Got a cappuccino. Went to the pub w/ C + S + played pool. Hitchhiking home we got a ride w/ these guys who knew we were on the Adelaar so they gave us a ride on their tugboat. First time I’ve hitched a ride on a boat! The others were sitting in the kitchen when this big tugboat pulls up + we hopped off casually + thanked them for the ride. The boat next to us finally parted w/ it’s full load of kiwis + left behind crates of perfectly good ones for us (since they are ripe they are no good to them, will be rotten by the time they get to their destination). The ship was massive, cool to watch it leave. Must have been over 100 meters long + had Japanese sailors waving bye. The tugboat guys informed us that our boat was just a little baby (15,000 tons) while that freighter is 240,000 tons. Can’t even fathom that.
I’ll probably stick around for another day as i get free room + board for just helping clean the boat a few hours a day + B + T + the kids are nice. They told me all about how they built this boat from scratch, the metal working, masts, woodworking, etc. Yet they have to sell it, they don’t seem to mind so much given the land they'll get for it in return. They are quite multinational, he’s Swiss, she’s Dutch, 1 kid born in NZ + 1 kid born in Spain. They have all sorts of crazy stories. Hippy friends that built these amazing houses out of unfinished wood + no power tools, old men that take their canoes out to see for weeks at a time eating nothing but bird’s eggs from some remote island, just for the hell of it, 67 yrs old + buying a boat + sailing for 70 days straight by themselves, alone. Nobody but ocean. Well i should turn out the light cuz M’s asleep. Oh yah (morning ponderings now) the guy that built houses from scratch w/nothing but his bare hands is the son of the old canoe man. He has another brother that builds these amazing harps by hand, everything on them + a sister that plays the harps + they are both world famous. When you ask the parents what the secret was to raising these kids, they responded that they didn’t let them watch TV otherwise were allowed to do anything they wanted as along as they finished whatever they started. This points out the faults in my mom’s line of reasoning... sure, she lets us do whatever we want, but she doesn’t care whether we finish whatever it is we're doing. It’s all about following through.
Day of panicked preparations, woke + said goodbye to S, H, J + L. My clutziness was avalanching… first in an attempt to retrieve T’s boot which fell in the water i climbed down this rope + picked it up w/ my feet but then i dropped it + it sunk + i got stains on my pants again. Then as i was saying goodbye to S she knocked my coffee cup + it smashed on the wharf. At 10 this trendy Michelle Shocked-looking girl w/ wraparound glasses + magenta socks drove up with some old man + the bike. She didn’t tell me it was a women’s bike + was too stingy to bargain. I dropped off my clothes at the Laundromat + went to the lawnmower store (someone said they had bikes) but no luck. Another bicycle store then a motorcycle store. He had a bright red bike out in back, $150 NZ. With the panier saddlebags, water bottle, pump, patch kit, lock, tubes, etc. It came out to $280 NZ. ($176 US). I was set. He let me use all the tools in back to put it all together + get it all adjusted. The Telecomm store was next door, so i called S [his X…]. Stopped by the Kiwi factory + they gave me all the kiwis we could eat, been eating them all day. Just taught M how to make bracelets. I feel siked, I’ve got clean clothes + sleeping bag. I’ve got all my stuff in the rear saddlebags, within in garbage bags in case it rains. That’s it. The rest of my stuff i sent ahead to Christchurch. I found work at a farm 35 km from here so I’ll go there in the morning. Onward i say, from boat to bike. From sailor to farmer.
I must have woken up at 6 a.m. i was so excited to leave. (There’s a dog now chewing on my pen named Flint). I would have left then but i felt i should wait for M + C. Then carried my bike up onto the dock + dropped my pump in the water. Then i just rode off. Dropped my backpack off at the bus station to part company with it until 2 months, in Christchurch. Met the boys for breakfast (capuccinos + muffins) then spastically did last minute errands—rain jacket, locks, new pump, more work on bike, $ etc. by the time I left it was 1 p.m. I was off. I couldn't believe it. For once on the trip I was alone. Nobody but me. Infinite opportunities. Hit a couple of quaint small towns then finally the open countryside. Rolling hills of green pastures. Cow, sheep, goats + deer everywhere. Steinbeck would have loved it, almost like Steinbeck country but then you come across exotic tropical plants + prehistoric looking giant ferns. Passed through towns with names like Kamo, Kikurangi + Whakapura without knowing i passed through them. I was so into the landscape (at times i had an urge to just yell for no reason) that i went 5 km past the turnoff. I would stop some farmer to ask directions + couldn't get away without a 15 minute conversation, "California, oh yah... took my kids there 3 years ago." Eh, oh, yah, eh. Road turned to gravel, past a lumber mill + overflowing creeks. Every time i would stop to look at my map, I would look up + a stampede of cows would be running towards me thinking i was going to feed them. (There's a gray cat now purring on my lap as i sit writing this, bare feet in front of a woodstove). I came around a corner + almost hit a herd of cows. These 2 obvious backpackers stumbled out of the bushes w/ cattle prods. Everything in disarray, cows wandering every which way. "You must be looking for the farm stay," they said. So this is what i would have to do, herd cows? "Yep, and a lot more." I got off my bike + helped them herd them in, A and —shit, i'm terrible w/ names. Babied English young ones. I was immediately given rubber knee-high rubber boots to be shown around. Ended up shoveling wood chips (calf bedding) for 2 hours. There's 4 travellers working here. All Brits. The other 2 are M + N, quarreling brothers who have done nothing all day except argue over how to keep the milk pails from getting mud on them. Hours on end. N even got paper out to draw up a plan. The little calves were really cute. They get their milk (powdered) from rubber nipples coming out of a barrel. I wonder what this does to them psychologically, thinking a plastic barrel is mom. I get back to the house + C + A were there w/ their 2 kids, O + J. They are organic Green Peace freaks. He used to sail on the Rainbow Warrior. Like B he is a yachtie turned farmer. Had a nice tea of crackers, hummus, cheese, sprouts, coleslaw + fruit. Yum. And now i sit in front of this fire w/ the cat purring + the others are all bitching about how they are overworked + underpaid, feeding me all sorts of horror stories of what to expect.
Zzz. Yawn. Yum. Squish. Moo. Plop. Grunt. Mmm. Ahm. Mmph. Eh. Chit. Splip. Yum. Chat. Yawn. Zzz. A day in the life of a NZ famer in gutteral sounds. It's cold as hell here. Went to the bunkhouse last night + they were all smoking cigarettes. I opened the window + wafts of cold air + miserable sand flies came in. They didn't catch a clue. Really getting on my nerves. Whining + bitching + complaining + moaning in their hideous British accents. "Tis not fair. This wasn't how it sounded in our volunteer conservation projects handbook." For chrissake if you don't agree w/ how shit's run here then why not bring it up or ship out? I tried to tune out + sleep in that cold smokey bunk house with a pig living under it.
