Friday, January 30, 2009

traveling again

every time i move i am reminded overwhelmingly how turtle-like i am, and it doesn't help that my backpack is green. i am in nelson right now 'sunniest spot in new zealand' according to my bus driver yesterday who was full of useful and interesting trivia. on tuesday josh and kirby, the other wwoofers at windsong orchard (the blueberry farm) gave me a ride out to linkwater, a little tiny town (not even a town but more like a collection of farms surrounding a gas station called challenge! and a pub with fish and chips takeaways) where bob and jennie had friends who needed some help with there lemons and so i was shuttled out to help them. not as cushy as my previous farm, though i was again in a caravan of my own, it was a half mile down the hill from the site where the family was building their unfinished house which they had already moved into. therefore there was no shower and an outdoor toilet at the top of the hill. it will be a beautiful house when it is completed with a compelling sweeping veiw of mountains and inlets surrounding it, but right now it's a job site (which i proceeded to clean, organize and fully sweep out). chris and ann were a sweet young couple with a strawberry farm that they hired a local girl to look after while they are preoccupied by their housebuilding efforts. they needed me to help with their lemon trees, a new orchard of two foot tall trees with adorable miniature lemons, which i had to weed and fertilize, all on a very steep uphill slope and next to a neighbors electric fence (which i did bump into. twice. it was not comfortable but more, well, shocking than anything). and they had the funniest little dog ever named molly, an unbelievable handful sized mongrel who looked like a cross between an ewok and a gremlin all covered in curly blond fur. but somehow totally loveable. and after two days of what equaled camping indoors, i caught a ride with the postman 'adam' to havelock, and he gave me a panoramic new zealand postcard and a kiwipost pen and told me where the best cafe was to wait for my bus. today i wandered around nelson, went to the market, which was full of craft vendors, and visited the studio of jens hansen, the jeweler who created the 'one ring' and there it was on display, but wait there's another at a different size? what? turns out that there is more than one, one ring, more like fifty plus but that's not too disapointing. just amusing. and i spent the remainder of my afternoon propped agianst a pine tree in the park, reading a book and eating icecream that melted with astounding speed, but i guess it's really hot today. something like 30 degrees. not sure what that equals....

Sunday, January 25, 2009

post script

this is what the sky looked like last night. it inspired me and i added blueberry juice to the crepes i was making, turning them purple and pink.


above you will see the caravan that is my home here-directly next to a sign that says 'blueberries and plums' and 'honk for service' (which people most definatly do). now that i have been here for a week and am looking at the prospect of moving to my next place, the following is some of what i've discovered here at windsong orchards.
worst sounds while picking blueberries:
a. the 'plunk' of a perfectly ripe berry you accidentally brushed dropping from it's perch to the ground and rolling out of sight.
b. the various 'plunk' and 'plink' noises of a whole handful of carefully picked blueberries (which you had to climb into the bush to acquire) missing your bucket entirely and plummeting to the ground.
best sounds while picking blueberries:
best sounds while picking blueberries:
a. the moment when the ka-plink's of berries hitting the bottom of your pail cease and due to the now muffled 'whump' you know the bucket is no longer empty.
b. the sonorous cacophony of three kilo's of blueberries being poured into the grader.
worst things about picking blueberries:
a. being showered with water (because the irrigation was left on the night before) as you look up at a particularly lovely bunch of berries.
b. walking bent over along the rows of younger plants and gaining an average of seven berries per.
c.the sun. it's relentlessly hot.
best things about picking blueberries:
a.taste testing
things i've learned from picking blueberries:
a.the reason you never see gigantic (i mean collosal) blueberries in stores or markets is that the people picking them eat them before they can make it to you. i know cause there were lots and i felt a distict need to uphold the tradition and therefore i ate them all.
b.there is no end to the way blueberries can be prepared and eaten. they can be put on salads and crackers and cereal, they can be baked in pies, tarts, muffins, pankakes, cupcakes, they can be made into sauce, jam, juice, soup, salad dressing. and they can be put on anything spread with peanut butter, but the best way to eat them is a large handful (even two) transfered directly into your mouth. nothing beats that...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

