PART322 A confusing birthday party and the milky way

Sunday, 27th, March, 2011. No work today and I think yesterdays work and the general stresses of this week have resulted in me getting a cold, I swigged some garlic juice and rested in front of the TV watching the discovery channel, I watched an old program with Ray Meer’s in Africa. I have enormous respect for Ray Meers he is very genuine and seems interested in the world, certainly a life style to emulate I think. I also watched a program about Bear Grylls an adventure explorer, he ate worms, jumped into the peat bogs in the highlands on purpose and made make shift zip lines from high rocks onto trees, it was a nerve racking experience watching it and I also have enormous respect for how brave he is.

Mauris our land lord came back in the evening; we haven’t seen him for a long time as he has been involved with his rugby team. “I have hit the wall, I am off to bed” he crocked after a glass of water, so at 6 in the evening he went to bed.

Fan and Esther came and picked us up at 9 and we went to their house it was someone’s birthday, I asked Esther whose birthday it was, she said it was hers, but later I found out she was joking, then she said it was Kelly’s birthday. This I believed and when we arrived at their house and the cake came out and we all began singing “happy birthday to you” and we got to the part where we sing the person’s name I sung soundly “happy birthday dear KELLY happy birthday to you” everyone looked at me funny and I noticed that the cake was in fact in front of Peggy, Esther had tricked me again. I apologies profusely to Peggy and sung her Happy birthday in Mandarin, Esther and the rest laughed long and hard as did I.

Later we gazed at the sky and the sparkling Milky Way, the mass of bright shining starts, trying to name the stars, it turned out none of us had much astrological knowledge. This didn’t detract from the spectacular view.

Everyone was drinking beer except for me, it was so easy not to but I knew that if I did have even a sip it would make me want to drain the lot so I stuck to my guns and to my mug of water. I felt so happy and blessed, to be with such a large group of cheerful people who I liked, to be able to be on the other side of the word and feel welcome and at home


PART321 the first full day at Travelyan

Saturday, 26th, March, 2011. It was a rather big shock getting up at 6 in the morning but after a chopped banana, soya milk and special K I felt much more awake and like a right good boy for eating so healthy. Sarah Maggie and I walked down to Te puke and waited with the large group of other Travelyan workers in the darkness, Soon Ike and Brenda the owners of the caravan sight turned up in their cars and we got a lift up to Travelyan. When we got there we got straight to work. Cracking open boxes and lining them with plastic. I became ruthlessly efficient and soon had nothing left to do “does it get faster than this?” I asked my supervisor “why are you getting bored? We can move you down to the number 18 boxes they go a bit faster”. I agreed and soon I was sweating profusely trying to keep up with the new job I had. The number 18 boxes are smaller so the packers fill them up faster and not only do I have to line them in plastic I also have to put another hard plastic tray in so it’s more time consuming. I wondered why I opened my big mouth but I thought it’s better to be tired and busy rather than bored looking at the clock. That way madness lies, the older American man to my left is constantly huffing and puffing, looking at his watch and saying things like “oh is it time for a break yet?”

To my right Eva a pretty Ceck republic girl helped me when I fell behind with my number 18 boxes, she only had the big boxes so she had time on her hands.

The day went quickly but at the end of the day my feet hurt and by back was sore, it’s been a shock getting back into physical work again, I am glad we have now made at least a little money.

PART320 bad times with MJs part 2

Friday, 25th, March, 2011. We were woken up very early in the morn, the sound of children running and screaming, doors opening and closing. MJ knocked loudly on our door. Sarah opened it testily “hay bro are you going out today?” “Yes” I replied groggily. “We are going out now” he said. Sarah slammed the door in his face. When they had all gone we got up, tired from only a few hours sleep we emerged into the kitchen. There was a plate of grizzly boney meat in the kitchen, heaps of dirty plates and glasses, bottles and bongs littered around and a rough smell of old meat and spices. Even if we had been brave enough to get some breakfast we couldn’t, they had taken the key to the shed so we couldn’t get to the fridge.

