On my way to meet the Holloways I explored the Bay of Islands, situated on the east coast of the Far North. I lunched in Paihia on the beach, a “snackbox” of fried chicken, dosed in chicken salt, and fries. Let’s just say my stomach wasn’t too thrilled with this meal. Then I stopped in Waipapa to get much needed seat covers. They look like a stoners’ poncho. It goes with the vibe.
I arrived in Kaimaumau, where Damien and Kathryn live with their two kids, just as dinner was being prepared. Perfect timing. Charli, a three-year-old cutie, greeted me outside and the house was warm from the fireplace. Damien, originally from Australia, and Kathryn, originally from New Zealand, met in Canada where they were working. Currently Kathryn is a nurse and Damien is becoming a farmer. He used to catch and shoe wild horses horses to sell, but the money is in the avocados.
Damien, Charli and I left at SEVEN in the morning the next day. Agonizing! They had just bought a property next to Katherine’s parents avocado orchard, only a few miles away, with the intention of starting their own avocado orchard. The Far North is where the majority of avocados are grown. I was in bliss as we drove near the older trees, the branches heavy with the fruit. My love of avocados began in Ghana, where they were just as common, as an easy and healthy food choice for breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner. Most of my day was spent hanging out with Charli and helping Damien with boring tasks such as holding a piece of plywood in place. At one point, with a fire going inside and full from lunch, Charli and I fell asleep on the couch. Of course I was reminded of “nap time” for the rest of the week. I believe that naps are practical use of one’s time- to reenergize, revitalize and relax the eyeball muscles.
The rest of the week was similar with easy jobs and hanging out with Damien at the site. Later in the week though, Kathryn, Charli and I went to Kaitaia because Kathryn had physical therapy after shattering her leg from a horse accident six months ago. She only recently had the cast removed and walks with a hobble. Kaitaia is one of the poorest cities in the country from high unemployment rates. It was benefits day, so all the rough and toughs were out and the roads were clogged with cars and pedestrians. Charli and I spent the afternoon at the park where I guided her along the monkey rings and watched her go down the slide a few dozen times. Later, we walked to the library and I read her a few books about fairies and lions.
My stay with the Holloways was short. It wasn’t anything spectacular, but I did grow fond of Shortland Street, an Auckland based soap opera about the fictional hospital, Shortland Street. It is dramatic and at times poorly acted, but fun to watch.
With six avocados and my coffee mug full I was eager to get on the road. I drove to the most northerly tip of the North Island, Cape Reinga, and spent the morning talking to the spirits on the shore.