wine tasting by bicycle

we all went wine tasting again and i have come to the conclusion that if you pay a small fee for tasting ($5 new zealand) they will treat you much better, give you larger pours and be alot happier to answer questions. out of all the wineries we visited (by bicycle in the hot hot sun i might add) forrest vineyards charged for a tasting but you got to pick six wines and they threw in a seventh, most likely something new that they were trying to promote. but the pours were almost a quarter glass full, and very well done on a tray with numbered insets for the bottom of each glass and tasting notes to corospond to each. every other winery looked at us and seemed to assess that we were young and riding bikes and most likely weren't going to spend a great deal for money, and sort of paid minimal attention to us. though we did try some amazingly potent grape liquor similar to grappa which was like a kick in the head compounded by the heat. thank goodness the swimming hole was just down the road and wonderful. you could swim up the river a ways and then just drift back on the current. peaceful. plus we met ian, an aussie who is managing cloud bay vineyards and now we have another place to visit on monday. more winerys than could be got to in a week. i now see the benifit of a bus tour, it's easier to got to five or six places if you climb onto an air-condiditioned bus after getting sloshed, instead of trying to swing your leg over the seat of a bicycle while staggering slightly. but sooooo much fun. it's hardly work here really...
last night we made a crazy meal together, trying to use all the odd things in the 'crisper' and we ended up with shredded beetroot, zuccini and potato pancakes with mustard and hotsauce, quinoa and homemade coleslaw. accompanied by last years sauvignon blanc we picked up at a vineyard earlier and i carried home in my purse. on the bike. thank goodness it was only nine bucks cause there was a chance of me falling over, and i've never been that graceful a rider!
and then dinner was followed by blueberry pancakes which filled the little cottage with smoke but tasted divine with just a little bit of melty butter. we ate ourselves into a stupor.
and got up at quarter past seven to go to the market in neighboring blehnim where i sold plums and blueberries till we basically ran out at noon. i can now eyeball a kilo of plums and hand weigh a quarter kilo of blueberries with a fair amount of accuracy for which i am very proud.
i think we are going to make some sort of fritatta tonight with micro green salad (we're gonna attempt to make blueberry vinigrette) and lemon blueberry cheesecake bars. pretty much blueberries go in everything here, they are just so abundant and no one can find a good reason not to use masses of them. my cereal is really more berry than cereal in the morning...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

gooey melt-y mess!

--this was the sky last night, it was ridiculously lovely. i took a billion pictures (while being mocked by my picking compatriots) cause it was just too awesome.

last night we had a huge dinner with multiple courses and two kinds of pudding (dessert) and then we went to the local pub and had a drink we created (the summer shnappy = vodka, peach shnapps and current juice) which tasted a little too much like just juice but really wasn't and then we played some elaborate card game i had never heard which was sort of like calvinball cards, and the winner of each round was 'president' and was allowed to make decrees to the lower peoples and it was just so hard to
keep track of it all. oh and then we had a dance party to the unlikely mix of queen and fleetwood mac and we palyed dance-off which is like 'horse' but with dance moves and was utterly ridiculous but great. the other three girls (jesse and robin from the bay area, and emma from washington) took off this afternoon, along with richard, who has been wwoofing for years (YEARS) and keeps coming back here.
so it's kind of quiet, the new couple just showed up and it's not quite dinner time yet. too hot to really do much of anything actually. i did make a tart though. i figured why not bake, it's already scaldingly hot the oven won't make an ounce of difference right? we have all been trying to use blueberries as much as humanly possible. in everything really. blueberry soup, blueberry tart, pie, sauce, pancakes, in salad and on cereal. the first night i just had a giant bowl of blueberries and cream. and tonight i made a blueberry chocolate tart, with a peanut butter crust using cereal i crushed into flour using the bottem of an empty jar. it was so silly, and noisy but made a great crust. i am now just waiting for it to cool, cause it's all gooey and melt-y and would make an awful mess, but a good mess.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


