Travel.P#25 – Blenheim hell and heaven


Honor the hands that harvest your crops.

Dolores Huerta

After my, what I thought, last day on Odin, I went to a hitchhike spot in Nelson, from where I got a lift from another sailboat owner. They both took me to their yacht, a beautiful old yacht in splendid condition, not to compare with our boat, haha. After some tea and cookies on the boat I got a lift out of the mussel capital Havelock by a priest, all the way to Blenheim. I really appreciate those guys that take the time to bring you to a town and show you around, what is there to see and what is there to do and than drop you off. He was one of those guys and dropped me off in front of the hostel where I spend my next three weeks.

HOSTEL LIFE

The hostel was ugly and small. The kitchen the same as the living room. I paid 120$ per week, which is not too bad. After two days, I was able to start my new job, with a really shit company.

hostel dinner together

My job was cutting moldy grapes in the vineyards of Blenheim. 2018 was a bad year for the wine from this region due to to much rain in February that glued the grapes together, following they became moldy. After three days work, and even on the last day we were told we have at least work for two more weeks, we all took a picture together having a good time and after that good fired. All of us. Around 35 people, being told to have safe work for the next 2 weeks. Well welcome to picking. It simply sucks. The companies I worked in get paid by bigger companies and different vineyards. All I was was a cheap worker, that does the shit work, get pushed with pressure to work faster and get told to loose my job if I am to slow. Like everyone else did.

hostel escalation

The nice thing about it was that pretty much everyone in the hostel worked in the vineyards. That meant we could share our troubles and laugh about it together. Parties and drinks nearly on a daily to escape the horror from work. The hostel was packed with Germans and french. A Canadian and a few Britain. We all became a fun community to life in. With fridges that were painted and rewritten every day with stupid stuff, hanging out in sunshades and sitting drunk on the roof, while watching the stars. I also started making bread on a regular, that I later stopped cause of healthy food issues.

Konrad waiting for his blessing
proud pruner
outfit to be out fit, cold mornings and hot days

After that I had to find a new job, that I started two days later. This company was actually quite cool and hold us as long as they could. Our supervisors were fun and I had nothing to to with grapes, only maintenance of the vineyards. Hammering, from 8 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon. Blisters on blisters on blisters. But it wasn’t bad. I had fun. I was quite alone, listening to podcast and learning about health and nutrition while I was getting paid, under the sun, with work that was actually quite satisfying. Sounds weird but thanks to my crazy coworkers especially Nathan, an English guy, who was simply great. He made the job look like we were the chosen ones, a small group of Thors hammering the fence lines into position, sometimes with one single hit and no miss. The rest of the 40 workers had to do different maintenance, that was harder and more exhausting like I found. In general we were around 35 backpackers and 5 supervisors. Our supervisor was a legend in himself, sometimes sleeping 50 minutes longer through the break, while we got paid sitting quietly in the car or sleeping as well.

fancy home for a few weeks

he nice thing about it was that pretty much everyone in the hostel worked in the vineyards. That meant we could share our troubles and laugh about it together. Parties and drinks nearly on a daily to escape the horror from work. The hostel was packed with Germans and french. A Canadian and a few Britain. We all became a fun community to life in. With fridges that were painted and rewritten every day with stupid stuff, hanging out in sunshades and sitting drunk on the roof, while watching the stars. After that I had to find a new job, that I started two days later. This company was actually quite cool and hold us as long as they could.

Our supervisors were fun and I had nothing to to with grapes, only maintenance of the vineyards. Hammering, from 8 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon. Blisters on blisters on blisters. But it wasn’t bad. I had fun. I was quite alone, listening to podcast and learning about health and nutrition while I was getting paid, under the sun, with work that was actually quite satisfying. Sounds weird but thanks to my crazy coworkers especially Nathan, an English guy, who was simply great. He made the job look like we were the chosen ones, a small group of Thors hammering the fence lines into position, sometimes with one single hit and no miss. The rest of the 40 workers had to do different maintenance, that was harder and more exhausting like I found. In general we were around 35 backpackers and 5 supervisors. Our supervisor was a legend in himself, sometimes sleeping 50 minutes longer through the break, while we got paid sitting quietly in the car or sleeping as well.

oii, Marie is back

Ahh, that was a great time, a lots of fun. I was happy I got a good company. But even this company was out of work soon and I had to find another new company. The season was over, but Konrad, a good friend of mine that I met in the hostler and me found a new job, and a new home after the hostel got shut, and is only available for season workers from the Islands. We were all really sad about it, especially about the woman that watched the hostel, because she was like a mum for all of us, Elise. On our last day we had a big dinner all together and got drunk. After it was shut we met Helen, a woman in her 50s from the art circle of Blenheim, that took us in her cozy home for just 100 $ per week. Good for her and good for us. We drew a lot in her garage and learned a bit about art. I signed in for the gym, and next to my better and better getting nutrition, through the podcast and researches, I was able to swim and train in the gym after work. That was exhausting, because vineyard work is quite physical, but a good train and a bit of a swim is a feeling I didn’t want to miss.

