The next day we left the fish cemetary earlier and headed down the coast towards the next stop, Rangitukia. The East Cape is truly beautiful, especially if you have the time to explore, stay a while and relax. The kiwi experience if more of a cross between that and a Japanese sightseeing tour.... get out, take a photo, get on, drive... then spend hours in some remote location relaxing (or battling cockroaches - will get to that a bit later on.
We passed some idyllic but sad places, such as the tiny church situated on a bay where 3 prominent rugby players were buried. They were brothers and died in a car crash on a local highway on the way to their mother's birthday party. Very sad story which made the place seem surreal. And the tiny but PACKED convenience store that is the local supermarket at another town made up of about 6 houses (the store was sad because it charged me $4 for a bottle of water...).
FINALLY we arrived at the Eastender Farm Stay - basically a collection of wooden outhouses that housed dorms, toilet, shower, large room with kitchenette. Very basic, but somehow charming (for one night, everything is charming!). They had free-range pigs, dogs, horses, cows, sheep, goats. One male goat seemed to really take a liking to me and started "polishing" his horns on my legs. Each time I tried to leave, the thing would chase me down and commence polishing once more. I'm not normally scared around animals, but he had large pointy horns and they obviously needed to be polished to perfection, so I just let him get on with it.
So my first today was.... HORSE RIDING & BONE CARVING. Yup, never having ridden a horse before, and not had the urge previously to make jewelry out of dead cow's legs, I decided that I'd better do two firsts today and cover my bases for the coming days.
I got a lovely horse called Shady - a name open to different interpretations. She (mostly) did what I asked her to do, and most importantly, I didn't fall off! We had a great understanding, she would stop to graze when she was hungry, stop to drink when she was thirsty, and then trot to catch up with the others knowing I would expertly cling onto her mane shouting WHOAAAAOAOOAOAOAAA with little effect.
When we returned after a 2 hour trek, and I was once again able to walk normally, I headed off to the "shed" to do bone-carving. I had to wait my turn as only 3 people could carve at once and the other people on the trip seemed OBSESSED with every little detail. Some took 4 hours to complete their little pendant. By the time I was allowed to start, 10pm, the place was eerily dark except for inside the shed and most of the others had gone to bed. I finally finished around 11:30pm being told I must be a natural (yes, persuader - had the expert finish it off and polish it for me while I played ping pong with cockroaches). Two girls stayed upto keep me company and we spent another few hours headbanging to very loud rock music in a shed in the middle of nowhere. LUCKILY, I brought my mobile phone so we had a torch to light the way back to the dorm accross the farm yard. Another plus point - we didn't have to spend too long in the uncomfortable beds when we got in around 2am because there was a hike planned to the summit of the surrounding hills to catch the sunrise at 5am. Who needs sleep!