Thursday, 30 December 2010

Kaukapakapa


Twenty men and forty women attended the ten day Vipassana course in a remote and peaceful valley 50 miles north of Auckland.

Vipassana meditation is a technique that was developed by the Buddha 2,500 years ago. It is not religious or sectarian. It has proved to be successfully used in prisons in India, also in a women's prison in America, all with dramatic results.

The days were long and hard: 17 hours, with two vegan meals,
rising at 04.00, breakfast at 06.30 and lunch at 11.30. Twelve hours were spent with eyes closed meditating in a hall
under subdued light. The sexes were strictly segregated. The only sound in the total silence was a gong which summoned one to start and finish meditating and to come to the silent meal times. It was revelatory to have unresolved thoughts come to the surface, which had lain buried, in the unconscious, for years and to be able to work on them.













Top. In thespian mode
Centre. A quiet glade
Below.
The Vipassana Retreat

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Wilderland

Wilderland is a charitable educational trust which was set up in 1964. Many people refer to it as a hippie commune, which is completely wrong, the garishly painted 1970's wooden houses may give that impression, so too can the members' faded, worn out clothes, which in fact are a result of working on the land in bright sunshine and their frequent washing.
This stay was my third over a 10-year period. Their main source of income has been from produce and value added products sold in the organic shop, which is situated on the main road nearby. This time I was the shop keeper on two occasions. Herbal Maori teas, crafts, traditional skin care potions and creams, creams for bites and cuts, the much vaunted manuka honey, as well as three other types, freshly squeezed citrus juices, macademia nuts and many other fruits and vegetables.
The tipi


Now the community is moving more towards education and outreach within the local community. Partnerships with business and commerce can serve as a valuable link for those who have no experience of living in harmony close to the beautiful local environment, which was once occupiedas aMaori settlement and burial site many years ago. To use the land special permission had to be obtained. The sois are deep and dark. The gardens are set in small clearings set within the local native fauna.


Part of one of the citrus orchards

Each morning we assemble, after breakfast and get task assignments, which are both educational and well supervised. We work for four hours to fulfil our part of the exchange, before sitting down to a meal produced largely within the community and cooked by one of the team.
My time here has been quite magical, with laughter, good communication, openess and acceptance by younger people, which is pretty unique, and with healthy vegetarian food.
I will be out of action for the next two weeks because I will be attending a 10-day course in Vipassana meditation. During the period i will not be able to talk, a very hard thing for me, but I have done one before and survived

The rock pool is used after the sauna










Interior of the shop










A Wilderland view










The Pink House










Lunch time









Sauna in the bush







Lunch












Older transport














The Dome House











Long drop composting toilet










Garden furniture!











Tipi: interior










Rob weeding













At home on the range


Sunday, 28 November 2010

Houses and Gardens

KarunaFalls is an intentional community and is run as a co-op having been established over 30 years ago. Members built their own houses (about 30) and they live their lives seperately, but come together to discuss the business of running the community, this entails responsibilities and obligations such as grass cutting, bush clearing and bridge repairs, management issues, at regular meetings in the Community Hall. There is no mains electricity, or water. Most residents host woofers like me. Some residents have a huge solar panel array and live a normal life with all the usual household appliances. Water comes from mountain streams. Some residents are lecturers at Auckland Uni and come home for week ends and holidays. Others work locally on roads and bush regeneration, others are architects and consultants, or work at home using the internet. Some are retired and live with the other members in harmony with all around, supplying most of their food needs from their plot.

The place is set in a large, remote and forested area at the north of the Coromandel Peninsula, serviced by gravel roads. There are no buses serving the area, so I had to hitch the 60km in. Fortunately I was able to get three quick successive lifts, the last one was from an Australian cyclist who had done PBP last year, so we had lots to chat about. I was able to see a tremendous spirit of community and friendliness in all, this came as quite a shock to me in coming from England. Maybe if I had my time again this would be the life i would choose!





A house at anearby community






A house at Moehu Community






A community house






Another non-estate house!








Steph's house







Katie's House, in a clearing









Bush kitchen





View from my house to next door






My residence while at the Community

Breakfast and Lunch

Every day I awoke with the thought of another wonderful breakfast and lunch. Most of the produce came from the garden where I was staying. It is late spring in this semi-tropical area, so we sat outside on the deck, eating mindfully and fully enjoying each mouthful. The only problem was that I had to go into the garden and pick it.
Left. Salad with passion fruit flower and others
Custard apple (cherimoyer)
Below. Loquat waiting to be picked.



