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April 17, 2006

Fruit Picking

OH MY GOD! Hardest job in the world!

Yes, fruit picking is one of the hardest things I will probaly ever do in my life! We are now going into our fourth week and I really have no idea how we lasted past the 2nd day! For the first week, I have never experienced pain like it - every single part of my body ached intensely - my shoulders, back, legs, arms even my head where some apples fell on me - I'm not joking. One of the other pickers told me the pain would go in the 2nd week and I really didn't believe her but it actually did. Now I just look like a drug addict with track marks all up my arms, where the branches have scratched me - honestly, I'm covered in them.

So, basically, we get paid by how much we pick - which isn't much cos me & Tiago work together and we're pretty crap! We wear bags round our bodys that fit over our heads and when these are full we empty them into large wooden crates called bins - I don't know how big the crates measure but they hold 400kg of apples when full. We get paid $25 per bin plus a $3 bonus per bin if we turn up on time every day and another $3 bonus per bin if we stay until the end of the season, which is this Friday. We work Mon-Fri from 7.30-4pm with half hour lunch, we have the weekends off but have to work if they ask us to (only happened once and only did a half day). We stay in accommodation provided by them which we pay a small rent for - Tiago and I have our own 2 room bach which we pay $40 per week each for. The bach is just a kitchen and a bedroom - it's very basic but it's cheap and all ours. Rafael is in a small caravan next door and we all share an outside shower and toilet block, which only good point is that we have extremely hot water. We don't have a TV so spend all our free time reading, playing chess and cards and drinking red wine! The weather at this end of the South Island is very warm and sunny most of the time, but sometimes it does rain and when it does we can't go to work and so don't get paid but this has only happened twice though I think (however, if we are already at work and it starts raining then thats just tough, it's horrible working in the rain, very miserable). We were only going to stay for 2 weeks but for various reasons we are still here. Apple picking season finishes at the end of this week and then kiwi picking starts straight away - we've been asked if we'd like to stay and do this so we've decided to try it for 1 week. It's supposed to be much easier cos you don't have to use ladders (I have vowed to burn my ladder at the end - I hate it with a passion, it has banged my knees, legs, hands, head etc etc).

We haven't done much whilst we've been here cos most of the time we're too knackered in our free time to do anything but sleep! We have done a day trip to Cape Farewell and Farewell Spit, which is the most northerly point of the North Island. We also visited an awesome baech there, I think it was called Whariki. It has all these huge sand dunes and you can see the wind making patterns in the sand, theres lots of caves, rock pools and little islands that some fur seals live on, though we didn't see any when we were there.

We've also been back to Nelson to see a Capoeira show. Capoeira is the brazilian fighting dance. An american couple give lessons every weekend and they had brought their teacher (the Master) over to hold workshops over Easter. Like Karate, each person has a coloured belt relating to what level they are at. It really is amazing to watch - some of them were very good - doing somersaults in the air and back flips - very impressive. They held a free workshop later on in the park, where anyone could join in. Tiago has never done it before so he gave it a go but due to an earlier accident (see below) I couldn't join in. We stayed the night in Nelson and went to a drums at dusk festival on the beach that night - truly awful. Full of lots of very strange hippy people, banging lots of hand drums to no tune or rhythm. The best part of the night was when the fire brigade arrived and put the fire out!

So, the accident. Well, our supervisor in the Orchard is always on at me to drive but I'm always refusing. But the day before Good Friday, I decided to have a go on the tractor. Was not bad, bit diffcult trying to control the trailor with three bins on it but I didn't really do much, just drove up and down the rows of apples. Just as we were finishing, our boss saw me driving the tractor and said I would be better on his quad bike. So against my better judgement, I agreed to have a shot. He explained that the brake was by my foot and the accelerator was on the handlebar. Off I sped round the orchard, goes quite fast quite quickly really. I come up to a corner where there is a very big ditch full of water so I slow down, pass the corner fine. I'm really enjoying it now and getting my confidence when all of a sudden on a straight road I suddenly veer to the right (where the ditch is), panic, forget where my brake is and accelerate instead thereby landing straight into the ditch, quad and all. I was so scared telling my boss but he really wasn't that bothered, he just couldn't work out how I had ended up in the ditch on a straight road after passing the corner ok! I told him I got confused cos the accelerator is where the brake normally is on a bike - he thought I meant a motorbike which he rides and races a lot and asked how much I rode but I actually meant a pushbike! Anyway, he managed to pull the quad out of the ditch and started fine, thank god. I ended up with a very large gash and bruise on my leg as well not being able to put the weight on my other foot for a day, therefore I couldn't join on with the Capoeira. Don't think I'll be trying out quads again.

Not much else going on just now. We will be here until Friday 29th May then we're going to Kaikoura for the weekend and then to a help exchange for a week near Christchurch. After that, we are postponing the rest of the South Island trip and heading straight to Queenstown. If we don't get there by the end of May and find jobs before the season starts then it will be more difficult as loads of people head there in winter looking for work.

Will update again when I have some more news for you all. Hope everyone well. Lots of love xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Posted by Trish on April 17, 2006 08:03 AM
Category: New Zealand

ah damn those pesky quads!!! very exciting to hear you will be travelling to queenstown- are you going to remember to go and see our lovely old boss Tracey at avanti on the mall. she will hire you and then feed you lots of tequilla a hoot!!! see if she remembers us! duncan tooo is in pain at the moment he went running tonight with his fifty odd year old mother and she outran him leaving him panting and with a stitch for ages!!! have been working today but was quite good as it was sooo dead in the pub that we made mojitos and sat on te roof in the sun with them while being paid! it was fab. summer is starting to hint at arriving so am looking forward to a wee bit sun. love you and miss you lots take care poppet
e and d

Posted by: elaine and dunc on April 23, 2006 11:11 PM
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