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Monday, July 14, 2008

Living On a Houseboat...Kinda...Sorta

I rented out the perfect accomodation from this Fossil Bay on Waiheke Island. -A sort of houseboat. Or this little shed situated on this wooden, square deck afloat a tiny pond. More like a swamp. I had to balance across a gangplank to get to my beloved houseboat. And I had the entire shed to myself. Though I realized at night that I was sharing the swampy pond with various birds; ducks that would quack dramatically now and then, several pukekus, a New Zealand water fowl, black with a bright red beak that made the most annoying, indescribeable squawks throughout the night. And then nearby was a chicken coop. These hens were mostly silent. But none of these were worse than the one rooster that stood on this patch of land right outside my houseboat. He'd Cockadoodledo every morning at 5 o clock, incessantly until I was about ready to run out, plunge across the swamp, and wring the cursed fowl's neck.

And then if I had managed to go back to sleep, the same rooster would crow in the same spot at 6:30 to make sure I was up before sunrise. Blasted thing. During the day, I actually caught myself plotting murder. Images of myself bagging the rooster, in a sac, feathers flying, blood-curdling squawks ringing out, and then dropping the loud bird off one of the many cliffs that dropped to the ocean below, invaded my mind. But I never did it. Got myself earplugs instead.

The other tenants of the Fossil Bay Lodging were very interesting, likeable people. All of them had been to Waiheke for some time. I had mentioned Madeleine in my last note, but there was also her Kiwi lover Martin. This couple, I absolutely adored. They were both in their 50's, I guess. And had spent so many of their years hopping around living in certain places...England, Ireland, India, New Zealand, etc. Martin worked as a remodeler in these various places, while Madeleine did what she could, cooking, sewing, making things.

Many nights we would sit around the main house. A stovepipe fire heating the kitchen and the greenhouse turned into living room. And our stories would abound of all the places we'd been, the people we knew, and the experiences we had. Madeleine would talk of her camel-guiding days in India. Martin would tell us stories from his boyhood growing up on the New Zealand coast learning how to swim. I would tell a tale about Muslim dance parties in Turkey or midgettowns in Ohio. The stovepipe furnace with its iron door swung open would pop and hiss as embers sizzled to our wholesome tales.

I remember talking with Martin, at length about the book, "Don Quixote". He was reading it currently; we both recounted the parts that we liked best. Who needs television when you've got people with stories, and great books to discuss?

There were other tenants of this lodge. The manager was this Kiwi gay guy in his mid-thirties. A very quiet guy. He kept to himself. They called him the "cybermonk". He stayed up in his attic room often. Helen was another tenant. She was also a Kiwi in her mid-thirties. She was the manager of the island theatre. An artsy cinema where cultured flicks and documentaries were shown while the audience sat on large sofas. My first night at the Fossil Bay Lodge, I went to this cinema, invited by Madeleine, and watched this movie about Bob Dylan. It kinda sealed the possibility of this place being my next move.

However, the working situation was getting a bit questionnable. What I thought was going to be full time work turned out being a full 2 days. On the evening on the 2nd day, the contractor texted me with the message, "No work tomorrow." No big deal It actually freed me up for the 4th of July. I was able to chart across the Gulf to Auckland again and spend that American day with some fellow Americans. Doing American things like eating hotdogs, watching old cartoon He-Man episodes (this was my American childhood.), and going to the movies. And during that American weekend I received another text, "No work for Monday." And also on Monday, no work for Tuesday. So you can see that I began to get a little disappointed. I mean, there was no work and already my expenses surpassed the wages that I've already earned on the vineyard. So, seeing in what another dire strait I was in...and also the fact that the island was so tremendously expensive. I said my farewell to Waiheke Island, to Madeleine and Martin, to Fossil Bay, and to any hope of becoming a sophisticated wine snob.


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