We took as much of our unpacked luggage as we could carry and walked to the house Maggie was staying at, Maggie’s land ladies ex husband had a room free which was near, we trusted this because Maggie had stayed at his house before and she said he was a good person. This was enough for me. We met Mauris at Maggie’s house and he took us to his big house. It was clean and quiet. We put our bags in a room “sorry guys I have to go out we have a rugby party today. Make yourself at home” and he was off. I felt like giving him a hug and thanking him.

After we had moved we went back down to Te puke and to the police station, I wanted to check if MJ refused to give us our money back if we could do anything about it. The kind woman at the police station said she didn’t know but that we should go to the community help centre to find out. We walked there and the front desk woman said she also didn’t know. “If you didn’t get anything signed then you haven’t got a leg to stand on, it’s an unfortunate situation” one of the women in the waiting room piped in. We were given the number of Tenancy NZ which dealt with rent and housing issues and knew the ins and outs of the law. I called them up and talked to a man about our predicament “does your room have a lock?” was one of his first questions, the answer was no “then we cannot help you unfortunately, we deal in property leases, this in when your renting the exclusive rights to a room or property, if it doesn’t have a lock then you are a guest and it is another matter altogether, let me give you the number of the community law centre” the man said. The man on the phone was very sympathetic like the people in the community centre and the police station but they weren’t giving me the information I needed.

We had planned to go to Mt Mounganui today to snorkel, so Maggie Sarah and I got on the bus and as we drove there the heavens opened. When we arrived at the mountain it was still raining and the wind was high, I was determined to get in the sea and try and get some abalone or other things for the pot. I put on my flippers and mask and snorkel and headed out to sea, the waves were big and constant, surfs slicing past me on the foamy waves. I got a good few mouthfuls of sea water, I had forgotten exactly how vile it tastes. I got out to a little rocky cove and began diving a bit but the water was so tumultuous and cloudy I could barely see my hand in front of my face also more worryingly I felt myself being pulled powerfully out to sea. I gave up and began to make the exhausting journey back to shore, I kept looking at my surroundings in relation to the rocks and I was making little or no progress. I was so tired. Eventually after body surfing back on the waves I got back to shore and had a rest. I made another few expeditions but with no catch at all, it was too cloudy. I knew I was in the wrong place, the man I had met in the super market had told me to go around the island to the challen area which was safer but we didn’t have enough time before the bus came back so we left mt mounganui seafoodless. The sea was wild and the rain was cold, the sky was gray and underwater nothing to be seen.

On the bus journey back I called the community law centre, they said that it was an unfortunate situation but unless we had something signed then there was nothing we could do, it was unethical to rent out a room but it was a private agreement, even if we had something signed we could just go to the small claims court and even then they didn’t really advise it at all. I suddenly didn’t care anymore, I just wanted to get the remained of our things from MJs and leave that awful place, I didn’t care about the money. Over this day I have been in confusion as to how I feel. Going from anger and hatred, thinking that I will demand my money back to feeling weary and disinterested just wishing it all to be over as soon as possible.

When we got back to Te puke Sarah and I bought a pen and paper and wrote up a contract stating that we had given MJ rent and 100 dollars deposit and that when we left we would have the 100 dollars returned. We didn’t have much hope about the rest of the rent but at least if he signed this we would have a little power. We walked home and I felt so nerves, when have unpleasant situations like this, being horrible, getting angry or anything like that, it’s something I try and avoid like the plague. I called my guardian angel to me and I felt calmer and safe.

Before we went back into the house I turned my mobile phones video camera on and kept it in my hand at an angle which would hopefully catch whatever happened and if we had the urge to take this to court maybe it would make things easier. MJ signed the paper and then I lost my bottle, he was in his living room, his family and many other friends sitting bored and languid. I left the room and asked Sarah for help. She went and called MJ in to the hall way. As he came in I remembered the times I have been in a situation like this when I have been annoyed when someone has taken liberties with me, I almost always back down and don’t get angry and I always regret it, thinking after with remorse all the clever things I could and should have said.

MJ came through the door and I suddenly became confident again I told him that the last two days had been unacceptable and loud, he began to interrupt and say “bro, it’s…” I towered over him and raised my voice “I am tired and pissed off; I am talking so let me finish. We are leaving now and there is no discussion, I expect my deposit back and the rent which we haven’t used up yet” he agreed to give the deposit back but not the rent. Sarah flew in and began shouting and telling him to shut up, all communication broke down then and the volume and the ‘you stop talking and let me finish” flew around. We told him to get our deposit and he drove off in his car to get it from the bank.