Next morning i woke up + went out + did various odd jobs. Helping herd the cows out then hacking thistles up in the bush paddock. Welcome to organic farming. The true martyrs of the world. Hacking weeds or squishing bugs by hand. And then your neighbor is using all sorts of pesticides + making much more money. Jacking his calves up w/ steroids. But it was beautiful, chasing the big furry sheep way up on top of these rolling hills + hacking thistles left + right w/ a machete. When i got back I decided to try some fishing. There's this muddy creek running through their property. I went for about an hour without a bite or seeing any fish. Walking on the way back i casually tossed the fly in this pool + saw this big rainbow sluggishly scoop it up then spit it out. I tried again, but he bent the hook! Switched to worms. Again, he scooped it up then always spit it out. Finally i hooked it but knew i'd lose it when i pulled it out. Sure enough. I went back to get a net but it was too dark by then. Listened to the whiny lazy poms chat + complain all night. They must think i'm an unsocial asshole (wearing a walkman), but i'd rather chill in solitude.
Today was probably a typical day on a farmstay. Woke up late, started reading Kerouac's On the Road after finishing Tom Wolfe's Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby then tried fishing some more. Didn't mind not catching anything. I just kept following the stream through prehistoric elf forests w/ strange birds then though pastures of cows + sheep. Had lunch then called home. D's getting married next March. J's moving to Argentina on Wednesday. Evidently they sent packages to Fiji that i didn't get cuz i changed my plans + left early on the boat. After this did the evening shift. Mixed over 200 liters of milk (in the bathtub), 1750 g of powdered milk in 6 liters of boiling water (after sanitizing bucket). Beat it with the mixer. Dilute to 18 lukewarm liters, all 14 times. Then make 3 liters of scouring solution (for cows w/ diarrhea). Dextrose and electrolytes. Then go up + herd cows into pens. Pour the milk concoction in the barrel w/ rubber nipples. The calves slurp like crazy. Meanwhile herd 8 big cows into these stalls + let groups of calves come feed off them. Then swap the mothers out, they do it so casually + haggard like it's their job (even tho not their calves). Then herd them back out to pasture. A lot of herding and sorting. In the dark as the generator was out of petrol. There were kiwi birds whistling in the background. Heard but rarely seen (nocturnal). Fetch water from the river in pails. Put grain in the bins, spread hay in the mud paddock. All in all it took C + i less than 4 hours to do a job that has been taking him + the whiney Brit brothers 6 hours. Lazy sods. They left today, bitching that it was too much work... good riddance. I enjoy this lifestyle. Nothing like getting back + taking off the shit + mud covered wellies then sitting down to a wonderful meal (A's a pretty good cook). Cool people, but stressed out, their 1st year doing this. Doesn't help that she makes a nice marinara sauce + the Brits pour ketchup all over it! No respect. Makes it more interesting, having to be more inventive w/ what resources you have. I didn't enjoy seeing the calf that is ½ dead. Laying with head back + eyes rolling back in it's head. I would pick it up + it's legs would buckle back under like rubber. I really love the Dexter-Jerseys, these small docile cows meant to be sort of pets, enough milk for a family. Adorable + gentle little creatures that want to be pet + suckle on your fingers. Especially 4221, I've become quite attached to her. And the other Dexter that's sick. I had to carry her all the way from the outer paddock into the barn. The fire is dead and everybody has gone to sleep.
Oct. 1, 1990
Things are becoming routine enough that maybe it's time to go. Wake up with relatively warm feet but an ice cold nose. I never know whether it's early or late in the morning. Read On the Road for an hour or 2 (it's okay, Kerouac kind of strikes me as a pompous frat boy) then get up get coffee and homemade mueslix + fruit. Maybe go fishing + of course never catch anything or read in front of the fire. Lunch comes round then at 2 or 3 begins the fun. Whip up batches of milk for the cows. Getting sick of the smell. Load 140 liters of the stuff into the old blue "Holden" station wagon + drive up the windy muddy road over a wood bridge, feels like i'm bootlegging liquor or something. Park the car. Mud past your ankles everywhere. Opening + closing gate after gate. I've carried so many milk pails starting to feel like a knuckle-scraping ape. Pour them into the big blue barrel that is mother to the calves, who fight over the 12 nipples, bumping you so ½ the milk gets spilled on their heads + then they start licking each other. They suck on everything in sight, fingers, raincoat, crotch, ass, really quite obnoxious, you have to resist the urge to smack them. Sort them into groups of 10 to feed on the real mothers. They'll get down + won't get up, always in your way. Opening gates + closing them. Sort them into 6 pens as they fart + squirt diarrhea all over. Covered w/ mud + shit, some have diarrhea squished on their faces. All moaning + bleating. It's something out of a nightmare. If i wasn't already a vegetarian i would be now, makes me question even eating cheese [why he chose to work on an organic dairy farm, to expose himself to it]. The only light is my flashlight which adds to the affect of it being a secret prison camp of some sort. Bring pail after pail of milk as fast as they can suck it up. They're greedy mouths sucking, foaming + frothing from all sides. Threads of slime, sticky milk mucus + shit stick to your hands. Check + fill H2O, then calf pellets + hay. The sick need to be force-fed medicine, shove tube down their throat as they bellow + eyes roll back in their heads. Yesterday when i arrived 1 was dead. Stiff + bloated w/ it's eyes opened. C kept working around it but eventually helped me lift it into a wheelbarrow. The legs stuck out + wouldn't fit thru the door. He tried to bend them but they wouldn't budge, rigor mortis had already set in. He looked so annoyed i thought he was going to break the leg off. Then the 32 mothers needed to be herded in from the field. After working w/ the calves they seem gargantuan. Huge swollen teats swinging between their legs as they walk, they know where to go, they want to, they need to, bursting at the seams, bellowing in anger. Like clockwork, an assembly line, they file in, mud up to their "elbows". Drive them into a narrow dead end slot + slide in a board so they can't back out, 8 at a time. Then let the batches of calves have at it. They greedily attack the mothers thru the slats, the cows kicking + hanging their heads, bellowing. The calves jerk + prod violently at the udders, trying to get more + more milk. Give them a a few minutes then next batch. Do this again 4 times, herding in, herding out. Mothers back to pasture. Calves back in the paddock. At some point i return to make 7 more pails (140 liters) of milk + back up to the still hungry calves that sound like Tibetan monks with their low bellowing. Some you have to teach how to feed, aggravating as hell, they don't understand the rubber nipples. So C says let them suck your fingers which sorta hurts, then lure then over to the barrel. But then they try to suck your elbow or ass as u walk away. Something creepy about how C says, "they'll suck anything." And then when all's done he tells me go ahead back to the house, he "has some things to finish up" but won't say what. I offer to help w/ these last vague chores, but he says that's ok, he'll see me at dinner. Hmm. The smell of milk starting to repulse me, maybe i'll cut dairy out of my diet + become completely vegan. They have no rights, leading lives of sheer misery... + these cows are comparatively lucky, "organic" + supposedly "humane" + free-ranging. Yah, right. Drinking powdered milk from a barrel? We merely use them as machines to turn grass + grains into milk + meat w/ most of the nutrients being farted or shit away. Mammoth black + white beasts w/ huge fearful eyes hooving the mud + breathing steam through their nostrils into the cold night.
