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This little island. Only about 800-1000 residents, 110 square miles and 62 miles north east of Auckland. It took FOUR hours to get there via ferry. This wasn’t just a quick Anacortes to Lopez trip, but worth every awful rolling wave and sleeping on hard plastic benches. I don’t bring Jack to the island, because it would have been 140 dollars extra. Instead I hitched around, and this was my first hitching experience! I loved it. But instead of waiting at an intersection like most, I would just begin walking in the direction of where I was headed. No point in standing around. I was on the island for two weeks, the longest I stayed in one place. The owners, Maire and Phillip were great. I always feel unfair criticizing WWOOF hosts because they manage so many people on a very inconsistent basis. Some people stay five days, one week or three months. Some helpers are immature, don’t know English or are just plain rude. But then again, don’t depend on WWOOFers for work if you can’t manage them. Most of the work I did was gardening and weeding in the morning, then dishes when the pub was open in the evening. The only paid staff at the pub was Jules and Lew, a couple from the UK staying during the summer season.
From working at the pub I met a great group of guys my age. The male to female ratio on the island is about 5:1. Ladies- if you like those salty seadogs. The last weekend I was on the island a rugby match took place between the island boys a team from the mainland. It was clear most of the island was at the match because I walked for about thirty minutes until the first car stopped to give me a lift. The locals smashed the opposing team, making try after try with ease. What followed was a typical testosterone and adrenaline fueled evening. I just played table tennis all night. One of my opponents was Will, a local who, I was told, has only left the island a few times in his life. Our first meeting was him confidently stuttering, “You are from China,” after asking where the other WWOOFers were from. I didn’t feel like arguing with an old drunk man. But every time we met again, he would apologize for the statement. Another similar event happened when I got picked up from an older man while hitching. I got into his car and we exchanged formalities and he was surprised I was from America because he expected me to have a Chinese accent. I have no judgment toward these men, but really?! Besides these racist comments I enjoyed my time on the island. It’s such a simple and relaxed lifestyle. There is no power so everything is solar powered including the local radio station. It is volunteer run and “turns off” at 9 pm in the summer, with static replacing the underground music. There is also no hairdresser, bank or ATM.
Instead of writing a novel for this post, I shot a little video highlighting the Currach Irish Pub and the beautiful beaches. The dog at the beginning of the video is Onyx, a black German Shepherd, a spastic but very smart animal. Nichole, one of the locals, took me to Palmers Beach, which is only accessible by foot through an unmaintained trail. We sunbathed on the beach while Onyx threw sand on our faces as he chased flies. The last beach was right outside of the pub, with gorgeous sunsets every night. More happened then socializing at the pub and going to the beach, but not much. I hope to make it back to GBI, it’s truly a place like no other.