I felt so good, I had at least tried to stand up to him and at least we had got our deposit back. We called Fan and he picked us up in his car and we loaded our heavy back packs into his car. Fan has helped us so much with lifts, taking us to look at places to stay and being a friend. MJ came back and thrust the 100 dollars back into my hand “we have talked to a lawyer and we are going to take you to the small claims court, you should expect a phone call” Sarah told him. “Ok that’s fine” he said coolly but I could tell he was worried. “See you later MJ” I said as we got in the car and he back into his. We won’t bother with calling a lawyer but it was satisfying to see MJ looking worried.

The elation of it all being over was immense, we went back to our new home and relaxed, I still felt tired and wasted but so relieved also we had a full day of work the next day so I was looking forward to getting some money as our funds are rapidly draining away.

PART319 Bad times at MJs

Thursday, 24th, March, 2011. I woke up tired and worried, with all the night time revelry which went on until 4 in the morning. I had a dreary conversation with Sarah in the morning. She had come back but after asking MJ to turn the music down and him turning it up again a few minutes after she came back in the room Sarah left and stayed at Maggie’s house so I had a hellish night on my own. I had wanted to go to Mt Mounganui today to go snorkeling but Sarah was adamant to go and find a new place to stay. I complained to MJ in the morning about the noise “yeah bro sorry it was like someone’s birthday last night it won’t happen again” he said dismissively. I didn’t believe him about it being a birthday party but I held out some hope that the noise would be kept down the next night. I am worried about just packing up and leaving because we gave MJ 100 dollars deposit and 90 dollars each for the weeks rent. MJ has our money now and could quite easily withhold if we just up and left.

I knew the first time we went to see his house that something was not right. I felt it in my gut, my instincts kicked in and said “get out now”, I so keen on moving out of the caravan that I literally put up board with the first person I met on the street. I chastised myself and wondered how I, someone who prides himself on being aware of his instincts and gut feelings and prides myself on being someone who listens and acts on it could make such a stupid error of handing over my money to a total stranger. When we had gone into the living room they were all eating, the smell was strong and disgusting, a meaty thick stench which followed us back into our bed room.

Esther and Fan came and picked me up in their car and Sarah arrived from Maggie’s we all drove to a house which was up for rent to see if it was suitable. “Oh it is in a Maori area” Esther said “They like to steal”. We passed the house and there was someone in the garage. ‘is it an Indian person, I don’t want to stay there” Sarah said. Everyone looked worried. I must say it would have been very easy to have gone along with this racism after last night and seeing the loitering Indian people leering at me and Sarah in the nabourhood, hearing the loud ridiculous music blaring from beat up boy racer cars and walking past the nabourhood houses and the smell of spices and curries which I find sickeningly foul, It would have been easy to agreed and said “ right let’s not go and have a look then I don’t want to live with another Indian” but instead I rose above my aggression and simplicity and began to mildly berate and educate the cars men and women.

We agreed to get out of the car and walked up the drive way to see the house and the room we might be able to stay in. The man in the garage was actually a Kiwi and so was his buck some tanned wife. She kindly showed us around the house. It was large light, but messy and dirty. When we got back in the car after our tour Sarah asked Esther “so what do you think?”, “no you shouldn’t stay there, they look like rockers they will also have loud music and parties” Esther said factually. I was past the point of caring. I didn’t think they looked like rockers but I was in no mood to argue now. Esther told us that we should just bare it until the end of the week and leave “you are in another country you should just deal with other people and what they do”. We agreed and decided to stay for the rest of the week until the rent was depleted.

