It is said that there are only six degrees of separation between any two people on earth. Well, in New Zealand there are only two. It’s a small country. In fact, there is even a mobile phone company that calls itself 2 Degrees. A very clever name, connecting its customers to their friends of friends. As Peter and I are getting to know the place better, we are experiencing this for ourselves.
I wwoofed at a small family farm in rural Foxton where I baked bread, weeded around fruit trees and took care of the chooks (chickens). On my first morning, the father of the family discovered that he had caught a possum in one of his traps and excitedly asked me if I would like to watch him skin it. Due to the surprise and shock of his offer and the fact that I was eating my breakfast, I declined politely but it would have been an experience to blog about. At least I can say that I’m two degrees away from seeing a possum skinned…
The mom of the family was a homeopathic healer and the kids were home-schooled until high school. One evening, the mother and 8 year old son were in the car on their way home from Taranaki when their car overheated. Night had fallen and they had no cell phone, so they knocked on a friendly looking door and an older Kiwi couple invited them in and let them use the phone. They called the oldest son (dad was working) and luckily I was there with a driver’s license so we drove one and a half hours to pick them up. Upon arrival the nice lady who had taken them in was excited to tell me that her daughter was now living in Minnesota! So I suppose mom+kiwi lady+daughter= 3 degrees from me.
When later in the week we chatted about where I had been and where I was going, I discovered that they were “mates” with one of my next wwoof-hosts the owner of a fruit winery in a neighboring town. They gave me the low-down and general approval. I was two degrees closer to an Organic Celtic Winery.
On our next weekend excursion, Peter and I took a trip to New Plymouth to visit a friend of his from high school. Peter + MK connections = 2 degrees from anywhere in the world! (with the help of Facebook). We were returning the camper van that they had so generously lent us when our car had died (long, complicated car story will be told eventually… still a little painful to talk about). Phil and Rachel made us home-cooked dinners and took us surfing, showing us a wonderful time in “The Naki” the nickname for the Taranaki region. Although it was two cloudy to see Mt. Taranaki, I could feel its presence and would say it felt like it was about two degrees away from me.
My next wwoof was on a large organic dairy farm in a small town called Piopio, the onomatopoetic name of an extinct bird. There will be more to come about this farm experience, but let’s just say for now that I was 2 degrees closer to where my cheese, milk and ice cream were coming from.
We had known for awhile that Atmosphere (famous MN hip-hop group) would be touring down under, but didn’t think we could make it since Peter had job training and I was woofing in the “wop-wops” but Peter got tickets and we drove 2 hours to Auckland to see some homegrown Minneapolis music. They put on an awesome show, had a sizable and vibrant crowd of Aucklanders and reminded us of just how special Minneapolis is. New Zealand is located at 41 degrees latitude and Minnesota at 46 degrees. Only “a couple” of degrees difference between them!
When Peter returned to work, another social worker was introduced to him and he immediately made the 2 degree connection back to my wwoof host Carla, an acquaintence of his and said to Peter “your missus made that beautiful mosaic letterbox”. Yes, it’s a small country. Maybe even as small as Minnesota.
An Atmosphere song about relationships: