They say any publicity is good publicity, right? I'm not sure if that counts outside of celebrities, or if the actual reference point is not mentioned in the report, but I suppose it's a positive thought! On the way home from a rockwall gig yesterday, we heard a radio DJ say something to the affect of, "You know what we need to teach Kiwi kids in school? We need to teach them to tie stuff down to trailers. That way they know when objects are safe and secure and we won't have things like couches or rockwalls flying off all over the roads." Now, ROCKUP wasn't mentioned, but it's pretty clear what he was referring to! It would be nice if people got the facts straight. That rockwall wasn't about to "fly off" the trailer, in fact it was because it was so well connected that it simply turned on it's side! Anyway, there's not much point to going off on here about it, I just think it's interesting to be on the subject end to see how skewed information can get.
I've had some busy days lately, including working the rockwall at Armageddon (aka: geekfest in Auckland) which is a video game/comic book/wrestling convention/expo. It was certainly an interesting crowd, and not one for which rock climbing was very popular. We were located right next to the wrestling ring, so it was quite hard to hear yourself think for parts of the day--let alone talk to kids who wanted to climb! I did think it was humerus how incredibly fake and dramatic the "wrestling" next door to us was. Regardless of the crowd and the long hours, I had a good time. I started off as the "harness assistant" getting everybody set to climb, then changed out to take the money, and later was trained to be "climb master" and was in charge of all the climbers for a while.
I think probably the best part of the day was meeting Kate, a part time employee with ROCKUP. We got along well from the start and she even invited me on holiday with her before I start my journey South! It'll be great if that works out because she has a bach (Kiwi vacation home, pronounced 'batch') up North, which is where I intended to head after WWOOFing.
Speaking of WWOOFing, it's been a pretty good mix of helping out around the house, with the family business, and out in the fields (though the whole organic farming aspect is not exactly emphasized). There are two other American WWOOFers here with me too. Nate and I arrived on the same day and we get along pretty well. He did a study abroad semester down on the South island, and decided to travel North for a couple weeks before his final exams. Nate, Steven, and I had a day off on Friday so our host dropped us off at the beach for the afternoon. We had a good time walking down the beach for a while as it was a little chilly and windy to just sit around. There was a dog who adopted us after we threw a stick for him and he followed us several kilometers down the beach. We still don't know where he was from, but he went on his way when we left the beach and headed into town.
Lynne, our host, stopped at a small market building on the way to the beach and treated us to some ice cream/gelato (sorbet in my case). It was a cute little building with a few shops and a cafe. My favorite was the chocolatier that actually had a "dairy free" label on their rocky road! Rocky road is something I've had a couple times in NZ but never had in the states, and I'm developing a liking for it since I've come across a few non-dairy ones! Yum :)
Today, Nate and I rode along to the local market (called a gala here) where ROCKUP had a couple blow up bounce houses. We helped set them up and then wandered a bit, finding some tasty treats along the way. We had thought we might be there all day, or maybe we would walk into town or to the beach, so we picked up a baguette and Nate found some nice cheese. I was going to get an avocado but they didn't have any ripe enough, so instead we ended up with a local bottle of wine! We actually came back to the house instead and enjoyed a tasty breaded lunch, then hung out by the pool. Since it's still springtime, and today is really the first warm day we've had, the water is quite cold, so it didn't seem worth it to try to swim "laps" in a 10ish meter pool. Instead, I did some yoga while Nate went for a run and now the wine is chilling and we're contemplating a movie.
Sounds like an easy life, I know, but I do work hard other days! It ends up that if you are helping on the farm, you only have to work a half day. At ROCKUP jobs, it is often longer than that, so after the first 4 hours we are paid for our time. If you work a full day, you are then entitled to a day off, so it works out pretty well. The farm we're on has free range chickens (chooks) that like to come right up to my window when they're hungry. There are also two dogs (one is a pretty adorable puppy), a cat I've seen once, and some cows.
There are some strict rules in this house, mostly with valid reasons since there are nine people living on the property at the moment, but 2 minute showers, 15 minutes of internet a day, specific sinks for washing hands and certain toilets to use can start to feel a bit restrictive. I've been feeling somewhat disconnected, having to compose emails and blog posts in a WordPad document and then pasting them in during my 15 minutes online each day. In some ways it is nice to be a little withdrawn from the digital world, which allows for more time to appreciate my surroundings and get into some books, but sometimes I do wish I were able to post pictures and catch up with people more often! I suppose I shouldn't complain since I usually can get online (however briefly) each day, and it's not like I'm out of touch for long periods of time! It does make it a little more difficult to plan my next adventure or look up opportunities online, but word of mouth seems to be working alright for me at the moment.
I've been doing some cooking, baking, and dishes to help out and we've been eating most dinners as a big group. It's nice to be living in a family environment, but everybody here seems to have a very strong personality, which doesn't always make for quiet days! The house is nice and spread out, however, (one level with 5 bedrooms and a business office) and I am in the far corner from the kitchen on a futon in the game room. The other two WWOOFers are in the "WWOOFer hut" which is basically a shed with bunk beds and a rickety roof with a port-o-potty outside. I wouldn't mind being out there, but I am definitely grateful to have a double bed inside to myself! There has even been talk of putting up a curtain so I have my own corner of the room, but it has been almost a week and it hasn't happened yet. The other WWOOFers do share the bathroom that's in the game room too, so it's not like I have a whole room to myself!
Overall, it's been a good experience so far. I think two weeks is going to feel like a long time to be here, but hopefully I will keep busy and just be ready for my next adventure when it comes!