Oct 2, 1990
Split that dairy joint after phoning Fiji + Cook Islands + asking them to forward my mail. Rarotonga said there was nothing. Didn't even wait for my clothes to dry. Just took off after fixing my bike so it wouldn't pop out of low gear. Backtracked on the gravel road. Hit the main road to Helena Bay. Got there + discovered the road was no longer paved. And I had 56 km to go. I became united w/ sweet mother Pacific. I could picture the Adelaar going south along the same coast, about 2 weeks ago. Would have never imagined i'd be here now, back then looking at this same coastline. Guess it's always like that. Like the other day i was fishing, squatting down + stood up fast and got a major head rush, my head felt really strange, the sound of the river became very defined + i suddenly realized where i was, like really present. In the moment. I was greedy + tried to grab onto the feeling + it fleeted, lasted only for a second. I was left standing there alone in a forest in nothern N.Z. Now i was going north hardly faster than the Adelaar was south. Over large rolling hills, some so steep w/ gravel that i had to walk the bike up. Slid in the gravel into the ditch a few times. Through Maori settlements + sleepy fishing villages. Pasty white men w/ white hair + pudgy cheeks dotted w/broken blood vessels, carrying buckets from the sea. Foreign couples on quaint farms, chasing goats obviously new to farming. Went for hours without seeing cars. I did see 2 other bikers. Loaded w/ baggage + fancy equipment. And me on my cheapo 10-speed. My saddlebags jammed in the rear wheel + tore the protective plastic off. Another hill. Another corner. Calm inlets + bays everywhere w/aqua-green clear water. Huff, puff. Sweating my way. Dark rain clouds everywhere but none unleashed on me at least. Just a few showers which didn't even justify my raincoat, now covered in cow shit. Now I'm at the Ovangi bay lodge, a nice clean quaint campground full of the kind of backpackers you see in travel brochures. Clean colorful backpacks w/ never used sleeping bags + nicely combed hair, talking about the prices of everything + watching TV. And me in the kitchen with my mouth full of chocolate chip cookies. They didn't have a tent site, but let me pitch my tent in the garden. Took a long hot shower, had some canned herring over brown rice + now sit here pondering what there is to do in this "bay of islands" area.
Rode into Russell—a quaint little town that reminds me of Sausalito. Yuppy couples with wool sweaters strolling hand in hand, looking in shops + exclaiming "how cute" at everything. I got some fish + chips wrapped in newspaper, salty + oily, the English way + took them to the end of the pier. Watched YHA backpackers (you can tell by the patches they all put on their packs) paying upwards of $49 to take a 2 hour boat ride into the bay of islands. Fed these little feisty birds french fries out of my hand much to the dismay of squawking seagulls. Went to the P.O. to try to send oversized postcards—8 of them—but she wanted $2.50 a piece. If they were ½" narrower they'd only be a buck. I contemplated cutting the bottoms off. I pleaded with the woman + finally just folded them in ½ + sent them for 1.00 then got apple pie + coffee. Parked my bike + walked along the coast. Beautiful jagged coastline with tidepools full of skeleton-looking kelp [drew pic]. The point was guarded by noisy nesting gulls that wouldn't let me approach. Cut up into the bush on this trail, smelled sweetly of decay + there was all these fern trees. Tremendous view of bay of islands, a well deserved name. A series of bays broken by hundreds of jagged islands. Went back to the campground then took another walk to the top of this big hill... past a farm with a hippy homemade camper on the back of a converted meat truck with the door open. Lights on but nobody home. Past dead cow carcasses lying in the river bed + a big black rat chewing on the bones. Up rugged hills by a gang of shaggy Bohemian goats with long wispy goatees + twisted horns. I heard strange noises + loud trampling in the bush but never figured out the source. Got to the top + had a splendid view. Started reading but fell asleep. Woke up w/ a chill wondering where the hell i was, felt like Rip Van Winkle. I scared a bird i initially thought was a kiwi but then remembered kiwis don't have wings + this 1 flew. A bird without wings, strange concept. That lays eggs 1/4 of it's body size. Just made curried rice + beans + finished On the Road (overrated) + the other campers here in the communal room are watching a stupid show on TV about a frat boy that falls in love w/ a hippie revolutionary chick.
It's bloody cold here. And wet. Last night my sleeping bag became soaking wet just from dew and/or my evaporation. Everything damp + cold. Saturated. Dew dripping all inside my tent. Got up + shook the dew. Rode to Russell + hopped the ferry, didn't see much cuz some boring Canadian girl was talking to me the whole way. Got off + started riding + my bike started falling apart. The rear carrier just broke off + the side bags went crashing down into my spokes + one of them ripped open. Somehow managed to cobble it all back together for the last 4 km until i got to Haruna Falls where i found this little campground where i could pitch my tent right next to the falls. Rode back to Paihia, had some negatives developed, got bolts to fix my bike, looked around town. Went to some shipwreck museum that cost $4.50, i could see it all from the entrance, rusty spoons + such so didn't bother. It started pouring + i got very wet + took shelter back in Paihia, sat in a cafe + had a beer + some garlic bread + played the jukebox. Got all melancholy listening to "Nothing Compares 2 U" + the rain kept pouring. I was cold + wet + my raincoat reeked of cowshit. The owner was dropping hints for me to leave so i went + sat in front of the hardware store + watched the rain. Finally it let up so i took off like a madman, but then it started to pour when i got back to the tent. Everything soaking wet. I just didn't want to deal with it, tho i did have garbage bags that i got in town, for just this reason. I went into the kitchen + started sewing my saddlebags, a long procedure. I realized there was a "community room" off in the corner of the campground, a converted wood shed with a pool table! Some cute German girl K was in there + told me it was okay to sleep in here, yaw. So i moved my stuff in here + have been sewing + talking to these 2 Germans. It's cold as hell + i'm thinking of satisfying my whim to sleep on a pool table. The German girl thinks i'm weird for sleeping on the table (she's on the floor below me). We're alone in here + she's walking around in panty hose. Germans are funny.
