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krauts, croquet, and cape reinga

In the last six days, I have gone from being a tentative house guest to being completely settled in and finding it difficult to leave Maureen's.  While she has been incredibly kind and hospitable, making me feel at home and comfortable, I'm now finding it hard to leave because of the other house guests we've recently acquired – Christoph and Christopher, two twenty-year-old German WWOOFers who are pretty much the coolest people I've met so far.  They arrived last Saturday.  I was supposed to leave Sunday, but then we made plans to go to Cape Reinga (the nothernmost point of NZ) on Monday.  I was going to get a ride from a friend of Maureen's on Tuesday so that I could start heading back south, but it turned out that the friend wasn't going as far as I needed them to.  And in the meantime, C & C have been keeping me laughing, constantly, and have re-taught me all kinds of fun (read: dirty) German phrases.  We've been weeding and mowing together, watching movies at night, and talking about music, friends, sports, culture, and life all day while we work in the sun.  So now it's Wednesday, and I'm three days late for my original departure, and it looks like I might be hanging out here as late as Monday in the hopes that I can travel south with the guys instead of by myself.  That is, of course, provided they let me ride in the car.  Every time I make a particularly good jab at Christopher, he reminds me that they have plenty of room in their trunk, right next to the 10 kilos of onions.  Oh, the car's name, by the way, is Susan, in honor of me and my “ridiculous” suggestion that they name their car.  Ha!  Seriously, though, these are my favorite kids so far, and we've bonded so well that I feel a little bad for Maureen, who has to listen to our inane giggling all day.  She says we make her feel young, so I guess it's okay.

Friday night, before the Germans arrived, Maureen took me out for fish and chips, a bottle of sauvingon blanc and the sunset over Shipwreck Bay – a surfer's beach in Ahipara.  Predictably beautiful, with gigantic waves and the red sky behind the hills.  Maureen got a little silly with the wine, but we had a nice talk, and the food was delicious.

On Sunday Maureen brought us to a friend's house in the next town over for a little Kiwi dinner party.  There were about ten people there, all told, mostly Kiwis, but one woman was visiting from Canada (yay for North Americans!) and another man's wife had just moved here from China (mail order bride…yikes).  Allan (the master of the house), has a meticulously maintained property, bordered by a shallow, high-banked river on one side, and resting against the standard NZ hill (steep and tall) on the other.  They have cows and bees, and make their own honey.  The cow's pasture is ringed by an arbor of orange and yellow edible flowers, and Christopher and I stood at the edge for a half hour trying to convince the cows to come and be patted.  There was a game of croquet set up, and the three of us young people were roped into playing, despite it being near the end of the game and the winner already pretty much decided.  Predictably, we were terrible, and the fact that Wag had made friends with another dog, Pippi, and was racing around the course upsetting balls and the wire loops didn't help.  Dinner was a roast – roast beef and roasted corned beef, plus a fresh caught sea trout and all kinds of vegetables and homemade honey lager.  After dinner: golf.  All of the men (and me) traipsed down the hill to the river, where Allan has his own 5-hole golf course.  The holes are not too difficult in themselves.  It's the hazards that get you: the river, on one side, and the electrical fence around each green to keep the animals off the grass.  Not to mention ditches, trees, bamboo groves and flower gardens that conspire to eat every golf ball that comes their way.  I could hardly play for laughing, and completely lost count of my score, but took comfort in the fact that no matter how bad I was, Christoph was much worse.

Monday was Cape Reinga…

Tuesday was work…

And today, Matai Bay with the boys, who have just woken up, and want to check their email.  More details will follow!

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