Maggie came back to MJ, s with us and we started cooking, his children were crying and screaming in the living room while Mj walked around moodily shouting and threatening his children, “ is she going to be eating here every night bro?” MJ asked about Maggie as I went to the fridge. I stayed friendly and polite and said she wouldn’t be. MJ followed me into the garage where the beat up old fridge was, I went to get some vegetables for cooking. Also in the garage was a silver car with a crack in the wind shield. “Oh bro you know we trying to sell this car and someone threw a rock at it” he said in disbelief. “So is there anything wrong with it then aside from the wind shield?” I asked “ no bro it’s a good car man it runs so well you want to buy it?” he said. The interesting thing was that earlier that day when MJ was out his wife had told Sarah and I that they had brought the car and a day after buying it they found out they got cheated and there was something majorly wrong with the gear box or something like that, they couldn’t even drive it now. Here was MJ trying to sell it to me now. He seems like the sort of person who has got so used to lying but hasn’t mastered how to do it convincingly, more of a thoughtless compulsion rather than a foxy mastermind trying to cheat.

 You can just smell the lies and oozing out of his body. We cooked and ate standing up as “there are only two stools and one of them is wet” MJ wife told us. After the meal MJ came up and said, “Bro, You should go to Te puke and get our key cut if you want a key while you stay here”. I flatly refused this and he gave us his key with a huffy air. Maggie Sarah and I went for a walk after dinner

We stayed out as late as possible and with heavy hearts Sarah and I went back to MJ in the evening. The music was on but not too loud, there were about ten people around lounging drinking and smoking bongs. I made an effort to be cheerful. At 11: 45 when the music had got louder and more people had arrived I went out of our room and moodily told MJ to turn the music off. He was in the kitchen slumped against the sink, hood up looking wasted “bro you can turn it off” he said slurring his worlds and pointing to the laptop. I began walking over and then stopped “do it yourself its fucking late” I said and went back to bed. A few minutes later the music was still on and Sarah and I flew out the room and glared at MJ and the 20 or so other people in the sitting room. It went stony quiet and the music was turned off. I slammed the bedroom door behind us as we went back, my heart thumping in my chest I was angry tired and a bit scared.

Things just got worse from there, the lap top music was off but it was replaced with the tinny sound of a Mobil phone playing music, also the sound of the front door slamming and the rising volume of voices made it clear that many more people were arriving. It was 2:00 now, Sarah and I quickly decided to leave the next day, I didn’t see much point in going out to a large group of drunk strangers and try and reason with them to all go home so we just laid there and discussed our escape plan for the next day.

At 3:30 most of the people had left and the volume subsided to a degree which allowed sleep, I was almost there when from next door we heard MJ wife singing loudly to herself. She was singing in whatever language Maori speak, it was a tuneless song, sung very poorly. Sarah got up in a rage and banged on the wall loudly “for fucks sake” we heard her say. She stopped for a few minutes and then began to sing again.

PART318 First day of work and moving to MJ,s

Wednesday, March 23, 2011. We packed in the morning and after a bowl of noodles which was far too spicy we went down to Travelyan to finally start work, when I say start work I mean do half a day. A big group of people had congregated outside the pack house and after a short briefing we put our aprons and hair nets on and scanned our fingers and we were in.

A vast ware house, bright florescent lights and a high cogitated iron roof. A moving belt with kiwi fruit on it moved along, little machines would flip the kiwi fruit off the conveyer built and down slides and into a tray for people to pack. I was not allocated for packing. I was a tray liner. I had five stations to feed boxes into so that the packers would have fresh boxes. Before feeding the boxes to the packers I had to put a plastic bag in the box. I opened boxes and put plastic bags in them for 5 hours. It was much more tiring than I would have thought, my feet hurt the most but the time flew past, I chatted with the man next to me who was from the martial islands, “ there are many Muslims in England no?” he said looking worried.

I got very involved with trying to do the job as fast as possible, up to the point I had lined too many boxes and the supervisor came over and told me not to take a break. Another thing I tried to do was line a box as quick as possible. You have to open two flaps and then take a plastic bag from a hanger on the wall and make sure it goes over the whole box. I managed to set my own record of 4 seconds, it was very fast and I wonder if it can get much better. Unless there is a technique I haven’t yet discovered. The florescent lights which were very near my head made me sweat a lot.

After work Fan helped us move from the caravan and we moved down to MJs house. Mj and a crew of women where lounging out in their garden, MJs children running around. I didn’t want to move, I would have preferred the company of other workers and a hard bed, rather than sharing a house with a strange family for a soft bed.