I awoke this morning on top of a pool table, i can safely say that's a 1st tho i have always wanted to. Well worth it. The rain's gone, but it left a frigid vacuum in it's wake. Had mueslix + soy "milk" sitting in the sun in front of the waterfall, w/ K. She took off hitch-hiking + i on my bike. Rode 26k w/ a slight diversion to Keri Keri (so nice they named it twice), the fruit bowl of NZ. No joke, kiwi + orange orchards everywhere. Too bad it's not the season. Went to the p.o. + sat in front writing postcards + sent photos home. Got brake pads at the bike store, maybe the last i'll see for a while. Had a crabstick sandwich, squid rings + corn on the cob in a video hangout w/ greasy + pimply small town hoods then departed for Whangaroa. It was miserable, wind against me the whole way. I don't mind hills, but wind really sucks. Feels like you're just pedaling in place, fighting against the air w/ each stroke. I found myself swearing out loud w/ each pedal, fuck, shit, moth-er, fuck-er. Got to Te Kao + was really hating life cuz i thought Whangaroa was 30 km away + my knee was hurting, then discovered it was only 6 km away. Got to the campground + the German girl K wasn't there like she said she would be. Matter of fact, when i signed the book i was the only one who had signed in for 4 days. Hmm. I layed down, too lazy + tired to pitch my tent + fell asleep for an hour. Woke up + for the first time on this trip i felt bored, like what the hell am i doing here? I'd go into "town" but town is just a few docks + a fishing club. I didn't see a soul passing thru, just another stupid beautiful harbor. I was sick of scenery + just wanting human companionship. I went into a bar—another thing i wanted was a piece of pie + coffee. All they had was minced meat pie [guess he didn't know minced meat was vegetarian!] There was a bunch of beer guzzling fisherman + i didn't feel like beer + thought a cup of coffee might come off as pretentious. I was so bored + lonely i went into the only store, a touristic shop. I examined every little item—little ashtrays that said "Whangaroa" on them + such. And then amidst it all i found a plastic spoon. I was siked. Then i heard someone call my name. It was K, giving me funny looks. I realized i was standing in the middle of this stupid shop staring at a plastic spoon in my hand. I was happy to see her. She decided to stay at the youth hostel + was on the way to the campground to visit me. She really wanted some fruit, asked everywhere until we got some at some old lady's house. She also really wanted to play chess [but told me i had to do this short hike first. I eagerly obeyed.][We haven't shown any actual pages from Tel's journal so here is the next page in his one riding].
Woke up today inside a garbage bag. Good investment if i don't say so myself. Misty morning, like taking a freezing steam bath. I watched Grimm's fairytale cartoons in the kitchen w/ some long-haired Maoris who never looked over or acknowledge me. They were the only other people in the campground. They seemed to be on the run, a guy + 2 women. The sun finally broke through + partially dried my stuff. Took off w/ renewed enthusiasm, major adrenaline rush flying down green hills, or the feeling when you get to the top, converting kinetic into potential. I would howl + scream out loud at all the animals. I spontaneously hooted + gobbled at some turkeys when i noticed some kids staring at me. Probably the most entertaining thing they'd see all day. Flew by "Doubtless Bay" without a doubt then started to feel worn. The wind picked up, slamming against me in gusts. Awauni was only 20 k but felt like an eternity. My back was killing, my legs aching + i didn't seem to be getting anywhere, pedaling in place. Finally made it + had a veggie burger in the only take-away shop in Awauni. Boring place. Split w/ the intention of grinding out the last 39 k to Houhou but the wind was against me + my energy fizzling. I broke thru to the other side, the west coast + now i'm at 90 mile beach. Definitely the longest beach i've seen. It goes on for 106 k (why it's called 90 mile beach who knows) + at low tide it goes way way out. Now it's the Tasmanian Sea, no longer the Pacific. I pitched my tent at this ultra-modern "Motorpark" then went to the beach + just lay there taking it in. An amazing immense meeting of land + H2O. The waves kept rolling from as far as the eye could see. Reminded me of Seaside in Oregon. I practiced harmonica + read Lives of a Cell. Came back + took an incredible shower. Felt like a warm firehose. This place is strangely modern + white. No stores. I got a can of beans + a can of corn + just ate right out of the can. I must have been quite a sight. These 4 Germans in the kitchen had all this high-tech cooking equipment + here i come in wearing dirty polypropylene long underwear top + bottom, all blue (washing everything else) w/ my walkman on dancing + singing + opening cans w/ my pocket knife + sticking the cans right on the burner, my plastic spoon sticking out of my mouth like a lollipop. This thermal underwear is giving me all this energy after a hot shower. These girls finally get up the nerve to ask where i'm from + when i said California, they laughed + said something in German that i'm sure meant "told you so," as if they had a bet going.
The misery of last night seems so far away. It poured all night. Put all my stuff in a garbage bag + slept in another, on top of more. I stayed dry but the incessant pounding of rain 12 inches over my head kept me awake. But sunrise it was still coming down. I laid in bed all morning—breakfast in bed—trail mix + mueslix bars. No point in getting up. Finally did + rushed undercover w/ all my stuff. Not hard to dry my stuff out as it was so windy. I got my stuff together (to the dismay of some uptight "Griswald" looking family) only to discover i had a flat. Patched it then got on my way. Damn wind, always against me, blowing me all over the road. Stopped for kiwis + ice cream in Houhora. I asked the show owner if this was Houhora + ends up he knows John Ford (where my next job is) + he gave me directions to his place. Houhora (the town) didn't exist anymore + the road was still a ½ hour up the road. And that was just the turnoff. For some reason i was in a pissed mood all day. Had to stop every 20, then 10, minutes to pump up my tires (slow leak). By the time i got to the turnoff it was gravel, so bad it was ruining my tires. So i had to walk for 5 miles w/ my bike. And of course the wind was now behind me! And now i'm here + J.F. isn't. I walked into this deserted swampy fields w/ plants in plastic bags. Nobody in sight. Just abandoned trailers. Finally on my way out i ran into K, whose from D.C. has a master's in zoology + a brillo-pad hairdo. There was a little confusion as to what was to become of me as J wasn't there. And i was in no mood to be sociable. I must have made a terrible 1st impression on the 6 other "WWOOFies" (willing workers on organic farms). I thought i'd replace my tube but the guy at the shop gave me the wrong size. I repatched it only to discover my pump was broken, so now i'm stuck here w/ a flat tire. I felt uncomfortable just hanging around but soon made myself at home. "Home" is this cavelike hobbit-house, made from sand from the beach 100 meters away. W/ a stone fireplace + bamboo on the walls, feels like a cozy cluttered Greek cave. No electricity or plumbing. I was starving as i hadn't eaten all day + was fed rice, peas, potatoes, soup + homemade bread. Finally felt revived to be social (did all the dishes so didn't feel too much like a leech). Then took a sauna in this homemade contraption, even more of a hobbit house/sweat lodge. You enter through a little hatch to see this raging fire in this stove which you pour water on to get steam. Naked bodies spoke up from the dark corners. Weird to meet people naked. Sweated everything out of my pores, very hot + effective. Then took a shower + watched a strange movie. Everyone has gone to bed cuz it's late.
