01.30.2010 - 01.31.2010 75 °F
For those of you who know me well, you know that when I get tired, I become a mute. A few of you might be nodding your head “yes” right now as you read this. That’s because it’s the truth. When I’m excited about something, I can quite possibly talk your ear off for hours on end, but if I’m tired, you’ll be lucky if you can get a grunt out of me. So, right now, I am exhausted and this blog entry will be the equivalent of me acting as a mute. I’m also writing multiple entries as I’ve been a little lax in keeping up. I’ll be sticking to the facts and I might even break out bullet points to help keep it snappy. You’re probably wondering, “why write at all?” Well, the reason for this blog is that I’ve realized over time my memory is not quite as good as I would like to think. In the past when I’ve traveled, I never wanted to be bothered with journals because I thought it was too much hassle. But, when I start talking to people about my travels and they say things like, “wow – you were in city x, did you see world famous y?” My likely response, “ummmm…. Hmmmm.. maybe. Sounds familiar. I can’t remember exactly.” No more. Hence, the blog. Hopefully, for the sake of anyone reading this, the next few will be my most boring entries. Sounds bad, but really it means that things can only look up from here. Congrats on hitting rock bottom.
The saying, “What a difference a day makes” could not be more appropriate for me than it is right now. Saturday night found me in Christchurch hanging out with Matt and his roommate Hassan, grilling hamburgers and lamb sausage, eating corn on the cob, drinking beer and having an all around good time. Sunday night, I could be found sleeping in a sheering shed with the sound of 500 sheep hooves tap, tap, tapping the night away right above my head. How did I get from there to here? I shall explain. Sunday morning, after a run to the car store with Matt (potentially more on this later, but the black beauty had some issues. Resolution involved a jump start in the beach parking lot. Needless to say, I want my number back from that guy) and a visit to the flea market to meet his dad, I headed south to Timaru with two German girls in tow. I had an overlapping night with Miriam and Jana during a couchsurfing stint and found that they too were headed in the same direction so I offered them a ride. After dropping them in town where they were planning to hitchhike the rest of the way to Lake Tekapo, I continued on my wwoof’ing way (willing workers on organic farms) about 30 kilometers south of Timaru. David (my host) gave me directions and told me to turn down a particular street and look for a white mailbox on the right and a shed on the left.
I had the great opportunity to meet many of his neighbors as it appeared there were a lot of white mailboxes and sheds along the way. When I finally arrived, I drove about 50 meters down to a shed. He told me to expect four barking dogs, but I didn’t see any around. I saw a motorbike and ATV outside of the shed, so I decided to have a peak to see if I might be able to find David. Instead what I found were about 50 cattle on a circular rotating platform with their udders hooked up to a torture chamber device (or perhaps an automated milking contraption. One or the other.) Errr. I had this awkward moment of feeling like I’d just walked in on someone going to the bathroom and you can’t really get away fast enough. “Oh, ummm, sorry to interrupt” I said to the cows. Wrong place. Finally, after a little more driving, I found a white mailbox on the right hand side of the road with a shed on the left hand side of the road. I pulled down the drive and drove toward the shed. I was greeted by four barking, but friendly dogs and I was in business.
Out came David and I soon discovered this was not really the family farm I had anticipated, but rather a one man show. David looks something like a mix between the janitor from the bodyguard, thor from adventures in babysitting and Prince Charles. Maybe a little bit of buffalo bill from silence of the lambs thrown in for good measure. I was already imagining getting thrown into a dark hole while he screamed at me, “put the lotion in the basket. Just put the lotion in the basket.” I tried to remain composure, but definitely had an “oh, shit, please, black beauty, don’t die on me in case I need to make a quick getaway” moment. David greeted me and invited me inside. I started looking around to see if there were perhaps any freshly dug holes. Potential past woofers? Didn’t see any. A small relief. Things took a turn for the even more strange when he brought me into the sheering shed and explained that this is where he lives. Hmmm. Okay. Not what I was expecting, but have to go back to my trip motto of expecting anything, prepared for everything.
David gave me the grand tour and explained how he came about living in the shed. This used to be a family farm and he moved back home after traveling many years for work to take it over. Five years ago, their family home burned down and he had then been commuting from the nearest town, about 25 minutes each way. He’s been working with wwoofers for about 10 years and one suggested that he convert the shed into his house. For the last three years, he’s been doing just that. Upon closer inspection, the shed is a truly incredible feat. I will detail more of this later, but he has the most breathtaking views through his “picture windows” which overlook the farm and provides a view all the way to the ocean on one side and the hunter hills on the other. I’ve put picture windows into quotes because there’s not actually any glass in them. There are shutters which he keeps open year round to take advantage of the natural surroundings. The shed is primitive, complete with an outhouse, but it has everything you need. I will try to detail more of it soon.
After a ride around the farm on his ATV (and I got a lesson and free reign to take it for a spin), we headed back inside for dinner. As we sat down to a delicious dinner of lamb, potatoes and salad, all fresh from the farm, I had this moment of thinking, is this really my life and how lucky am I? I’m sitting in New Zealand, enjoying a wonderful meal, great conversation and surrounded by stunning natural beauty. Although, I’ve had a lot of those in the short time I’ve been traveling, so I suppose it’s par for the course.
After dinner, David got a call from the sheep shearers saying they would be able to come down tomorrow to sheer his herd of just over 500. So, after dinner, David and I hopped back on the ATV to herd them through a series of fences eventually putting them into the shed. And there you have it. That is how I ended up in Christchurch one night and with the sound of 500 sheep hooves tapping over my head the next night.