Strawberries and banana passionfruit.



Coromandel Coast Trip

On the way to my next host allowed me to travel further up the coast, where tar roads ran out, also mains electricity and water. Regenerated native forests proliferated in this mountainous area, with them having a silvery/white sheen of native manukas (tea tree) in blossom. There are a few holiday homes and a few intentional communities with various styles of organisation, one of which was to be my next stop.


Moehau Community Sandy Bay
Port Charles Kennedys Bay

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Before availing myself of the lift offered by the two young French girls, who were going to the same host as me to wwoof, I had the need to get a pair of bolt croppers, as i had lost the key to my security lock for my rucksack. Fortunately the back packing hostel had one, as this sort of thing has happened before.

I did not have a car on this visit and as also i have not been able to track down my old Jack Taylor bicycle that i used on my last visit here in 2003. It was decided to return to my favourite part of North Island, the Coromandel Peninsula, which is on the east coast. The two girls were going to stay with John, who i had stayed with before. His farm is beautifully set on hills overlooking green fields of cattle country eight miles from the main town in the region, Thames. The views are outstanding and constantly change with the weather and time of day. His house is constructed from rimu, a reddish local hardwood. It was trucked to its present position some years ago from another region after an earthquake there, but before doing so it had to be cut in half for transporting.

There was a variety of tasks available to me, such as mending chicken fences, pruning hedges, weeding the veggie patch, cutting grass, removing tree stumps with a spade and pick axe, stacking fire wood for the wood stove. At night we went possum hunting which is a pest imported from Australia; they ravage woodland by stripping tree bark. I have a new friend, Polly the Staffordshire terrier who accompanies me everywhere and was always looking for the opportunity to play games.

All in all my time at John’s is proving great; outdoors in the wind and sun of the springtime that is making me weather beaten and tanned, and oozing wellness. The only downside is that i have been eaten alive by sand flies, little critters that leave nasty red lumps making you want to tear at them with your fingers to relieve the itching!.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Dude Pommie rancher

Chicken pox pf the leg
John's wooden house



Me mowing grass for the cattle


View from John's house




Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Coromandel, once again

I got a lift to the Coromandel Peninsula from two French women to start my wwoofing adventure. Wwoofing is a system of getting free board and food in return for four hours of work a day. Wwoof allows volunteers to stay on organic farms and join in with the various projects hosts are busy with. A variety of properties are spread throughout NZ, including farms, market gardens, communities and ventures in self-sufficiency, in which organic growing plays some part. There are over 1,000 hosts in NZ.
Alternative styles of life can be experienced; skills can be learned, interesting people encountered. In sum it is a chance to develop and grow.

Auckland

One approaches Auckland low over the sea of Mapukau Harbour. The fresh green scenery of early spring comes into view, rolling hills, sea splashing onto the numerous beaches around. On disembarking into 20C, the intensity of the light makes you screw up your eyes, until I was able to fish out my sunglasses.
On my last two visits I had been arrested for carrying banned substances: sage, which is used to reduce the smell of old socks (I had flown in from Buenos Aires after travelling through Central America. The second time I had an apple core in my bag, which the sniffer dog had picked up). I was apprehensive as I had a packet of rolled oats for breakfast for the next few days and Marmite for an addict. This time I got the all clear.
The bus into the city followed a helter skelter route passing small, detached, old wooden clapperboard houses painted in a variety of pastel colours.
Paykel house, 42 St Stephens Ave, Parnell. Photo / Christine Cornege
Te Ana Lodge front

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Kuala Lumpur

Petronas Towers used to be the tallest building in the world at 1,436 feet.
Kuala Lumpur Airport was a complete contrast to Thief Row: friendly, attractive and helpful staff. The city has food that is quite different to east Asia, with Malay, Chinese and other influences and still has a colonial feel to it.
It was dissapointing to see the disappearance of so much forest, it is now a monoculture, to that of palm oil, which is used in the manufacture of most toiletries

Monday, 25 October 2010

Off again: October, 2010

The first real frost of the year arrived this morning. The central heating was tested and found to be working, it was allowed to run just long enough to get the house up to 13 centigrade.
Next week the clocks will change, but by that time i will be long gone. In fact i will be sitting on the roof of Central Backpackers, Auckland (ACB), in shorts, and plotting where i will start my two months springtime tour before moving on for three months in Oz. Well, someone has to do it!