• Cassie Stockamp

Fruit Sellers....

Updated: Feb 24, 2019

I was sitting with my feet dangling out the car to protect me from a stiff breeze and reflecting on my next adventure in saying “yes!”


one water bottle

2 glass jars filled with water

1 plastic container full of leftover rice noodles and veggies for lunch (wait, I think we had that for dinner 2 nights ago - lol!)

1 ukulele

1 Iphone (location pin dropped on goggle maps and directions screen saved)

1 mini IPad

1 charger and cord


So that’s what I brought with me on my first day of fruit selling. The other hostel workers chuckled and wished me well when they saw me heading down to the fruit staging area. I wondered if it was going to be a long day.


At 9am we packed the following into a little red station wagon:

2 crates of avocados

1 crate of sweet corn

1 crate of peaches

1 crate of plums

1 collapsible chair

1 flimsy umbrella

6 large plywood signs

A box of bungee cords (I learned they were used to tie the signs to the light poles)

3 plastic boxes (used as the table base)

1 plywood dog eared table top


I was told to follow Ricardo, the manager from Portugal, and he casually asked if I could drive a stick shift and gave me a simple head nod of approval when I said yes. You can imagine what this car looked like - lol! The gas guage showed an 1/8 of a tank, the speedometer didn’t work and there were a few years of dust accumulated on the dashboard. And we were off!

We weaved through the suburbs of Auckland, and I tried my best to stay close behind him since I didn’t have internet access for google maps. Following someone through roundabouts (let me remind you I’m driving a stick on the left side of the road) during rush hour was a wee bit challenging.

We arrived at my spot which was on the side of the road next to a cemetery in about 15 minute but felt like an hour!! Ricardo showed me my landmark which was house sign “37”. He said the owners were very kind, and I asked if they were kind enough to let me use the bathroom. He said he thought so. Inside my head I was chuckling....


By noon I had made 8 sales, my fingertips were spent from ukulele practice (the callouses haven’t made their way out yet), had eaten an ear of raw sweet corn (yum!), found a secluded place to pee (sorry mum) and had explored the cemetery markers that were keeping me company!


I had asked Ricardo if we had to show a permit and he said not to worry as that is all taken care of annually, or maybe monthly - he couldn't remember, but regardless we were legal. The hostel owner has quite an interesting business. He lives in Argentina and has developed a network of fruit distributors from which he buys fruit that is too ripe for the supermarket, but still quite good.


We volunteers hawk them on the side of the road:

2 bags of stone fruit for $5 (peaches and plums)

7 ears of corn for $5

1 bag of avocados for $5

For three days of fruit selling, the workers get 7 days of room and board plus 4 days off! I found it a rather agreeable exchange, well at least for the 2 days that I sold!

The people coming to buy fruit were Kiwis, immigrants, several retired men, people returning home from work, a woman who’s husband had died 3 years ago and she was going to place flowers on his grave (remember I was sitting next to a cemetery) and a woman who said she was homeless because of something the government did. I asked if she was ok; she just muttered under her breath.


I spent the afternoon guffawing out loud as I read “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson, a book wherein he describes his adventure as a middle aged man taking on the Appalachian Trail. I’m guessing he might find my adventure as a middle aged woman posing as a fruit seller equally as laughable! I was so absorbed in the book that I was surprised a couple of times to look up and see a customer at the table. What a delightful afternoon! I stretched my legs and took a healthy lap around my side of the road, picked up litter and reminded myself to bring a trash bag the next day so I could collect the rubbish I gathered.


I climbed up into a long branch of a gum tree that made a perfect perch and just laid there wondering what it must be like to be a tree... strong, resilient, beautiful. At 16:45 I started walking up the street untying the plywood signs from the light poles, carried them back to the car and began packing everything into the little red station wagon. I sold everything except 2 bags of avocados and 2 bags of stone fruit! Quite a successful first outing methinks.


What an adventure New Zealand has been... I met a Kiwi and have my own abbreviated version of “Eat, Pray, Love”... He has a remarkable story. Remarkable man.The country truly is breathtaking and I found myself feeling like I had traveled back to a simpler time. Or is it that my life is just simpler?


The low battery in the fire detector is beeping over head here at Fat Cat and it triggers a memory from Swamis in Australia. The first night at Swamis the low battery alarm went off waking 5 of us every 10 minutes. For the first two rounds someone stuck a broom in it to shush it in hopes of it going away - LOL! Obviously that didn’t work. In Australia we removed the battery and it never got replaced. In New Zealand we just endured the intermittent sharp beep - truly toooo funny!

“We ask for a long life, but it’s deep life, or grand moments, that signify. Let the measure of time be spiritual not mechanical.“ Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’m leaving bright and early Wednesday for Sri Lanka to volunteer at a coconut plantation where I may learn to milk buffalo. My social experiment continues...



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