I didn't quite capture the scene yesterday. Truly organic. Us woofies are like small furry creatures living in a series of cubby holes. My "bed" is in a corner up in a loft of unsymmetrical + disorganized wood. I lifted up my blanket + there was all this fluff from a rat's nest, bits of chewed up mattress. Trash novels from previous occupants piled next to the bed along w/ whiskey bottles + beer cans + torn porno mags. Everything filthy. The kitchen/communal room is a big dome chock full of oddities, boxes of bread, jars of peanut butter, postcards tacked up all over the walls. Everything powered by car batteries which lay strewn about. An oven caked w/ food + an array of canned soups + pots big enough to feed an army. Other smaller white domes house showers, outhouses + the sauna. Everything is rigged homemade + there are always special elaborate ways to get things to work. I woke up at 5 this morning to the obscene sound of the dog "Breeze" licking himself. I realized i was sleeping on top of the cat but it didn't seem to mind. Mice were running around everywhere. R sleeps in the next "room" (separated by a sheet of bubblewrap). Scooped a bowl of cereal out of a big cardboard box, washed down w/ mugs of mud. At 8 went into the field + started pulling weeds. The courgettes (zucchini) are grown in plastic bags in rows + weeds grow everywhere around them. Backbreaking work pulling + tugging. R, K + this Danish girl would work for 10 minutes then lay down in the field to "make a plan." K was trying to teach them camp songs but the Danish girl wanted to sing Lou Reed, so they ended up coming out as weird mixes in broken english: "Greasy grimey gopher guts, marinated monkey meat. And the colored girls sing.... do your balls hang low, do they wobble to + fro? C'mon sugar, take a walk on the wild side." Made the 4 hours go by faster.
After lunch K + the Danish girl took me to see H—the most eccentric person i've ever met, living in the strangest house. From the outside it looks like an abandoned junkyard. Tires + rusty "lakes" + plants w/ weird hoses sticking up in the air on totem poles. Piles of wood stacked haphazard all over. Up the "stairs" + across the "balcony" (plywood balanced on wood slats). This disheveled man sits there in dirty underwear amongst a big T.V. + empty food containers. Exotic plants everywhere + the ceiling is made of bits of plastic + glass. Cords go everywhere + everything is in boxes. There appears to be no order to anything, but perhaps there is a genius at work behind it. The bed is so dirty looks like it is literally soiled. Extreme entropy has set in. The "kitchen" is a series of cardboard boxes + a hot plate co-mingling w/ his bed + "toilet," i.e. a bucket full of shit. He shits on newspaper + then stacks them in the bucket. The "house" is on stilts so he does have a great view, of Henderson Bay. Hard to put in words how weird it is. H is a nude (art) photographer who is obsessed w/ plants. He has $30,000 of exotic plants strewn about his living quarters + the junkyard outside his house. He goes on nonstop w/ strange unrelated stories that don't match up. His father is a supposed world expert in mollusks + has discovered 100s of new ones [googling now, this must be him]. If you look him up in mollusk guides you'll see his last name everywhere. There is a huge pit the size of a football field which will 1 day be a greenhouse someday. ½-finished projects everywhere that will be something "some day". The house is not nailed together, just piles of beams + precarious boards we were warned to not lean against. Everything in complete chaos, but you get the impression there is a method to his madness. He's insane + filthy, a complete invalid + the most unhealthy person i've ever met, neglecting all bodily functions, his body just clinging to what's necessary to survive. He is bedridden (he's 60) + his leg is broken from falling down his "stairs". The Danish girl + K make money on the side taking care of stuff for him + now they want me to take over. He has no teeth + throws up when he eats soup.
When we got back, we all rushed off to disinfect ourselves. Then we took our sleeping bags + went down to the beach where presently i'm laying, writing this. Incredible turquoise water, white sands + purple flowers + green hills. The reason there is blood on the page (smears of blood above this) is cuz "Kipper" the dog who is obsessed w/ sticks bit my hand when i teased him with one. I am ready to go "home" + bake which i've been informed means you're interested in someone in Denmark, i.e. to "bake" someone means you have a crush on them.
I opened my eyes this morning, staring at a mouse inches from my face. Then the cat pounced on it + proceeded to proudly eat it in front of me, purring. Lovely. Another grueling daze work (J.F.'s back). Went over to H's to water his plans, fix his sprinkler system + carry bags of cement up his stairs then drove him around. He pays me $7/hr... i should be able to get in 4-5 hours a day working for him, on top of working for J (for room + board) so i'm stoked. As i expected, every bit of that chaotic mess at H's is planned. Zillions of plants in bags + pots scattered throughout his house out by his "lake" in tires. Every plant he passes he tells some interesting fact about it. Or he'll tell me to go out + get a particular rhodendron or vanilla plant, laying next to a bag of shells (building material) + sure enough, it's there, exactly as he described. I had to map out the rat's nest of hoses in his sprinkler system, hoses going into 4-way connectors looping back into eachother + crossing in complicated loops w/ hoses pulling from the "lake" (i.e. septic pond). It's all a reflection of his mind, his insanity. He said he had a calling to "grow god's plants". I drove him around in this bashed up 4-WD, first time driving on the left side of the road. Very strange, i'm used to it riding my bike, but the stickshift + wipers + everything are all mixed up. J.F.'s back, a husky hick (as he calls himself) whose missing a front tooth, that wears rugby shorts + wool sweaters + has huge feet that are always bare + caked in dirt.