After settling in Sarah and I went to Mc Donald’s which had free wifi, I was anxious to post my back log of blogs and send off my a few stories to competitions I had already paid for. Sarah’s computer has been having problems with connecting to wifi and we left Mc Donald’s unsatisfied. When we got back and found the house full of people with blaring loud Indian music vibrating the house I lay in bed and felt sorry for myself. It would be another 3 weeks of this before we could move to the house we wanted to stay. The music was just so loud and crap and it made me think of what it would be like to live with a group of waster idiots in university. I tried to escape with reading Moby Dick but I am afraid the Indian music tainted the whole experience and I gave up, Sarah went off to see Maggie to get a sleeping bag because we only had a single duvet, although MJ said we will get one tomorrow.

I wouldn’t be surprised if I am just feeling low, tired of today’s work and move and feeling pissed off that I had just made a bunch of friends and now have to move. I am sure that soon my adaption mechanism will kick in and I will morph comfortably into the shape which is required of me.

The light in the dark is the thought of snorkeling tomorrow, I don’t care if it’s raining, I don’t care if it’s snowing or there is no bus and I have to walk to the mountain, I don’t care if a fucking tsunami is predicted. I am going snorkeling tomorrow. I am going to the sea, to dive and explore alone, in the relative silence of the ocean. I will hold my breath and swim deep and look for things to catch and eat. I will arm myself with a net and a knife, to catch and pry things that I want.

I just went out for a walk, the constant thumping music next door began to make me feel desperate, it would stop for a moment and then after a moment or even a minute it would begin again, it changed from the Indian music to really crap techno, not even the ultra cheese stuff which I can at least enjoy in a sort of ironic way, by just noise, shit noise. I walked to the centre of Te puke, I noticed Sarah hadn’t returned yet and I suspected that she had gone and hid at Maggie’s house.

I ate in a Chinese restaurant; the stodgy glucose slop reminded me of how Chinese food abroad is shockingly bad. At least I filled my stomach, I then went and got a twister ice cream and enjoyed it immensely, I walked to the park and had a go on the swings which made me feel queasy. Maybe I am too old to swing now; my constitution cannot take it anymore. I lay on the slide and gazed at the stars, which were half blinded by two tall bright street lamps. I walked home feeling a little better and when I got back I made an effort to socialize with MJ and his friends. MJ looked like he was stoned; there was a lot of giggling adults, laughing at simple things with droopy eyes. I gave up and here I am again back in the soft bed. They just turned the music on again, now its rap. Sarah isn’t back and to be honest I wouldn’t be surprised if she didn’t come back at all and just stayed with Maggie, I hope she does, I can easily live with this but I think Sarah will find it too much.

There is some comfort in suffering alone but when someone you love is also suffering its much worse. Of course suffering is a overstatement but in a new country when you’re in a place you don’t like and you don’t feel comfortable and worse yet you don’t know where else to go then I am afraid suffering is the first word to comes to my mind.

PART317 Kago,s party and mussings about drinking

Tuesday, March 22, 2011. We decided not to go snorkeling today as it was raining in the morning, sods law after the last bus went and there was no hope of getting to the mountain the sun came out with a vengeance, what’s more when I went down to Te puke to get some bread and get some money out I got a 20 dollars phone voucher, in the form of a receipt and absent mindedly threw it away in the bin with the ice cream wrapper. I only realized when I got back up to Trevelyan’s camp site.

On the plus side we have half a day’s work tomorrow, some people are leaving now because its taking such a long time to start work, I have a feeling that as soon as we just have one cold night we will be working flat out for a long time. Kago was starting to bake her cake in the afternoon, eggs flour and sugar all over the place.

I cannot remember which day I quit drinking, which is probably a good thing; I am not counting down the days although I did have a dream last night that I was getting wrecked. I have found I don’t much crave the booze, it’s mainly a rather slippery thing, I am sitting down and my mind like a greasy slab of meat will slide into the “where’s the beer?” frame, I have to catch myself and remind myself why I stopped. I have been thinking about why I like drinking, according to Allan Carr we don’t like drinking in any shape or form and that the pleasure you get from it is just the temporary relief from the brain washed craving we have for the stuff, Like wearing your shoes really tight and then taking them off at the end of the day just to feel the relief of not feeling stressed anymore.

