MtNgaurahoeToday started out with promise. I was well rested, I’d done what I could to let go of the outrages of the day before, and breakfast featured protein—which is a rare occurrence on this trip.

We went back to the alpine village that had freaked everyone out the day before so they could see it under lovely clear blue skies. Of course, they still didn’t want to hike because now no one was prepared for a hike, being instead prepared for a drive to the next stop. We climbed a short trail to a great lookout over the whole amazing brand new (relatively) volcanic landscape, all visible without its winter snow, and still there were complaints. But I was letting them go. I know a lot of this had to do with a change out of seating, as one of the primary whiners moved from my car to another, but it was also due to a concerted effort on my part to separate the passing annoyances from the trip as whole, which is an experience that will be shaped in my memory by my attitude. A good friend reminded me that I can do that.

The lava flows were so new that the edges on the rocks were all still sharp, there were almost no lichens, mosses, or ferns, and the soils were very poorly sorted. Geologically, it was very exciting.

Then, after the volcanic walk, I got in the car and clicked my camera’s on/off button to look at the pictures I’d just taken, and… nothing. There were brand new batteries in there. Click. Click. Click. Nothing. I put in new batteries. No response at all.

It is completely dead. So now not only am I out a whole camera, but also the $20 worth of new and spare batteries I’d just bought yesterday.

I was able to get the latest photos (thank you SD card), but it is now totally bricked. Okay. That is enough of a bummer to break my broke ass heart. I will be able to use my iPhone for the last few days here, but I now have no real camera. Last time I checked on Amazon, these things were not free. Fuck. Right?

Then, we get to Whangomomona (a very small and eccentric town of sheep farmers and the hotel/pub that supports them) and are informed that dinner will be “on our own” after one of the TAs told us earlier that we’d have dinner as a group. I’m nearly out of money and there is no seated meal in this country for less than $25. A cup of coffee is $4.50. A side of potato wedges is $11. Someone had to give me cash to cover food. And we never know what is going to happen on this trip until right before it does, so I have no idea how many more meals I have to buy between now and home—except that breakfast in the morning is provided by the hotel.

I haven’t cried in NZ—not once—and I am very proud of that. I haven’t let all of the little frustrations build up yet. But goddamn it. A $17 hamburger without fries and a $6 beer. And a broken fucking camera. And still these motherfucking assholes won’t shut up with the accents and the whining and the privilege and the attitudes. I have a lump in my throat and my eyes sting, AND I AM PISSED ABOUT THAT, TOO. If I still need to cry when I get in the shower tonight, I will let myself do so.

It would appear that my patience, fully stretched, has a 2 week shelf life.

Day 14 photo set.

Something something something about the really cool sheep-made terraces on the impossibly steep hillsides and also, I helped shear a sheep.

I sheared a sheep! That should have totally been today’s highlight. I held her little neck between my knees and used an electric trimmer to finish her back and one leg after the rancher had done all the tough bits. My hands shook like crazy; I was so afraid of nicking her. She didn’t cry, either, and only kicked once—but I held on to her tight. She was sun-warm and compliant, if not exactly calm. He showed me how to press on her hip joint to keep her leg straight without hurting her. I pressed the razor into her fat and watched the wool come away in a fluffy, dirty mat. And when I was done, I let her go and she scrambled up and out into the paddock. I can still smell her lanolin on my clothes.