Burnout. My mind has blown a fuse. Almost ready to leave. Yesterday, after doing peon labor—carrying water from these ponds in buckets into which i then mixed jello + fertilizer (blood + bones) pouring them on rows + rows of courgettes—I drove Harley into Kaitaia. Strange enough not driving for 3 months, but to drive a beat-up 4WD w/ 260,000 miles with doors tied on by ropes + ½ flat ties + nothing works, driving on left (shifting w/ left)—everything reversed, in a foreign place. Not to mention crazy H yelling in my hear strange stories about his university life—mixing nude photographs into slide carousels during microbiology lectures w/ absent minded professors or pranks involving chopping down trees on shithouses—H bursts out laughing before finishing the stories, gums strained + no teeth. Nice to be in civilization, Kaitaia, little town of a few thousand. Filled up the truck + my bike tires. Then took H to the hospital. I'm getting unwillingly swept into his bizarre dramas, feel like a pawn in chess game. There's H, the district nurse B, the 2-faced neighbor + the violent neighbor, J.F. the crazy hick, M + E, the respectable couple, some woman named B, people from the department of social welfare, various bankers + of course the American WWOOFer. We went to the hospital by the district nurses advice. We get there + the receptionist sez that the district nurse told him he was NOT supposed to come. I had to go round up his files + do a lot of explaining as no one takes H seriously. Finally he sees a Pakistani doctor who says he's okay + doesn't have this poisoning smokers get cuz he doesn't smoke (H is also a hypochondriac). Meanwhile i'm downtown filling my face w/ chocolate + buying metal spoons + a pot. Then we run into this man E who looks like a used car salesman, who hands H $200 in cash. And then to the chemist to get his constipation medicine. Then we went to M's house—sweet woman that gave me tea + cookies. This launched him into a 2 hour soap opera that i still don't know what it was about but didn't mind as i was on the clock. Then E walks in, ends up E used to be J.F.'s ex-partner + they had a falling out. M is an Irish ex-WOOFER who married E. Ends up B (the 1 who buries H's newspaper-wrapped shit in the forest) has reported him to the dept of social welfare who want to evict H from his house. Last time they tried H got his gun out + started shooting the cops. He says he'll fight w/ his life to stay w/ his plants. And this evil B woman has access to H's account + takes all his money to try to bankrupt him. Thus H must go to the bank on certain days to get his money out in cash before she does. While this conversation goes on H has M call various people who H owes money too + make up stories why he hasn't been able to pay them back. H is severely paranoid + no one wants to deal w/ him. Then, after conversations ranging from enemas to sodomy to god's will of things) M + E inform me that whatever i do i mustn't tell J.F. that i set foot in this house. You got to feel sorry for H, but he's such a pain in the ass.
Today i went + worked for him again—all his sprinklers broken + he expects me to fix everything which is beyond me. Then driving to his neighbors house to steal drinking water for him (12 5-gallon jugs) + carry them all up his stairs only to find him dumping them on the plants. Frustrating. I got back + J.F. is on the couch munching jellybeans with a funny boyish grin on his face. I had left a Gerald Durrell book on the table + he was already almost finished w/ it just that afternoon, laughing in hysterics. He is constantly babbling, "fucking excellent crop, yah, right, no worries." babbles on about H, his favorite neighbor + economics, speaking in increments of $100,000, as if. Had the privilege of watching him make "food". He pulls the oven tray out, puts 3 pieces of bread on it, slops canned tomatoes over them + then grates some cheese, ½ of which goes into the oven + all over the floor. Then he opens a can of sardines + pours them on top, grates more cheese directly on, then grates an entire head of garlic not bothering to peel it—busy blabbing the whole time. When he pushes it into the oven it is stacked so high that ½ the ingredients topple over + he doesn't even notice he is so busy yacking. Then he intensely examines the spices + pours a little of everything on it. Presto! A John Ford sandwich!
Taking a shower this morning i realized i needed to leave. I'd been cooking all day, baking cookies 2 pots of chili (1 con carne, the other con corny) + a tub of homemade granola. Not to mention cleaning the kitchen, which was quite a chore. And dissecting J's stereo. The whole time H was sitting right in my way w/ his cast + crutches sprawled out, going on w/ his paranoid rants + nervous mumblings. South! Where south is up. 145 kms, a new record for a day. I was a motivated, picking up momentum like a screeching snowball. I was up at 7 from the swarm of mosquitos. Didn't really get to say goodbye to anyone, they were all out at the pub til 1 a.m. Left by 8:30 + by 10:30 i had reached Kaitaia (55k... 7 of it on gravel). I was grinding thru the hills, tires hissing, gears grinding. Restocked tread + tubes + fuel for myself + a map + left Kaitaia by 11:00. Hit a steep ascent, up + up—383 meters. Meanwhile had passed these hitchhikers 6 times + they passed me 5. Guess they could only get little rides at a time. In the end cycling wins. Took a ferry from Kohu-Kohu to Kawena (where the hitchikers stayed) then made the last 10k to Opononi on a steep gravel road. At one point my bag got caught in the rear wheel again + completely ripped open so i had to stop + collect all my shit scattered all over the road + sew it all back together. I think a sewing kit, as well as garbage bags, should be included as necessary items (along w/ the towel + babelfish) in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Then I got a flat but changed the tube in about 3 minutes... why bother to patch it, can change it later at my leisure. Then my front tire completely locked up for no reason—maybe the bearings are full of dirt, who knows. Luckily it fixed itself w/ a bit of WD40. Opononi is really beautiful. The opening of this harbor into the sea + the other side there are these huge dunes. Stopped at a hostel called "Harmony House". It was full of drugged up hippies + $12 for a stinking bed, no way. So i found this campground right on the beach, there are 2 other biking couples, 1 Dutch the other Brits. They got mountain bikes + snazzy gear. The English couple was telling me how they got attacked by a mad cow up near Cape Regina. It chased them + they hopped off + jumped over a fence, but then the cow stomped on their bikes + kicked their bags. When they tried to climb back over the fence it would go crazy again charging them, so they had to wait it out in a stalemate. When they got their bike back the front wheels were all mangled up + bent. Imagine that, mad cows! [Drew picture of mad cow stomping on a bike]. Here i was worried about dogs, guess i need to worry about cows now. Tomorrow brings Waipoua forest, home to the giant Kauris.
Rained all night + still was when i woke up. Oh well, at least the wind is blowing south... so i thought. Packed everything in garbage bags + took off. Went up this mtn outside Opononi which i'm sure provided a great view but i could see nothing but thick gray clouds + fog. Then discovered my brakes didn't work cuz it was so wet. I adjusted them tight as possible to no avail, so i just used the foot-dragging method which works as long as you aren't going too fast. Took the thrill out of the downhills tho, little reward for humping it up. And to top it off, the wind had changed directions, gusts now bashing against me, bringing me to a halt even on the downhills. Then the road turned to gravel + wound slowly up a long ascent of 387 meters. Passed a Canadian girl on the way going even slower then me. Then i hit the Waipoua Kauri forest. It had been pouring rain the whole time so not as nice as it should have been, but saw the Kauris' the biggest one 5 meters in diameter. For someone who grew up around Redwoods tho, not nearly as impressive. I was soaked the whole day + had given up hopes of every being dry. Underneath my raincoat i was soaked w/ sweat. My shoes full of muddy water, as well as my bags. Gravel + dirt were caked in my gears + crank making it hard to pedal. Sheer hell. And you couldn't do anything in the park because they put '"1080" poison everywhere to kill the opossums. Took the turnoff to Trousden Kauri park—the road muddy + thick w/ large stone gravel. I fell down twice. Got to a campsite w/ hardly any facilities, just this Dutch couple who stared at me as if i was an alien. So i pushed on + made it here, to a hostel w/ a room all to myself, washers, dryers, hot showers, very modern campground. And who should show up but the couple that got attacked by the mad cows. All i can say is that all the misery makes it nice to sit in a dry room w/ a bag of cookies + bowl of coffee.
