I don’t feel like I’m on a trip anymore; I live here. I’ve settled in this city, Napier. I’ve spent the last couple weeks working with the original apple gang. Blueberries didn’t pan out, but I eventually caught back up with my ex-roommate, Tony. (Did I mention that Tony has a “Fuck the police” tattoo on his arm. Elly—you’d love him).Unfortunately, today was the last day of apple thinning. Picking season doesn’t start until February. My goal was to only use my kiwi bank account for the rest of the trip, but now I’m not sure that will work. After getting paid last week, it is down to 33 dollars. But this week should be a bigger pay. Some of the guys there make really good money. The work is contracted, not hourly, and they can move fast. I’m by far the slowest one, but am still doing better than minimum wage. The work itself is exhausting. I basically was running up and down a ladder for ten hours a day, standing on the “Danger: Do not sit or stand on this part of the ladder” part of the ladder in the trees I’ve got quite a nice tan at the moment, actually. I’m kind of bummed to be leaving. All the guys I worked with were either Kiwis or Islanders, and I really like them. I think they like me. I’ve kind of befriended one guy, Stu, who’s a kiwi, but just travels the world working and coming back here for the summer to work on orchards. I’ve never met someone quite so intensely mentally energized. The whole time, if he’s near anyone, he just goes. Talking about travels, cooking, movies, politics, literature, anything, and it often merits a one word “ay” from the half-listener, but that doesn’t stop him. I love working near him. He gave me a book of Sam Hunt’s poetry (my impression is that he’s New Zealand’s Kerouac. Drunk and drugged and rambling all over the country in his Cadillac).
We went to the beach last weekend to go camping and surfing with a bunch of germans from another orchard. We just sat outside, talking and drinking and listening to music all night. In the morning, we didn’t end up surfing because there were no waves.
Later I went to these waterfalls and cliffs with my closest friend from the backpacker’s, Roy. (It was pretty fun—you just dive/jump/hurl yourself off of cliffs 30 feet above the water). He’s Israeli, and we’re very similar. We don’t really like large groups, get nervous in them. We’ve been watching movies at night, and taking turns doing dinner. We’ve also started running. I like him because he just intuitively knows things. “When you are at home, you eat at the table with your family and it is set properly. I reckon this about you.” I like this relationship.
I have not been a morning person since high school. Now, I wake up at 6 everyday. I can’t believe it.
Until a few days ago, Tom and I were the only native English speakers in the backpacker’s. Now there are a couple British guys, Dave and Patty (who I am going to start working on an apricot farm with on Saturday). Mostly, the people here are South American, but there are also a few French and a lot of Asians. (Thai and Japanese). My roommate is French, and it’s been over a week so I can’t tell her I don’t remember her name. I need to figure it out. For a little while, it was frustrating not really being able to communicate that well with anyone. Now, I like it. A linguistic buffet. And I just read this line in my book, The Names by Don DeLillo that really hit home:
"What pleasure in the simples greeting. It's as though one friend says to another, "How good it is to say 'How are you' " The other replying, "When I answer 'I am well and how are you,' what I really mean is that I'm delighted to have a chance to say these familiar things--they bridge the lonely distances." "
Right now I really like the comfort in familiarity as opposed to closeness.
In bad news, my car is in the shop. This concerns me. If it dies, I won’t be able to sell it and use the money for my plane ticket home. I was stupidly counting on that. Also, when I came here I wasn’t factoring in day to day expenses. I have no idea why. Part of the reason I came in the first place was because I was sick of working and not really making any profit because of things like rent and food and Nico’s. I obviously still have all of those things here (Nico’s aside). Anyway, I’m trying not to worry about the car until I hear something, but I’m counting on getting it back for the apricot farm. I was right about not being able to get a job without a car.
Lastly, I joined the library and the video store. Can you get more settled than that?