 But I don’t fully agree, I think there is something about alcohol, which is more than an addiction, something else which drinking however inadequately or ham fisted gives us. Maybe the excuse to go wild, to unashamedly revert to our animal self’s, something which to a great extent is frowned upon. Maybe it’s the shutting down of inhibitions, the temporary relief from having to judge and measure, and run our lives. Maybe it’s a whole host of things, but one thing is for sure whatever it does give us it’s not an exclusive quality to alcohol or drugs, there are other less harmful ways of getting whatever it is.

The only thing which is not really positive but is very convenient is that you can buy it in a bottle almost everywhere. Whereas lasting happiness or exploring our different aspects cost more and isn’t as instantly accessible. I tend to drink when I feel like letting go, I feel like leaving my life for a while and taking a break, when I am in an amazing mood I think “getting drunk right now would really top things off”, Maybe it’s just the bonding experience with friends, doing something supposedly manly together, like the pack animals we really are. But then that doesn’t take into account why I like drinking alone. I like to watch a few films and steadily drink until my mind jumps and slides into corners it usually doesn’t other wise, while my emotions are on fire.

This of course is neglecting the fact that sometimes I get depressed when I drink. Although I used to get paranoid when I smoked before and used to go to very strange places there is a much thicker bodily effect with alcohol, it effects the whole, making a depression or an elation magnify. A worrying aspect which I think is a tell tale sign of an addict is that I never feel like I have had enough and although recently I have hardly thrown up from drinking I have learnt how to push it to the very limit, almost spilling over into the abyss, how to keep it at that level to keep drinking as much as possible. Then the next day after the hangover has left I just want to do it again. And again and again and again.

Another negative side effect after a good bend, after a weekend of drinking, on Friday Saturday and Sunday is the feeling of lethargy and how unenthused with life I feel. All in all I am happy I stopped drinking and it’s good for me to remind myself about the negative aspects and to try and forget the positive things. I have reached a stage now, like I reached a stage with smoking weed when I am now more conscious and cautious and think about what it does to me.

 I used to be able to smoke and drink and although I wasn’t unaware to the effects of my actions I simply didn’t care and in all truthfulness I didn’t think it would happen to me, the invincible youth. Now I think I have turned a corner where even if I don’t manage to abstain I will at least be aware of what I am doing rather than in denial. Denial being the correct word instead of ignorance, because there isn’t much we don’t know how to fix; it’s just down to what we really want to do. Potential is as common as dirt, over rated. It is what we do rather than what we can do. No one is famous for what they might have done, no one respects people who say “I could have done this” or “I really want to do that”.

Like Ishmael I now know which boat I am on and I know what will sink it and although there is still a great danger of capsizing I am at least facing forwards with my hands on the wheel as opposed to facing my foamy wake rudderless and unwilling to navigate.

There you go shipmates a bit of a nautical way of expressing that I am aware I have a drinking problem, yo ho ho and a bottle of….freshly squeezed kiwi juice.

At about 7 the kitchen filled up. Kago and masushi, Sophie, Bonny the woman from the Philippines and Alice. Kago and Masushi made a marang cake and sushi, bonny made vegetable wraps and Alice made Taiwan pancakes, Sophie made a noodle dish and Sarah a celery salad. It was a fun occasion; I helped to wash up and beat the cream for the cake, and made a roll of Sushi. Sophie told us she just got a job at the sushi shop in Te puke, Sarah was literally green with envy, but of course she wouldn’t be able to do the job as she has day shift. I was surprised that Sophie took the job “ at the moment I only work 5 hours a night, so during the day I can work as well”. When I hitch hiked down to Te puke earlier today I spoke to a man who was doing the same thing. “I work the night shift then work driving a tractor during the day”. The man said ‘that not very safe at all’ I thought to myself “I only sleep for two hours a day, but like today I have a day off so it’s ok I can sleep all day” he explained to my raised eye browse ‘so sleep all day apart from right now were your driving’ I wondered if I should have got out of the car.