i spent the whole morning in the blueberries just overcome with delight! what a great thing to be doing. there are at least thirty long rows of berries and the plants are just heavy with fruit, it's almost frustrating to pick cause some are always falling off just as you touch them. but it's the perfect fruit to pick as they are mostly tall plants so you can stand up and pick some and then sit down and pick the ones lower and there's shade and sun and we were playing music and it's really a great way to spend a morning.
after lunch we took off on bikes to visit some vineyards (it's wine country majorly here, all vines) as they all have free tastings, though the people pouring were not entirely happy with the fact that we tasted all the wines and didn't buy any of them. after two wineries with at least fifteen wines between them we were a little wobbly on the bikes out in the hot sun (thank goodness it's all relatively flat) so we decided to detour to the river, which was great as far as as it was cool, but swift moving and not good for swimming, just wedging a foot between some rocks to dunk all the way under without being swept away downriver. but then we got to ride back soaking wet and that was fun! oh and just a goodbye note, i know there haven't been any pictures really but i've been able to get some off my camera here, and i'm going back and adding them so they go with their original story, so check them out, the bird is crazy, i can't believe i got that picture of him thinking about eating my tomato...

Monday, January 19, 2009

the neverending journey

well i have finally made the trip and switched islands. after twenty-odd travel hours by bus (coach) and ferry i am not officially on the south island, and i made it to the berry farm in renwick (i can eat all the blueberries i want here! is this heaven?!). before i go on let me apolagize for any terrible spelling in the course of this blog, i know it has occured previously but now it's far more apt to happen as the keyboard i'm using has all the letters worn off the keys and therefore whenever i look down i become seriously confused.
the bus i have concluded is definatly not a glamorous way to travel, nor the most timely. i have a friend who is flying from auckland to queenstown for $20 less than i paid for two busses and the ferry! and the starlight (overnight) auckland to wellington bus, while a good idea in theory, is just a big headache. i think i slept for two hours maximum among all the readjusting of seats, shuffling, getting on and off, and loudspeaker anouncments to say nothing of the man seated in front of me who had the most absurd sounding cough ever (impossible to describe really) which cut through my headphones turned up to the loudest volume i could stand, and felt like a smack to the head every time. also i have discovered after a good week of research, that new zealand transportation while extensive, is very much not on time! every timetable was off by atleast 20 minues, causing me to be constantly running from one platform to another carting my bags and elbowing people out of the way (if you are going to move painfully slow, must you block the entire flow of traffic and force them to comply with your snails pace speed? what for company?!) and jumping over old ladies left and right. i just barely made each connection and i scheduled them with an hour of wait time minimum. i dislike untimely things. i dislike it very much.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


no i didn't miss-spell that, it's what the resuraunt is called (or diner or whatever) where i just got my last auckland meal. i had done thai and indian and didn't really feel like inducing the sadness which comes from me trying to find something to eat in an italian resturaunt and there was burgurfuel and it was like an angle decending. i could smell the fries-excuse me and sorry, they are called chips here.
and it got me to thinking about how new zealand doesn't really have a native cuisine but just offerings from elsewhere around the world. and then i though about what was american food and the only thing i could think of was a burger and milkshake. we didn't really invent apple pie, or pizza, or sandwiches and what else is american? i'm sure people were having bacon and eggs and pancakes before we stole the indians corn..... so do we have our own food? maybe not
yesterday, in a lull in the rain which foiled my plans of an island day trip i ventured to the post office to mail some postcards (note: if you want to get one, i've got to hear from you first) and then i walked a little further and went to the bank and then i continued walking just for something to do and because it wasn't raining and i saw the clouds lifting to reveal the sky tower, looming over the skyline and luring me in with it's promises. i had tried on three seperate occations to go to the sky tower when i was first in auckland, as it's the tallest building in the southern hemisphere and i like tall buildings and elevators and stuff like that, and every time, i was foiled by unfriendly weather so i though maybe if i sneak up on it, without delaring my intentions of a visit, i might successfully be able to assend it's amazing heights and veiw the city with cars like little ants and all of that. so i walked in a vaguely skytower-ly direction and poked in some shops and eventually ended up there, and got a ticket and went up. and it was beautiful. looked like a postcard. but really, couldn't i just have gotten a postcard? honestly it made me feel a bit jaded. like once you walk around the veiwing platform a few times and get kicked in the shins by a little girl with a stuffed skytower doll, isn't that all you need of the sky tower? was it worth all the effort to see it? thank god i got a discount (backpacker) or it would have been even more dissapointing. i wonder if the eiffle tower is a letdown to? that would be so sad...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

