New Zealand Notes #1

by Luke Otley

Here a good a place to start as any – face down on arm crooked – the flat belly of a snake strapped to the sheets. Written in longhand – the fingers grumble as they wake like some fairytale monster of an ancient forgotten ode. Custom to the slight tap tap tap tap tap of the keyboard no longer…

10 days! Is that all? I have seen a month, a year’s worth of sights – most days waking cold and strangely wet, fully clothed including wooly hat, purple nose poking out of my trusty bag, blowing hot breath into the crisp spring air of just gone dawn. Sleeping in a van that contains everything I own, all the food (bananas, kiwis, oats, cereals, rice crackers, beans, chopped tomatoes, soup soup soup), my boots, passport, knife, books… A mobile home, if you will, that can be parked legally outside of any 24hr toilets free of charge.

Camping laws seem focused around the excretion of human waste, and why not? It is serious business after all. Don’t be caught perched barefoot on your tow bar, letting everything go into the whipping wind and the bellowing booming blackness of pitch – night – the rippling road…Unable even to see the cats-eyes, 130 km/ph with the engine groaning stoically as it goes about its work, one hand gripping the roof and the other your junk, giving it the old Ric Flair whoop as you try to maintain your footing, knowing that each turn will probably be your last…

I’ve been here 10 days and I’m rapidly running out of cash. I’ve befriended an Argentinean who makes promises of lands-a-plenty where there is no such thing as monopoly and you can run your luck on the stocks for a kiwi or two or perhaps a kilo of grapefruit. I listen fireside with the trusting eyes of a child and nod quietly and solemnly, testimony to his bizarre revelation.