The dishes where all cooked and we sat down for the meal, Kago opened a bottle of wine and she poured people drinks. The food was excellent especially the marang cake, like a soft heavenly cloud kissing the inside of my mouth with sugary marshmallow lips of ecstasy. I must learn how to make this divinity, this god cake. The conversation moved around varies topics and my fears where confirmed when Mike the man from Manchester who had spent the last 40 years in NZ began to talk about depressing things “ oh we are all out of control and heading for doom, but it’s alright”. Last time I had a chat with him we had barely got past name introductions before he began in this apocalyptic vain “we are going to wipe our self’s out, but it’s alright”. He has a irritating habit of saying “but it’s alright” at the end of all his morbid sentences. ‘How exactly is it going to be alright if we kill everyone?’ was a question swimming around my head. He would mumble and sigh knowingly at anything which was said. A sort of “whatever will be will be…but we are all doomed, but it’s alright” exclamation.

All that shite aside the evening was a success, lots of laughing and picture taking and good food, I will miss the communal eating area in Trevelyan, I will miss the people. I will not miss the caravan or the bed or having to walk to the other house to go for a wee or a shower. You cannot have it all can you? And even if you could I think it would become rather boring, in the same way humans have a huge capacity for dealing with pain, so do we have a huge capacity to deal with pleasure. I think even everything would not be enough for me.

At the end of the night as I sat watching TV and everyone departed I got the strongest craving to drink I have had yet, I weathered it and when it was over I had a shower.

PART316 Kago wants a party

Monday, 21st, March, 2011. Maggie, a friend we met in Yang shuo over 3 years ago was in the area. She has been in NZ for almost a year now and has come back to Te puke to find work. We met her at the countdown super market, Sarah and Maggie chatted and caught up excitedly while I went to a charity shop to buy a knife to prize off sea life from rocks when eventually we go snorkeling. I found a can opener which looked well suited for the job, a small sturdy piece of metal with a curved spike which would allow leverage when declamping crustaceans.

After a chat with Maggie outside the super market Fan and the crew turned up in their car and we said goodbye to Maggie for the moment and got in and drove to Taranga, a large town about half an hour’s drive away. I was hoping to get a bus from Taranga to Mt Mounganui but it didn’t look hopeful, I went to the information centre in Taranga, a typical sea side town. With small colourful looking shops, sea gulls squawking and open breezy restaurants. The information shop gave me a bus time table and after a browse I found out that we could go the next day and come back in the later afternoon to Mt Monganui from Te puke, Although this was helpful my main find of the day was from a trolley collector in a supermarket where Esther and the rest were looking in. I asked the man where the nearest bus stop was and after him telling me we got into a full blown conversation about where the best place to snorkel is around Mt Mounganui. It would appear that although the base of the mountain which falls into the sea is teaming with shell fish there is a danger of getting a good dashing against the rocks, what this chap suggested was there is a channel around the other lesser know side of the mountain which has a rock barrier with a channel in between so that the waves don’t buffet you so much “ oh its super safe I take my children to snorkel there all the time, there is heaps of stuff to see” he said with a wide arching swish of his hand.

Now this is the sort of local information which I am interested in, its gold dust, It’s what you learn if you stay in a new place long enough, something which is harder to get if you’re doing traditional back packing and your main focus is on the travel as opposed to the locations. I bought a red bucket and a net from the super market. Everyone took a painfully long time looking in the super market and only bought a few things but I was happy, I had now accumulated a snorkel and flipper set, a net and bucket and a can opener for prizing things from the depths. And some info about where to do it all. Now all I have to do is actually get out there and get on with it. I am so impatient, the buses are shockingly none existent in Te puke and we cannot seem to hitch hike or get lifts to the mountain. I want I want I want!, I tell you when I finally get into that ocean and see my first meal and swim around looking, exploring in the clear sea, Alone with nature, I may well think I am in heaven.

We got back from our lengthy trip to the supermarket and I made myself some noodles with lettuce and streaky bacon, Kago and her silent friend Masushi were cooking a fragment risotto. Earlier that day Sarah and I asked them both if they wanted to move into the flat we are going to rent in a few weeks. They appeared interested but said they should think about it first.