the bog

unfortunatly it's raining here agian, which totally stomps all over my plans to go to rangitoto island (across the bay from auckland) a barely 600 year old volcano with lava flows you can walk through (bring a torch) and a great veiw of the city. but it's far to wet to go trekking (or tramping! as they call it here. a very suspicious word...)
i am very happy to be back in auckand, it feels as though i have never left. last night i went out to the local irish pub "the bog" on parnell with a small group, all of whom speak other languages and are trying to learn english, or improve what they already know, so i was english teacher/coach the whole time. we got into a hilarious discussion about words that sound similar when spoken with a french accent (they all speak french, and sometimes would break into long strings of it, and i was left to wonder 'what are the saying') like "beach" and "bitch", "sea" and "see", "teeth" and "tits", "mouth" and "mouse" and "moose", "sheet" and "shit" and so on. and how, in english, the grammar they used in school is far mor 'correct' and formal than the way we would talk in america, so why don't they just teach speaking english as it woul be so much more useful?
there was local music at the pub, so loud we couldn't speak inside and be heard so we had to move out to the picnic tables outside. they musician, throughout the evening, preformed songs by the police, ben taylor, bob marley (no woman no cry, no less!), matchbox 20, the killers, the strokes, green day, the fugees, kt tunstell, jet, the white stripes, and otis redding! among other hilarious selections, and managed to make this eclectic mix of covers sound exactly the same!
i was also proposed to by two irish guys (marrige, if i want an irish passport-aparently it's very useful to have?) and asked on three seperate occations by non-native english speakers to explain the significance and meaning of the word "wingman"!

Friday, January 16, 2009

the last week in brief

hello. i've been away for the past week up north with no internet access being (as one friend so eloquently put it) a farm slut. since i have been unable to write of my agricultural adventures i will now provide a synopsis of my last five days...
Monday: planted 240 baby corn seedlings (a minimum number for proper genetic variety) saved from last years crop, and gathered three large grain sacks of shallots.
Tuesday: cleared the accumulated brush, brambles and taller-than-me wild grasses which had grown in the last six months around the small trees planted at the edge of the property to provide shelter from the wind.
Wednesday: sorted four varieties of dried beans and planted them in 30 seedling trays (with 60 beans to a tray), then (after being rescued by a post-lunch rain, i canned peaches. till it was dark.
Thursday: garlic. sorted by size, grade and weight, then bundled by 20,30 and 50 depending on size and hung from the ceiling of the hay barn to dry. my hands still smell vaguely garlic-y. i also assisted in chasing a runaway cow. two weeks away from giving birth to her fifth calf she jumped the fence of her paddock and decided to go for a ramp through the vegetable patch, eating all of the beetroots and some of the fennel, before running wild through the neighbors hay field. it easily took a half an hour to direct her back towards her field as lulu, as she is know, is a cow with a major attitude.
Friday: went to visit the bees and adjust one of their homes, giving them more room for all of their honey. had to be fully suited up in a giant white suit with gloves and a zip-on mesh fronted hood to protect from stinging. after lunch i put on dugeree's (overalls) and gumboots (rubberboots) and did some liquid feeding in the vegetable garden. this involved filling buckets with a mixture of seaweed, cowdung and five year old eel bits, and toping it up with water, then walking up and down the rows with a watering can, bent double, pouring the ridiculously pungent liquid over every single plant. and then showering. twice.
and now i have returned to auckland and all of it's dubious pleasures for the weekend, followed by a twelve hour bus ride to wellington and then a three hour ferry across cook straight to picton on monday. oh i do so love the bus...