Day of "leisure". Decided to spend the day here—still raining. After a long warm sleep i woke up + went on this bushwalk on a river. I rounded a corner + suddenly burst into tears at the sight of the river, don't know why, it wasn't a particularly scenic river, but it just struck me as beautiful, the idea that such a thing as a river can exist on this planet. Something we take for granted, rivers are truly amazing, the way it's path is chosen by gravity, as it swirls + waves along, forever changing. I can hear it now, the same river, in the dark of night. I'm sure my emotional state had something to do w/ it. There i was, the river flowing, rain coming down + me overflowing w/ tears, streaming out of my eyes mixing w/ the rain. The scenic beauty mixed w/ amazement at the human capacity for emotion. Is it a coincidence that tears come from our source of vision? There was more to it i guess, the physical fatigue, the deprivation of physical human contact, only shallow interactions w/ passing travellers. I wanted to touch someone, something familiar. More then missing S i missed having a girlfriend. I was repulsed by the familiarity of my body, my hands + wrinkled palms. Some things i must come to grips with, namely myself. Sustained loneliness inevitably leads to self-discovery. When i got Dengue in Tahiti the doctor warned me about such after-effects, said that i might get depressed, just from being malnourished, depleted, not eating for a week. Maybe that's what this is about. And then another 3-4 days on the Adelaar so seasick i couldn't eat. And now pushing my body like this, grueling away on a bike. Pushing towards what? The reoccuring theme of this trip has been my unwillingness to just let go + relax, not grab on to things to keep, to just let experience flow thru your senses + out the other side. I feel a need to share these experiences, even if i'm not taking a picture or whatever, i'm phrasing it in my mind how i will describe it to people in the future. Or i enjoy it to look forward to the nostalgia, but not truly in the moment. I haven't learned to capture the moment, always pressing on. Always a sense of urgency, to hurry + do N.Z. so i can get on to Asia. I'm in limbo, a nomad, a seed blowing in the wind afraid to land for fear it will take root.
Later in the morning I rode back up the grueling hill (5k) to Trounson park. Mr. Endless Heel [what he called his bike] has definitely got problems. It squeaks + grinds all over, the front wheel crunches like the bearings are all fucked, locking up at times + the gears don't shift properly, all outta whack no matter how i adjust them. The park was beautiful. Nice to walk, riding a bike you miss out on a lot. Walking has a speed meant for proper observation. Maybe i'll walk around the world one day. The park was dense + lush. I thought the 15-meter fern trees were more spectacular then the Kauris, tho they are impressive as well. Massive solid trunk + at the top is a cradle of branches, harboring all sorts of orchids + parasitic airplants, each w/ it's own mini eco-system. [drew picture of Kauri]. It was very dark in the forest + thunder began to roll in in long sighs. I was poured on as i returned, flying downhill. Back at camp i finished Black Like Me [by John Howard Griffin], suddenly my mind teleported to the turpentine-smelling swamps of Alabama. The camp owner gratiously sold me a potato, a carrot + an onion + a bag of rice from his kitchen + i picked some swiss chard + mint leaves from outside my door. I've completely exhausted my food supply except for a mueslix bar + some trail mix which i'm trying to save for breakfast. It is silent + peaceful. I can hear the buzzing of my own ears as i sit + read the The Baha'i Faith: An Introduction.
I can't believe i'm here, most unexpected. Most nourishing day. When i looked out the window this morning it was raining hard, the ground flooded. No worries, i'll get wet. I was getting cabin fever + needed refueling. Took off unsure of my destination, my options included Dargaville, Paparoa, Pahi, Hellensville or Wellsford—actually i didn't consider Wellsford til i got to Dargaville. The sun finally peaked thru the clouds tho it still rained, more importantly the wind was more or less behind me. I made it to Dargaville in 1½ hours. Looked into taking a ferry to Helensville, but i had to go to some travel agent + it seemed lame. Went to the bank, got stuff at the bike store, wolfed down some veggie pies + a scone + bought some food. I took off to Paparoa. The road was flat + i was flying along in 10th gear w/ the wind behind me. I knew i would make Wellsford 100 km away. It was beautiful marshland on the Kaiparu bay. I got to a little store w/ 50 k left to Wellsford + sat on the curb eating 2 mounds bars + drinking a raspberry lemonade when a bus pulled up that said Auckland. Out of curiosity i asked the driver if they'd take the bike on the bus. Next thing i knew i'm sitting in the front seat + everything is flying by at amazing speeds! It was unbelievable the speed when you've been on a bike. I'd be in Auckland tonight rather than tomorrow + not have to deal w/ traffic on the outskirts. It's amazing how we take things like busses for granted, you really appreciate them after biking. Fate was w/ me today. I don't know what possessed me into thinking i'd ride into Auckland, but some force made the decision for me. First off, as i'd been told, the scenery is boring the rest of the way to Auckland. Then looking out the window at tons of cars + a non-existent shoulder, couldn't imagine biking it. At about 50k outside the city the traffic became dense, a continuous suburb. Now a 6-lane freeway w/ on ramps + exits over bridges + no shoulders. And the kiwis are insane drivers. Nice view from my front row seat, harbor full of yachts, clean water. The driver let me off somewhere downtown + i asked directions to the Georgia Hostel. It was 2k straight up a hill in heavy city traffic. I got there + the proprietors looked at me + said "this man deserves a beer." I looked like a hobo, holding garbage bags + my patched together greasy saddlebags, wet + covered w/ mud + unshaven + generally unkempt. And sure enough there was a note from me from M + C [2 guys that he crewed with on the Adelaar] but it didn't say much except that they had been there + had since moved on. I showered + was itching to see city life. Walked down to Queens st.—the main drag. It's alright as far as cities go (900,000), nothing to get too excited about. Stopped in at the Middle East Cafe for some chow. Tiny place, only a few tables + a bar full of camel paraphernalia—camel posters, statues, stuffed 1s, antique, etc. Blues music blared + it was packed, hardly room to stand. Got 2 falafels + went back to Queens st + ate them on the stairs of a theatre + people-watched—skate rats, punks, midgets, prostitutes, rastas, Maoris, surfers, kissing lesbians, yuppies + hobo travellers like me. Then i went + saw "I Love You to Death," strange cool flick. I was experiencing culture shock after being up in the boonies + out to sea. Fully digging the dose of culture. When i got out it was raining + dreary. Now I'm in this crowded hostel.
