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Sorry about the last entry's 'one huge paragraph' issue.  Paihia's internet cafe left something to be desired.  Like smooth-running internet.  Sigh.  In fixing the paragraph problem today, I lost the comments that Megan, Emma and Bryan left for me.  Saddies.  Thanks, kids, all the same :) 

Yesterday.  Hiking.  Got up early and packed up my bags, laced up my hiking boots, and followed the beach back to Waitangi.  Across from the reserve property was a path that wound along between the Waitangi golf course and a tidal inlet.  I keep forgetting that I'm in a sub-tropical country, and am constantly being surprised by my jungle-like surroundings.  Palms, huge ferns, creeping black vines, moss covered trees, thick underbrush and what sounded like hundreds of birds all stood, vibrantly alive on either side of the crushed stone track.  The path led to the Haruru falls, but as I had to catch a bus later that day, I didn't have time to make the 5km to the falls and back.  I was just happy to be out tramping (which is what they call hiking here).  Mangroves!  The trail met up with a boardwalk through a mangrove forest.  These are very cool little trees.  At low tide you can see the entire root system – long, thick roots stretched out further than the tree's branches, with long, skinny breathing tubes sticking up out of the mud.  Crabs the size of a quarter skitter across the wet mud, in and out of their little holes, and snapping shrimp make noises like popping gum throughout the forest.

Rode a bus across the middle of the northland (only about 130km coast to coast), and met up with Maureen, my WWOOFing host, at the bus stop.  So far this WWOOFing thing has been rewarding, but not at all what I expected.  I got in the car, and as we're discussing sort of preliminary things, our respective histories, etc., Maureen tells me that her husband of 35 years has just left her.  He ran off with a Japanese WWOOFer girl in her 20s.  Oh.  Um…jeez.  I am amazed that she was willing to take me on, another young WWOOFer, only three weeks later.  Guys, never, ever do this to your wife.  I barely know this woman, but it's obvious that she is in incredible pain.  She's extremely kind and generous, and very motherly – she keeps forcing me to eat and eat and eat; she wants me to try everything.  It's sweet, and I'm glad that I can be here to distract (?) her and provide companionship.

Serendipity Orchards – citrus.  Oranges, tangelos, persimmons, pepinos, and this amazing fruit called simply 'lemonade' – it's a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange, and it tastes like the best lemonade you've ever had: the perfect combination of sweet and tart.  The house is one story, somewhat unfinished, but pleasant enough, and is ringed by gardens.  Roses are the only flower I can identify, but between the gardens and the orange blossoms, it smells like heaven.  There's a little dog (Jack Russel mix) named Wag, and several sheep, including two brand new babies.  Last night I mowed the lawn for her, and this morning we sorted oranges to send to the organic wholesaler in Auckland.

Last night I also saw two small cockroaches in the bathroom sink… ohgodohgodohgodohgodohgod…I had nightmares all night.  It's just for a week…I'll pretend I don't see them…oh god…*shudder*  At any rate, I'm not there right now.  I'm spending tonight and tomorrow night housesitting in the next town over.  Rosie's B&B, on Doubtless Bay.  The proprietress is out of town, and wanted someone to come and stay with her daughter and the B&B guests.  What luck!  A little mini-holiday on the beach!  With free internet access!  I tried to go to the beach today, but the tide, the clouds, and the wind came up too quickly.  So I've been lounging around the house reading and watching TV with Rosemary's (Rosie) 14-year-old daughter.  The shows here are very limited and pretty awful.  But the actors look like real people, not anorexic fashion models, so, points for that.  I feel kind of bad, sitting inside just watching TV in NZ, but I wanted to meet Kiwis and be a part of real life, and this is real life for a 14-year-old Kiwi.  Oh well.  Tomorrow, the beach (and no cockroaches).  G'night!

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