Sunday, January 11, 2009


today i woke up at 6:30 in the morning to the sun shining through the window ans hitting my face. the rain had finally stopped. after trying fruitlessly to go back to sleep i gave up and got up. and ate breakfast. and showerd. and packed. and walked to the post office in parnell ($1.50 to send a postcard to American!). it's amazing how much one can get done when they wake up so early.
last night i sat on the porch eating chocolate cookies as the sun went down and the sky tower lit up (and i thought about how it's someones job to look over all the light bulbs there, to make sure they work) and my new french friend taught me how to play chess, and i helped her with her english. and i actually wasn't that bad. i always thought chess as so complicated but it's relatively simple once you get how all the pieces can move in different ways. and now i have to leave again, and move onto a new place, now that this one feels sort of like home.
i'm off to the farm, wish me luck...

Friday, January 9, 2009


my first day in new zealand i found myself sitting in a little sidewalk cafe, in auckland, overlooking all the boats setting out to sail in the bay and eating breakfast. i got bacon and eggs with hash browns and oh my goodness i think it was the best breakfast i've ever had. now maybe this was because it was the first proper breakfast i ate since brunch before i left california (if i don't count one incredibly greasy omlette i got in fiji, which i don't) or maybe because it was totally perfect. the eggs were fluffy and the bacon was obviously cut by a butcher due to it's irregular shapes, and the hash browns... i don't know if i'm a good enough foodie to properly describe these hash browns, to do them justice. they weren't shredded potato thrown on a grill for a minute like back home, they were crisp triangular wedges, so crunchy on the outside that they held together when propped up on their side and so well cooked that seam rose out of them when they were cut open and all these spices.... wow. why doesn't america do their potato's like that.
and as if this breakfast couldn't get any cooler, a group of little speckled budgies came and hopped around my plate while i was eating, venturing bravely to the edge to inspect the grilled tomato and then flying a bit away but returning again.
and then i walked in circles for an hour looking for a post office....

Thursday, January 8, 2009

post script

i think i have figured out what all the fanta flavors are (tthey are prevelent in fiji)
orange=orange (obviously)
yellow=pineapple (sticky sweet)
pink=guava (i think though the label was sort of worn so i was guessing on flavor)
it's like pokeman-collect them all! (and end up with a really strange colored tongue)

movies on T.V.

i have amazingly escaped from the pull of fiji. having been there i now understand why they practically paid me to go during this season. it rained for the last two days i was there. and i'm talking serious rain here: heavy, sideways, loud and with a wind that made all the palm trees bend rather alarmingly. there has been a cyclone warning since yesterday and my friends day trip to robinson crusoe island was canceled this morning due to 'turbulent weather' some people said cyclone, and some hurricane and we spent many hours debating the difference. was a cyclone only on the water and a hurricane when it hit land? or did it refure to the direction that it was spinning? none of us could figure it out but i managed to make it to the plane and exit (sort of ) gracefully, none the less.
since it's been so rainy i've been feeling a little like i'm back home, and when it's rainy at home i always want to curl up and watch movies. well in the last few days, especially spending so much time on airplanes, i've seen an incredibly ecclectic selection of movies. i saw city of ember, igor, and nights in rodanth on the way to fiji. and then i watched babylon a.d with a fijjian boy named geralde and he told me how he believed vin diesel to be the best white actor and then we proceded to talk extensively about american politics, the new president, and economic situation in the us, and he told me he had had to quit playing rugby when he when to theological college because it's not allowed (the violence i think, and maybe the competition). then this morning we watched a terrible made for tv movie with some very farmiliar guy who we finally figured out was one of samantha's numerous boyfriends on sex and the city. they projected it on the wall of the hostel resturaunt cause no one could leave due to rain and i think they were hoping we would buy more food (we were having a junk picnic from the market across the street cause the hostel prices were insane. like $10 for a corona!). and then on the plane to aukland this evening i watched beverly hills chihuahua's and it was terrifying... and yet the only thing playing so i watched it anyway.
so i've made it to new zealand safely and considering how little we all did in the last two days due to the weather, i had a lot to write but i am done now.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

