The Tale of the Mandarin Man and the Pukenui Pig
Trip Start Nov 20, 2006
16Trip End Apr 10, 2009
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Auckland, Auckland, Auckland...why have you forsaken me? Is it my arrogant swagger? My impressive head size? My girlfriend? I thought we had something...
Whilst sitting comfortably in the computer room of the delightful Fat Camel Hostel in Auckland my lovely girlfriend Celina suddenly came to the conclusion that if we didn't have jobs within twelve seconds we would offically be a third world couple. My first though was that poligamy was common in many third world countries. Then my mind raced for the name of the old school malaria medicine I had read about in some James Clavell book... Malaria is rampant in those countries I think! Is it quoonin? Queen in? Queen out? Quinine! Thats it.
I leaped to my feet and asked the guy at the hostel's tourism counter if he could find me a reliable source of quinine within, oh shit, 7 seconds
Celina continued to surf the net while I chewed on a half burnt citronella candle I'd found in the garbage. All praise to Jebus, before some terrible blood sucking bastard had left me with a case of Dengue Fever she had us jobs...just like that. Shitty jobs, but jobs. Bono wishes he could save third worlds like Cel. Pompous Potatoe Headed Irish bastard. Bono, not Cel.
The next morning we were off like a bullet to some unknown place called Pukenui in the far north of New Zealand to work in a mandarin orchard. 4 or 5 hours away across hostile territory and unknown distances between beer stores. We felt it neccessary to hire a local guide but the best we could find was our Brazilian roommate Renato (pronounced hhhairnnatto sorta). You just wanted to yell his name like someone had scored a soccer goal every time you saw him. Which I did. He'd been in New Zealand almost as long as us (5 days) so we felt he could fit the bill. Tall, skinny, brown and with the biggest dreadlocks I'd ever seen Renato is, as they say, quite a character
We had recently picked up our new vehicle and the Safari sat outside the hostel sparkling like a red old jem. Waiting. Waiting for ol slow-poke Renato to sort all his crap out so we could hit the road. Traffic was brutal, I had no patience. People were being run down just for the sport of it as vehicles took to the sidewalks to save time. Then like a sunburst through a bank of clouds we emerged from the megalopolis of Auckland into some of the most stunning countryside I had ever seen, green rolling hills, big rocky cliffs, ferns mized with pines and cedars and of course the ocean, green islands and more hills...I hope this thing has a good clutch...
The entire shotgun trip to Pukenui I was staring out of the window barely watching the road, gawking at the tremendous scenery. Windy roads and a lot of ups and downs required all of my concentration to keep this beast safely between the lines. As long as nothing goes wrong I can gawk and drive. Luckily my face was close the driver side window when it randomly fell off its rails and tried to plunge inside the door.
"WHAT THE HELL?? STOP STOP STOP!!!" I yelled trying to catch the window with the hand furthest away from it for some reason, thereby tieing my arms in knots
"Your driving Jordan! You stop!" Celina said amid a flurry of un-lady-like curses.
"No I'm not! I'm trying to fix the oh shit oh shit..."
Renato laughed and said something unintelligibly Portuguese.
By this point I had swerved out of oncoming traffic onto the shoulder scarcely missing a large wodden post and screeched the truck to a stop on an approach sideways and facing into the far ditch. Still clutching the window with my left hand I opened the door and removed the bastard window from the door before it could fall and smash inside the door. Phew...no break.
Luckily New Zealand is warm and our new vehicle with no driver window was comfy for the rest of the amazing drive. We arrived at our destination "The Pukenui Holiday Park" at about 11pm, which was a bit late as we were supposed to start work the next morning at 6 or some un-godly hour. Right outside the entrance to the camp was a sign proclaiming it a "Friendly" holiday park. Shining praise and excellent advertising! What a relief I marveled, no more pulling in to pay someone for a campsite and having them insult my intelligence, spit in my hair and tell me to fuck off.
"We won't have any of that insulting and spitting trash here Celina." I smiled at her. "Says right here, these folks are friendly."
We met the 'woman' who ran the camp, Jo, and she quickly showed us the cabin we would stay in and told us where to work in the morning and then dissapeared
The next morning we started our jobs and every day afterwards was the same for a while. Thin the Mandarin trees. Theres too many oranges! Thin them hippies! A pretty shit job and without my Ipod I woulda gone bonkers batshit mad. But we were surviving, going nowhere, but staying there and like so many orchard jobs the promise of better pay is always around the corner...so thin them we did. I won't go more into the details of a mandarin orchard.
One day we found a dead penguin on the beach. Now I new for sure...Batman was following me. But I digress...
It turns out "Jo" if that is her real name, the campground owner, is a scuzzy whore from the deepest reaches of hell. Sent forth by Satan himself to torture and take advantage of poor unwitting travelers. And the job payed less than squatting in a ditch poking berries up your nose. (Which, after a recent strike has seen an almost 50 percent increase in salaries and impressivley improved benefits. You can even write off your berries now! Except blueberries, of course.)
Don't get me wrong, the camp was fine, the kitchens were filthy and the people a bit boring, but hey, we're teetering on 3rd world-ness...beggars cant be choosers
Next day our supervisor explained to us (not in these exact words but, you know...) that since we werent paying that dirty rotten pig on the hill to stay in her camp, shes gotten us fired. I was a bit confused. I quickly went to talk to her and was confronted by her and her fat stupid husband and a torrent of the most non-sensical bullshite I had ever heard. The arguement culminated in me explaining that "thanks for this, we're broke, and have no food, and we drove here from auckland and your getting us fired because we arent staying in your camp." Pigwhore/Jo quickly replied with "get off my land, or you can stay here and get your job back, thats how it is mate. It was a misunderstanding" Her husband repeated the sentiment. Only fatter.
"I'll never give you one goddamn more dollar for fuck sake you've screwed us, it was no misunderstanding...generally misunderstandings, when identified, become understandings, at which point the offending party, you, realize their mistake and make repricussions...such as getting us our fucking jobs back."
"Get off my land"
"Eat shit and die demon spawn."
"That's how it is mate, we're the mutherfuckin Friendly campground!"
So! We're off to Kerikeri and the beautiful Bay of Islands! Not that the far north was all bad, I wanna go back some time and camp up near Cape Reinga, northernmost point of NZ, and getting free clams off ninety mile beach was cool. I also recommend Hohoura heads as a quick stop off, nice campground...but something in the way Jo spoke to us gave me an unwelcome feeling, we just didnt like the vibe. Onward ho, wagons south, lets make like bananas and get the hell out of here...etc.
PS every person i meet who has read this and stays at the Pukenui Holiday Park will be slapped by me and the lovely Celina. In the face, in perpetuity.