Collin is playing solitaire in the dining room of a hostel in Greymouth. He’s is in town because of a painting job. Usually he lives in the bush in order to find gold. But searching for gold is hard work, it’s easier to paint houses. Living in a building still feels a bit foreign to him tough. In the bush he makes his own settlement for a couple of weeks. He sets up a big tarp, pitches his tent in the corner, makes a fire place and digs a deep hole for his deposits. He likes to be comfortable so he makes a chair from branches he binds together. Sometimes he even brings out a toilet seat and also builds a construction for that. Storms and rains are very common in the region. The sounds of the wind and the rain in the night can make you feel like you’re on a battle field, he says. Therefore he checks the surrounding trees thoroughly before he sets up his camp: “You don’t sleep well if you think a tree can fall on you.” The bush makes sure you live slowly. You can’t go too fast otherwise it becomes dangerous and you can trip over. At the crack of dawn he gets up, takes his gold digging stuff and sets to work. There’s enough to find.
Last week he received a present and father day’s card from his daughter. It was the first time he ever received a father’s day card. His daughter is 34 but he lost her when she was six. He and her mother were fighting over custody when they split up. He had lost hope he would ever find her again. He searched together with friends. It didn’t help. They couldn’t track her down. But last year he met a man who worked in a hospice. They talked about his daugther and the man asked for her details. Since a lot of people in a hospice want to get back in touch with people, he developed the skills to find persons. Collin wrote all he could remember of his daughter on a note and gave it to the man. He found her in living in Australia. They haven’t seen each other yet, but contact has been restored. She still loves me and remembers me, after all these years. He says with wet eyes. “All the time I was looking for gold, but the real gold I wanted to find was my daughter.”