Today I went apeshit on books + tapes + such. A major portion of my budget I guess, even at home. Went to the C.P.O. to get mail but nothing much, nothing from S [his X]. I sat in a cafe at the harbor feeling sorry for myself + wondering what to do w/ these books, tapes + thick travel guides i had now acquired + had to haul w/ me on my bike. I walked around + bought another journal (this 1 is about to run out) + more books—the I Ching + more tapes. Read for a while in a park up on a hill overlooking the city, full of weird hippy types engaged in intense eye-to-eye conversation + Tarot cards. Had a tamara + mushroom pie at Domino's cafe, yet another trendy cafe. I sat there a while since it was raining. Went up along Huahigone (?) st. which i guess is the Polynesian part of town... Samoans, Fijians, Maoris. Auckland is fairly cosmopolitan, lots of Indians, Middle Eastern, Chinese, even a Mexican restaurant + a Thai market. Definitely the nicest smelling city i've been, though i can't pinpoint the smell—food + flowers. All very clean. Came back + fixed my bike, took all the bearings out which were no longer spherical + repacked new ones w/ lithium grease. Lots of bikers at this hostel, mostly day-trippers. "I don't want to ruin my bike" they say, which they shipped all the way from wherever. This one Austrian guy could not get over the fact that I had ridden all over on this shitty 10-speed lemon... "sheet mon, de low geer only haz 28 teeth + look how bend dose wheelz are yaw."
I have 3 pages left in this journal + feel this would be a good transition point (+ good time to send junk home, including this journal). I would write something insightful but i don't feel inspired. I did this morning, but it was while i was reading. Coincidentally it is Oct. 17 (anniversary of earthquake) + i left for this trip on July 17. 3 months, 1/4 of a year. 3 —a magic number, yes it is [De La Soul reference]. Fibonacci number. 3 months + i'm still nowhere near Asia. How does what i learned in the past 3 months compare w/ a quarter [3 mos.] at UCSC? No comparison. Sheet. I can't concentrate, i hate hostels. I'm really acquiring an aversion to the typical backpacker types, all sitting in the communal room watching TV + asking the same questions over + over to everyone they meet, where are you from, where are you going, etc. over + over.
Another day + still in Auckland, in this frathouse of a hostel. They are all drunk + someone just went on a "beer run". Haven't heard that term in a while. This guy in my room has been in N.Z. for 8 days + not only has he not even been outside of Auckland but he hasn't even been downtown. The proprietors are cool tho, they gave me a free dinner last night + have been helpful finding this + that. They even bought 1 of my books off me for $10 cuz it says "Georgia" on it + it's the Georgia hostel. After breakfast took my bike in to straighten out the wheels, some guy w/ greasy hair + cigarette dangling out of his lip showed me how to do it myself (by adjusting the spokes). Walked around in the new market area then to "Auckland Domain" — a large park where the museum is. It's big + i spent a few hours there. The sections on the south pacific + Maori culture particular excellent. Dug the human hair weavings, bone fishhooks + coconut husk armor. They had a 85-foot Maori war canoe + rebuilt the treaty house. All intricately carved, in black, red + white. The Maori chose cool colors + geometric designs. They must of had a lot of time on their hands to carve everything so intricate [describes more of the stuff he saw + a Maori war dance in great detail]. I went down to Parnell expecting it to be like the Melrose or Haight-Ashbury of Auckland (so i was told) but definitely not close. Expensive + rickety cafes. I bought a bar of soap. Went back downtown + got my bus ticket to Waitomo, a WWOOF book + a cycling guide from the visitor center. Went to some hare krishna restaurant (Gopal) but it looked disgusting. So i went to a Mexican restaurant called "Ponchos". Had some enchiladas that weren't ½ bad, got to talking to the owner + ends up he's Egyptian, had never been to Mexico, but bought the restaurant + recipes from a Mexican. When they heard i had lived in Mexico they were intrigued + asked if it was authentic. I said by American standards maybe. Then i went to a trendy record store that had tons of stuff. Went back to the hostel + read amongst perpetually sleeping bodies.
Bike mileage to date [tallies it up in a column of numbers]. Sheet, i've only gone 819 km so far, including Rarotonga + Tahiti [where he rented bikes]. Moneywise, counting everything, local plane flights, my bike, etc. I've spent $14/day since i've been gone. And most of that was probably towards things like photos, mail, batteries + books. Things should get cheaper after Australia, I hope. I've blown thru almost ½ my money + i'm not even to Asia.[to the side is a table w/ tallied #s—Tahiti (23 days)—$400 (70 for doctor), Rarotonga (28 days)—$500, Fiji (10 days) $80, Adelaar/New Zealand til Oct. 18 (27 days)—$380 (175 for bike) for a total of $1260].
Goodbye little paisley blue book! I remember the first day i got you, in a package from J + N + how you were so clean + innocent + i enthusiastically carried you around under my arm along Papeete harbor. I hope i get around to reading you some day. My lone companion on many a rainy day, in the kitchen of whatever campground. Waiting for my rice to cook. You are to me what a museum is to mankind. Where will i be when i read you next? You will have been shipped away in some cardboard box, through the hands of Kiwi postal people. Unloaded into a truck, buried under mountains of other mail. Probably mostly formal business correspondence. Then into a shipping container loaded onto a ship. What kind of ship? Did u see the phosphorescence splashing against the bow? After 6-8 weeks into the port of S.F. Some careless postal employee will stamp you + chuck you into a canvas bag, then flung into a jeep, slung out of someone's hands into the green mailbox on 2063 Santa Cruz Ave [his grandmothers house where he sent his mail to himself]. At the base of the dirt bank where i used to play w/ hot wheels as a kid, next to the bushes from which we used to throw cherries at passing cars. Did i ever imagine this would arrive? Maybe some other kid will be playing beneath the mailbox. Granini will come get it on a mild November day. She'll carry it into the house + put it in a pile in the attic w/ other stuff for me. Maybe she or my mom will be snoopy + open the package + read this journal... Hi Granini! Hi mom! I doubt anyone would have the patience to make it this far to the end. Maybe Kevin will find it + read it... hey Kevin! I hope there is nothing i needed to censor. Who are you anyway, Mr. Journal, if someone else reads you? Nothing. You are just scribbles of ink on processed wood pulp but someday you might excite emotion + induce nostalgia in me, a future version of me.
Yah, last page! Who am i writing this to anyways? I went back + read you with that in mind + realized i am writing to myself as if someday i will be a different person. You are like a bottle of wine, needing to age. Sit around in the attic + get dusty until next summer some long hair guy w/ a beard + possibly wearing clogs will blow the dust off + open you up... Hi Derek—whoever you are now. Hope you didn't lost touch with who you were. Then again, maybe i'll freeze in Nepal or the ship carrying you will sink + i'll never see you again. Maybe a U.F.O. will seize you + confiscate you + you'll become a record of the world as we knew it.
[continues NZ in another journal]
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