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The week following our trip to the river was what pretty mellow. The thing about wwoofing is that you never really know what kind of work you’re going to be doing. When I was looking at hosts on the wwoofing site before leaving Montana, I had found the marae and contacted Paora to work with him. After chatting awhile, I told him that I work at a web design company back home, which he found potentially useful for the marae. He got me started on building a site with Wix, which is a free service with ads and such. I spent the second week building a site for him and training him on how to make updates to it after I left.

So having spent most of that week at the library working on the website, there isn’t much adventure to speak of here. However, we did celebrate Drake’s 20th birthday which was memorable, albeit hazy in retrospect.

On Tuesday, after working at the library all afternoon, Tibo and I got picked up by Moritz and Drake. We swung into a liquor store aptly named LiquorLand and picked up some drinks. I got a mini-growler of beer produced by Good George in the neighboring town of Hamilton, Tibo got a bottle of wine (which turned out to be “too young”), and the fellas got whiskey and Coke. We sat around the dining area and had our drinks and played music on the small speakers that we had. Drake couldn’t help himself and played a song from back home over and over until we all had it thoroughly stuck in our heads. Sheesh. Another tune that was on constant play was a little Neil Diamond diddy, that’s apparently a staple at baseball games. I’m sure that I’ll forever associate these American tunes with New Zealand.

To go with the whiskey, the fellas also got a couple of stogies.

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Wednesday was mostly spent recovering from the night before. I didn’t feel too well after the mixture of beer and spirits. By Thursday morning I was back on my feet. That morning, Moritz and Drake were to leave the marae and continue on their journey. They planned to hitchhike an hour and a half to the town of Taupo. In the morning, we drove them into town and dropped them off on the main drag. They had their cardboard sign with “TAUPO” written in sharpie, we shook hands, said our goodbyes and they were off.

Since Moritz had driven us into town, the driver’s seat was open and Paora said, “Jump up and drive us to the library, Fletch.” I hadn’t driven on the other side of the road (and the other side of the car) yet, but thought, “how hard can it be?”; we were only going 2 blocks. Drake had told me to just keep the center line close to my right shoulder and I’d be fine. I signaled and pulled out into traffic and intended to turn at the end of the next block. Paora thought I should flip a u-turn. So I signal back to the curb to get a wide turn. With my situational awareness all messed up from being on the other side of the car, I ended up grinding the heck out of the front-left wheel on the curb. Uff da what a sound. Tibo was in the back laughing at my driving skills as I apologized to Paora for the poor move. I pulled away from the curb and got turned around, I went to turn the blinker on, which is on the opposite side of the steering column, and turned on the wipers instead, which drew more laughs from the backseat. I proceeded to get flipped around and got us down the way to the library without further incident.

We hung out at the library awhile, I gave some training on the website to Paora, checked my emails and such and we took off for further errands. I told Paora he should drive and we were off. We headed to the other side of town to visit some of his friends at a community food co-op. We sat and had tea and snacks. A fella named Paul came in and said he needed some help picking up some 20-foot long corrugated sheets of metal from a guy in the hills, which Paora volunteered Tibo and I for. Paul did a bit of maintenance to his rickety trailer, so that the sheets would lie flat, and we jumped in his truck and took off. His work truck was pretty crazy; the backseat was completely filled up with trash and debris. There was a Burger King cup that looked to have been from the 1990’s or maybe earlier! He also had a little russel terrier called Quinn, as well as this little guy named Pango.

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I was a bit apprehensive about loading and unloading heavy sheets of metal while wearing Chacos. But everything was fine; we got 8 sheets loaded onto the truck and trailer, strapped them down, and headed back to town. We met back with Paora and he told Tibo and I that we would be driving to the neighboring town of Te Kuiti to take care of a few things. We cruised along at 80 kilometers down a winding road that took an hour and twenty minutes. While there, Paora did some banking, he bought Tibo and I some Chinese takeaway, and we stopped for a beer before heading back. The rest of the evening was open and we hung out and relaxed.

The following weekend would be when Cassie and I would begin our 9-day vacation, and I was counting down the minutes until I would arrive back in Auckland to see her.

Friday went by quickly, Paora was busy hustling around as he was hosting a meeting for the marae trustees. I did a bit of kitchen cleaning in the afternoon and then got my things packed up as I would be leaving that day; my bus was scheduled to depart at 2:30 in the afternoon. When the meeting wrapped, one of the trustees gave me a ride into town; Tibo joined so he could go to the library to catch up on the net. I got dropped off at the bus terminal, Tibo and I said goodbye to one another and I got on my bus. I had a 5-hour ride back to Auckland ahead of me.

Cassie had told me that she and Sue would be picking me up and we would be going to dinner. I passed the time by reading, listening to podcasts and watching a movie on my laptop. When I arrived in the city, the two of them were there waiting and we set off for Sue’s car so I could drop my bags. We walked a few blocks so a sushi train restaurant and enjoyed beers while we dined. Later in the evening, Sue dropped us back at Cassie’s nan-fam’s house and we said goodnight. We were set and ready to jet the next morning and begin our vacation.

I’ll pick it back up in the next post. Thanks for reading.


p.s. There was a room that I could see from the outside of the marae through a locked glass door, but I couldn’t figure out how to reach it from the inside; the place was massive. On my last day, I went exploring and found the room that I had seen each day when passing by the glass door. The architecture at the marae was all just so unique. Here are a couple of photos; the windows are naturally lit from the outside. These kinda belong in the post titled, “2/22/17: The Manu Ariki Marae”, but since I took them over a week after the photos in that post, I thought I’d put them in the correct sequence.

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