 “We are both trying very hard to find boy friends” Kago laughed as we both prepared our meals, Masushi nodded in agreement. It’s such a common thing to have two friends, one who is extremely talkative like Kago and the other almost completely silent, like Masushi. Even when Kago talks to Masushi she mainly nodes. In fact the only thing Masushi said today was in response to something Kago said

Kago: you looked at the weather forecast today didn’t you Masushi?

Masushi: (looking at me with a serious intensity) tomollo its laining

Then she went back to stirring the risotto and we didn’t hear from her for the rest of the night. On hearing we were leaving on Wednesday Kagos eyes ignited “oh we must have a leaving party for you!” she exclaimed. I tried to dissuade her as I felt uncomfortable, I barely knew these people I had only spent a week with and what’s more I would be seeing them all when we started work so we weren’t really leaving. But Kago wasn’t to be stopped “I will bake a cake” She resolved. She then went round the camp site telling everyone there was a party tomorrow. Sophie came and sat on the Sofa with me and Sarah and Kago ran up to her and began whispering in her ear, I could tell she was asking Sophie to cook a dish tomorrow. I continued to dissuade Kago but she just smiles with her big mouth and giggled and ran out the door, I suppose to go and ask others to join the do.

We got a phone call from MJ saying it would be alright to stay with him for a few week before we moved in to Jane’s house so it was time to tell Brenda that we would be moving from the camp site. I must say I wasn’t looking forward to telling Brenda, seeing as we had reserved the caravan for two weeks before and said we would probably be staying for a few months. But like most things you don’t want to do the worst part is that demonic brain in the head which creates a fake world of stress which after you experience the reality of what you fear usually disappears in a flash and is replaced with a feeling of relief and the realization that you had nothing to worry about in the first place. Brenda understood that the bed was too small for me and said “there are plenty of other people to stay in there”.

After telling Brenda I went back to the communal kitchen and sat down and chatted with Kago who was now asking Alice if she could cook a dish for the party tomorrow. Alice is from Malaysia, A small Chinese Malay girl with long hair and half shut eyes which give her the look of being permanently sleepy, she is very friendly and always has a warm smile on her face. Kago talked about her hitch hiking experiences “ I know it’s dangerous but I always hitch hike, I was hitch hitcking from Christchurch after the earth quack and a man picked me up, he took me to his house, he had 5 horses and he gave me lunch it was so nice then next I got another lift with an older man who took me sightseeing” I felt worried for her safety, A small woman in another country, no connections here, it would be so easy to go missing and no one would know for a long time. Alice was also very surprised at Kago antics “in Malaysia all Chinese people lock their doors because at traffic lights people will come and open your door and steel your money, it happens so much”. I regaled them with my story about when I hitch hiked in Malaysian and almost got groped and the other time when I got in the car with the drug dealers. “A lot of Malaysians are like that, even the girls are very open like that, and you cannot trust them” Alice went on to show her views of the native Malay people and how the Chinese are not treated well. This is a common theme I have noticed, a view which many Chinese Malays hold. A sort of superiority, they make the point that its harder for Chinese to go to university in Malaysia, that Chinese are harder working and get much better grades than the Malay people and how if you look back in history the Native Malay people are not native at all, they came from surrounding areas as well and therefore Malay and Chinese Malay should have equal rights.

On another note while I was in Malaysia I remember even Malay people saying that Malay people are lazy.” We come from a country where you just need to put a seed in the ground and very soon fruit will fall off the tree, why should we work hard?”

“But you should not generalize” Kago cut in when Alice was going on about the loose morals of the Malay people. I kept my mouth shut as I am not informed on the subject and although a lot of the things I have heard from Chinese Malays sounds correct there is always two side’s aren’t there?

One thing I will say for them is that compared to the sort of racism in the UK the Chinese views appear to be less aggressive. There is something much more sinister about racism in the UK, nothing I can put my finger on, just a feeling.

The evening was pleasant, we watched TV and Sophie and I chatted and Sarah texted on her mobile phone. Sophie is very sweet, she has an American accent which most Chinese try to emulate but when she speaks to me she will try and affect an English accent.

A rain storm broke out just as Sarah and I got back to our caravan, we stayed up until 3 chatting and laughing.