G'day Fellow Fish-
This is Ariel writing. Jeff is packing his massive 80 liter bag- when he puts it on, he looks like a snail wearing his dad's shell and Matt is washing the dishes. We have to make our motelpartment look like it did when we first got here. In other words, not a frat house. We packed up our crates of bottles that we used to brew our own beer, and our packs are packed once again. Vome is waiting patiently outside anxiously awaiting the open road again.
We ended up working out a schedule where we worked for 5 and a half hours a day- weeding, cutting down non native plants and burning them, staining a deck, cleaning rooms, dishwashing, prepping, cooking, serving- for 2 days off a week and food and accommodation. Also, there was a paid shift every night. Although we had days off, we did not miss a paid shift. We weren't really doing organic farming at all or even dealing with and farming New Zealand crops. The closest we got was cutting down a really spikey plant that the Scottish brought to New Zealand to make natural fences. This stuff is EVERYwhere, and it's cool that it had such a purpose. We settled into our routine quite well, waking up at 10am, and by noon, we were sitting on the deck or looking out of the kitchen door over the Marlborough sounds and up at the different dimensions of mountains. It's pretty miraculous when you think about it. The landscape is breathtaking.
It wasn't long before we realized that our boss was a very passive aggressive and paranoid lady. We heard multiple times through the grapevine to do this or that, or that "Kelly was told to tell you to be here at ____ o'clock", or something like that. She wanted more structure out of us, and we are just living a carefree life. The weird part is, we take it easy, but we're no slackers. We do our jobs and we do it well. The staff at the restaurant and the chefs loved us, thanked us, relied on us, depended on us for our good work. But, like most restaurants, everybody slowly grew bitter and you could feel the souls start to die. Overworking at a restaurant is a breeding ground for resentment and where dreams go to die. We'd show up to work, and the nicer it was outside, the worse the mood would be because of us being trapped. No one had anything nice to say about the bosses and owners, two people quit, the chef ALSO quit to work in one of three other restaurants in town. It was fun though, needless to say, with the three of us. We ate all the cookies we wanted, drank espresso when we were bored, made ourselves little snacks, took molds of our faces in the pizza dough when no one was looking and had a lot, a lot of laughs. Some of the best times were when we would get absolutely swamped and you reach that point where a kitchen just clicks. Someone is calling out orders every minute- as an empty dish is being taken out to be plated, a freshly washed one replaces it, someone's rolling pizzas, someone's on the fryer, someone's on sautee. And then after an hour and a half that seems like twenty minutes, you all realize that you pulled together and bested the holiday lunch rush at a restaurant in the heart of Marlborough- a world famous wine region and the green mussel capital of the world.
So, if you think about it- for the WWOOF hours, 5.5, and a paid shift- 4-5 hours. We all ended up working anywhere from 45-60 hours a week. On our down time, which was minimal, we ate lots of candy, did quality control testing on our beer, and marathoned through movies and TV shows- mainly glee, which is among our top shows ever. Matt and I are sending in audition tapes. I would love nothing more than to tell you all the we have to put this trip on hold to fly to LA for The Glee Project to see if we become the next member. Imagine...
We grew pretty tired of Havelock. In either direction, the nearest towns were an hour and a half hour a way, there were no people to meet here, and not much to do. But again, this is what we wanted. People say that old cliche that "the people make a place, not the place itself". And it's completely true. We've all been wanting to discover and explore New Zealand for some time now, and we just feel like we haven't even scratched the surface. We're ready to move on, already looking forward to Australia, but there is so much here left to do. We've only been involved with greedy, bitter people and thankfully we have each other to come back to to stay happy and light hearted. Our time in New Zealand is circumstantial- we could be working in a restaurant in New Jersey, living together- we could be home saving money and just bullshitting like so many people our age, but why not live our journey WHILE we create it? We are working to make money as we go to sustain ourselves, with the ultimate goal being that we will have enough to at least get through Asia to Europe after we leave Australia. Our time here isn't ideal, and it isn't all cupcakes and sprinkles. But- we know we are on a mission and we know we have bigger plans than just the immediate. We keep our eyes on the prize, baby.
Needless to say, one day while Matt and I were working on the property that the owner's are looking to rent, Jeff came back from working at the restaurant to tell us that we were fired. Hahahaha! Can you believe that? Fired. I was actually really guilty and upset...I felt like an asshole and a taker. But Matt and Jeff couldn't stop laughing. When I thought about it, it's pretty meaningless. This job means nothing to us. Yes it's a woman's livelihood, but she is in far from dire circumstances and we've done more than beneficial and fair work for her. Also, it's the first time any of us have been given the boot. The word going around the restaurant was, "The Americans have been sacked." Most people told us how lucky we were. We still haven't gotten a concrete reason, but what she did say was that we were a bit too laid back for her liking. We were late here and there, a bit messy- carefree, loose, and flexible. It's funny, because she has been used to Asian girls working- no, really- the past 5 WWOOFers were Asian girls. This isn't racist! Matt has said so himself- the Asian work ethic is just unbelievable. We did not live up to that.
Living here for the week after we were fired was sufficiently awkward, but par for our traveling course. We are wondering if we are doomed to work for asshole bosses, or if we have to hate a place before we can leave it. (The restaurant, not the country). Another good thing, though, is that we just have this feeling that says, "it's okay to go." You don't want to stay for fear of missing something, because you just feel so content with your time in a place. You know it's time to move on. It was that way with Hawaii, and it's that way now. We have a fat paycheck coming, and the rest of the country and NOT having commitments or schedules is calling our names. We're rolling stones, and it's time to let it go again.
Really quickly, our chef took us out on his boat in the Marlborough sounds one day. We just cruised, with towering mountains, beef farms, logging posts, mussel farms on either side. Imagine a huge snaking valley, but in the valley was the water. Oh, of course we all got to drive it. The boat. Fast. 40 knots. Incredible.
When we leave today, we'll go to a hip town about an hour away, return the beer bottles we borrowed to our neighbor, Ken, and head southbound on the West coast to Queenstown. Bungy jumping (I'm not so sure if I'LL do that) snow caps, young people, more mountainous landscapes and new adventures await. There, we'll finalize the process of selling our van (tear). Will we sell it in Auckland and drive back, or sell it on the south island and fly back. Also, we might move our flight to Australia closer to today.
That's really it for now. We're eager, safe, happy, sufficiently out of shape, and ready for the next phase. Hopefully in Australia, it will be like Waikiki 2.0. We have a friend who already has jobs lined up for us in Sydney, paying cash in hand. Oh, what'd you ask? Yeah, minimum wage is $26 an hour. We are hoping, for at least the first few months, to share an apartment and have nice lives. Jobs, gym memberships, take some acting/dance classes, maybe be in a play, have a nighlife/social life.
Things are looking good, and only getting better.
We really love you guys, and it feels nice to be able to tell someone about our journey.
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