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Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Island of Wine

Hopping on a ferryboat, I launched off onto this island just a half an hour from Auckland. The entire island is composed of vineyards. It's called Waiheke Island and supposedly it has its own ritsy, artsy culture thriving among the grapevines and the wine glasses that clink in happy celebration of fine, sophisticated island life.
I had every intention of working in a vineyard. This time of year, the dead of winter, serious pruning is underway. Most of the vineyards on this island deliver high quality red wines; Merlots, Cabernet Sauvignons, Malbecs, and Cabernet Francs, ect. But recently there has been a delving into a few white wines like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. There must be about 30 or so different vineyards scattered throughout this little island with a few wineries, and then the townships of Oneroa, Onetangi, and Ostend. Within my arrival I had a job lined up for the pruning season with a contractor who hops around the smaller vineyards doing whatever needs to be done. The first two days I spent on this very small, family-based vineyard called the Lonely Cow Vineyard. A small group of us, a Brit, a Canadian, myself, and our Kiwi contractor all get to work stripping the deadened vine shoots, or canes, out of the cables. Row after row doing this all day long. Not much different than picking kiwi fruit. Except here, we'd work through the rain. The weather in New Zealand in mid-winter is entirely fickle. It'll alternate between rain and sunshine about 5 times a day. So getting soaked was to be expected, but then fortunately the sun would come up and dry us. Regardless of the vineyard work, I really did not feel to be an intricate part of the fine art of wine-making. I didn't see a single grape.

Meanwhile, I was intent on finding a long-standing accomodations which first had me at this backpackers lodge sharing a room with a snoring Frenchman who was master of the grape and a virtuoso guitar picking German tourist. Not to mention other interesting folk who stayed there. An Irish kick-boxer, a dope-smoking Maori construction woker who was middle-aged and actually was quite the cook, and a kiwi lady who had hopes of becoming a country singer in the US. Though, I greatly doubted this actualization. I heard her sing. But the charge was $160 a week to stay there. And I wouldn't get my own room, but have to share in an open camp-like atmosphere with bunkbeds, loud snoring, and stinking feet.

Everthing on this island was a great bit pricey. New Zealand prices are expensive to begin with, then Auckland prices are a bit much compared to the rest of NZ, and finally Waiheke Island prices are slightly steep compared to Auckland. So I've escalated to the high life of paying $8 for fish and chips which is unheard of in other parts of NZ. (and that's without a drink. If I want a coke that's an extra $3.)

So word of mouth brought me around to the conclusion that I was getting gyped with my rent. Actually fish and chips ladies told me this; the irony is that later a person commented on how the fish and chips people are gypping everyone else off. And being the affable people that kiwis are, they gave me leads as to other, more economic places. One was the chance of living in a wool shed. I guess that's the equivalent to a barn for that's where they store all the fleeces they sheer from all those sheep.

I was on my way walking down, my heart leaping in excitement of actually being able to tell people that I lived in a woolshed on an island once. But there was a problem. I really didn't know what woolsheds look like. Are they big barns, or are they little quain sheds? Or maybe they look like houses? I was walking down the street keeping my eyes wide open for that supreme clue that would indicate "woolshed", when I see this lady walking. I talk to her and we begin walking together for she knows where this place is, but she also mentions the place where she is staying and that I should have a look. This lady turned out to be American, from Massachussetts. Her name was Madelaine. One of the coolest ladies. The only lady in her 50's to have a nose ring. She was also dressed like a gypsy and had long flowing blonde-grey hair. She was certain a flower child. A roving hippie. I got along great with her.

I followed her past the woolshed, which lost its attraction when I heard the TV blaring out of the large tin barn. There was only one large room, and another guy living in it. So it didn't appeal to me. I continued to Fossil Bay where Madelaine makes her abode. And I enter this beautiful little walkway, where small, quaint sheds are here and there spread out. Flowers and gardens and bright colors. It felt like some sort of artist's colony. The next day, I moved in here...and it truly was the best part of Waiheke Island. To be Continued...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, you met my parent's friend in New Zealand... we wondered what became of her! (signed,Dami...)

8:43 PM  
Blogger Capt Zumo & Bug said...

Why would a woman of any age have a nose ring? In my younger days I did see some bulls that have rings through their noses, but there was a usefulness of this oddity. Would she desire to be led around as an half tamed animal? Is it the shocking of others that she would be searching for? Maybe just something to set herself apart from "the normal people" I have no problem with someone that wears this type of jewelry but constantly wonder...why? It looks like it would get in the way of normal life (sneezing and such) and could be a real detriment should physical violence somehow ensue.

8:14 PM  

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