rain rain go away

it's been raining non-stop here since yesterday evening. not constant but only letting up for fifteen minutes or so. and with it has come the slanting rain and the noise. what a kerfuffle to see all the little skantily clad girls running from the wet.
so i've been putting in some serious reading time (my friend kaitlin recomended middlemarch cause she thought it might take me a significant while) and i have discovered that george eliot (alias mary ann evans) was totally a cougar. she married john walter cross when she was 60 and he was 40. way to go!
i had to sleep on my hands last night to keep from scratching my bug bites in my sleep and i drempt of fanta, dancing and singing. i wonder what that means?

Monday, January 5, 2009

funky music

the hostel i am staying at has a bar/resturant/ pool hall adjacent to a swimming pool which boasts "we have awesome funky music"
which seems to mean old michelle branch and moondance.
i woke up this morning to the realization of what it was i had forgotten to pack. the disasterous results of not having insect repellent are displayed quite gruesomely on my left leg where i have 82 bug bites of various size and itchy-ness. it is however a very effective way to learn that lesson.
i went into nadi this morning when i finally woke from my jetlag induce coma. everyone is friendly in such an agressive way here. they all say hello (bula) and you have to say hello back but then they want to know where you are from and how your holiday is going and 'just look at my shop please, very pretty nice things' and it's hard to escape their clutches. i did see a very beautiful temple though, painted so many bright colors and with the most wonderful layered carvings of elephants and flowers. it looked like some sort of elaborate pastry all covered in sugar roses, but you had to take your shoes of to go in and the ground was so hot it made lingering an imposibility.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


well, i have decided that new york taxi drivers have nothing on the dudes driving taxis in fiji (personal experience precipitates this realization). first of all, there is no unifying color to make the taxis themselves highly visable (so you can't hail them cause it might me a normal car but they do slow down as they pass you if the don't have a passenger to see if you need a ride, but that's not accurate either because normal people in cars do that as well-very friendly), secondly the roads in fiji are TERRIBLE and full of potholes. the cars and car to road position is the same as englands, and the drivers tend to veer out of their designated road sign to miss potholes large enough t o get lost in, look closer at a cool bush across the road, play chicken with an oncoming dumptruck or any number of other possible reasons i could likely come up with. i just took a taxi from outside the airport in votualevu to right near the beach and my driver (in an unmarked car of course) almost hit me when he picked me up and then scratched his nose and almost went into a ditch. it was the height of excitement really...

crossing the worlds middle

well, many hours of screaming baby awesomeness later i have successfully made it to my first destination. fiji at 8 am is so hot. but amazingly vivid colors, so much green and blue. just trying to get myself together and all i want to do is sleep (but i'm trying to make it to the night). i've sweated through my fresh clothes already. i understand now how travel (the actual getting from one place to another) can really wear on someone, it's just mentally exhausting if nothing else, too much in too little time i guess. and it's odd to think that i'm in another country (on the other side of the world no less) as it took so little time to get here relative to the distance it is on a map. and the whole time things still freaks me out as i left on a saturday and 20 hours later it was monday! still trying to wrap my head around that one. and now that i have babbled i must go figure out what to do while here, beaches seem to be an obvious choice...

Saturday, January 3, 2009


well, first interesting thing to happen on this just begun trip. my flight to fiji has been delayed (by two hours) so i'm hanging out in a lounge waiting to board. it's weird how many times i can go through my bags contents in my head and still not know what it is that i forgot. cause i must have forgotten something, it's really quite impossible that i didn't and i just hope it's not something too important. the bag itself went to fiji ahead of me and i hope it makes it there, cause i want to go swimming tommorrow (i guess it will be monday there) and that would really put a damper on my plans. quite the killjoy. anyway sounds like my plane hasn't been delayed any more, so i best head towards there. wonder what they'll serve for breakfast...