Sunday, August 19, 2012

Farm #4 - I live in a van!!

It is actually a caravan, and it is called the Love Caravan.  I am not really sure why it has that name - maybe because it has such a romantic setting.  The van overlooks an estuary and it is facing east so the sunrises I have witnessed have been amazing.
The Love Caravan
My view from the caravan

One of the amazing sun rises from the caravan

Let me back up.  I am back in New Zealand!!  I went and picked up my car to discover that the front two tires were going flat.  I ended up having to replace them both then I drove to my new home for the next three weeks.  I am currently living at a sustainable farming community, called Wilderland, on the Coromandel Peninsula on the North Island.  It is a farm that produces fruits, vegetables, nuts, tea, craft jewelry, and honey.  Right now there are about 15 of us living here.  We work on the farm Monday through Friday from about 8:30 to 1 and do farm clean up on Saturday morning.  We eat breakfast and lunch communally and then are left to our own devices to cook dinner.  So far my tasks have included planting, weeding, harvesting, composting, cooking, and working in the shop where the farm sells some of it's products.  I have been curious for some time about community living situations, how they work and if I would like to live on one.  So now I live on one and trying to decide if I like it or not.  Turns out it is a lot like normal life - there are some things I like but some things that I don't.  I like that I get to garden everyday and learn more about it, I like that I get to eat fresh, healthy food everyday and don't have to always cook it,  and I like meeting cool, like minded people.  Some things I don't like, is feeling like not everyone puts in their fair share or wants to be living in the community for the correct reasons.  So far I have been in the community for two weeks and have another farm lined up at the start of next week.  I think at some point in the summer, when more gardening is happening, I will have to come back because I do like living in a community but also want to keep traveling around New Zealand.
Some orchards blooming
The store where we sell goods from the farm
The citrus orchard where I spent a day shoveling compost to the base of each tree
In other news, my friend Dominic was doing some traveling around New Zealand so last weekend I hitched my way to Auckland to visit him.  We did some drinking and some catching up, then he was headed down to the south island and I headed back to the farm.  It was so fun seeing someone from home and to hear about all the news from Olympia.  But this weekend Dom came to visit me on the farm and I got to show him around, the farm and to some beaches in the area which was fun. 
On a walk to one of the beaches on the peninsula
Dom on the beach
We also had some adventures.  First we went surfing, it was my first time surfing and it was awesome!  It was a really nice place to learn because the waves broke pretty close to shore and the water wasn't too cold.  We only had a couple of hours (I don't think I would've lasted much longer) but I managed to stand up about three times and am really excited to get some more practice in.  We only had a couple of hours to surf because that afternoon we planned to hike into a hut and stay the night.  It was Dom, me and a woman named Ffion from Whales who also lives at the farm.  It was my first tramping experience in New Zealand and it was a little bit rainy but really fun.  We left pretty late in the afternoon and had to hike about 5k, mostly up hill, so ended up doing a bit in the dark.  The trail was made of large rocky steps, made for a giant, so my knees didn't love it.  It was nice to hike to a hut because we had cooking facilities and didn't have to carry a tent.  We were the only ones there at a hut that sleeps 80.  We woke up early and walked up another 1/2 hour to a peak to a gorgeous view of the surrounding rock and distant ocean.  We hurried out because Dom had a flight to Fiji to catch later in the day.  It started to rain so I was soaked by the time we had gotten down.  It felt really good to be tired and challenged.  I am back at the farm and just moved into a different house that has it's own kitchen facilities.  I apologize for the time between this post and the last but wanted to make sure I had some good stories and photos to share.  I love and miss everyone back at home :)
Just for scale - you can see the 'hut' - this is from the top of the peak
Close up of the hut we hiked to - it sleeps 80.
View on the way up to the top - not great visibility but nice lighting
Dom on the top
Dom and I on the top
Ffion enjoying a victory smoke
Dom on the way down
Steep path
Cool dead tree

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