I also got a bike, to move in town, and got a car not on purpose for 650$ because friends couldn’t get rid of it. In general work was nice, our supervisor Allan with a gang tattoo on his forehead, mostly covered by his bandanna and his son, who was great, were supervising us with his wife. The first day, our boss told us to always read contracts good especially here in the vineyard region. That gave me the impression that we are working for a good company. But even those guy fired me. I had no problem with that if I wouldn’t miss one single week, or just a day work in a week more, to extend my visa. Well I rad my contract and saw that I have 5 days safety do be fired. I called the boss and told him that, but he just said it is wrong and not my right, and after I explained him what was written in his contract he simply said there is no more work available. Alright, no more work but at the same time I got fired they got 5 new workers. Well whatever. That is part of the picking life.

gym in Blenheim

In the end I found a great company, where I even spend two weeks and made a lots of money. On my last two jobs I got paid per piece, so not on contract, which was good for me. But I was never able to make as much money as in the Blueberry picking in Hastings with Ced. Oh yeah, I met up with Ced, that was cool.

efficiency

And I had to go for a weeekend to Nelson to move the boat. I had to find a cheaper buoy and convince Merv to not sell it for 2000$ to a company. So yeah here we go. I paid Merv 600 $ to buy him out of the boat quartet and asked through the harbors and everywhere where I could find boats. In the I managed to get a buoy for 250$ for 6 month. Around 10 times cheaper than the first one. I have to agree with Tim Ferris idea of the Parkinson’s Law that deadlines force you into action. It worked for me.

I swam my first 500 meters through a gentle stream to reach the boat on its mouring spot just to realize the keys were with Merv. Cold I squeezed myself through the back of the boat and found a towel and dry clothes inside. Next to bags full of rubbish. Well thanks for cleaning up. I was very fortunate that another guy on a boat was working on it next to me – with a motorized dinghy! After I shouted over to him, he gave me a lift back and his phone number, so he can pick me up in the morning to go out to the boat again. Well, since out dinghy got stolen I “lend”, I left a message and my phone number, a dinghy, that was motorized and drove to the boat. First time on a dinghy alike. It took me a while to figure out how it worked. But once working it was fabulous. It took me two turns to get rid of all the stuff from the boat and I threw most of it straight into the bins. All the bullshit that stacked up over the time. After that I headed to town to pick up the key of Merv. From there I drove to a nice calm spot and spent the night there. Next morning the nice guy next to our boat picked me up. I told him of my plan to reach the new buoy and he said I am completely crazy and that it is way to dangerous, because the area is super low and I don’t have sea maps nor had a look at low tide where the 20 meter channel is.

Well anyway, I left. The engine started and I was going on Odin. I felt proud to leave the harbor alone on the boat. After asking for permission and safety to leave I left the harbor. Man I was so happy to move the boat all on my own, because I can, yep I simply can. I can fucking sail a boat now. …. Until I hit the sand. The deep sounder moved from 4 meters slowly to 2 meters until the boat was stucked! Oh shit. What now?! Full power backwards and after spinning on the same spot for a bit I managed to get back, after a second try, that I failed again, I called the owner of the buoy to give me better instructions to reach the buoy. All I had to do was move the boat closer to the sand bank further out in the bay. Seems confusing but it worked. Close to the sandbank the channel was around 5 meters deep and I was relieved I stopped seeing the ground. I also was lucky that the tide was still raising a little bit so I could leave the flat area towards the deeper one. From there I managed to pass the buoy. Yep pass, after another call and buoy instructions I made it. Past a few close rocks, but all in one. Good for me that the buoy was visible, because if I would have been a little bit later it would be covered by water. After attaching to the buy (ALL BY MY OWN!) I cleaned the rest of the boat hid the keys and left the boat once and for all. After that I swam to the beach, again lucky that 2 kids passed the boat on canoes that carried some stuff safe to the beach for me. After an ice-cold swim and the sun gone I walked along the beach until I was past the airport and hit a road. (Took me around 45 minutes). The walk was beautiful and peaceful. Merv picked me up and invited me for dinner at his hostel where we spoke of our travels. Merv was doing great. Later when I left I met a girl, who is writing children text books. I mention her because she gave me socks that her mum made her. The were the most comfortable socks I ever had. Thank you random girl. Oh yeah she gave them to me, because it was cold and I was barefoot as usual. Than later on I drove home, all the way to Blenheim, where I slept in a side road, I went to bed around 2 a.m.

Proud last day on Odin. Once and for all.

All Bread and Butter for me.

Oh and Marie came to visit me. Her car broke down though so I pulled it 45km into Blenheim. Haha, the rope snapped 3 times until it was to short to make another knot. She was literally half a meter behind me. From there we drove in my car into town, to a mechanic that lend us a proper rope. We actually managed to crash only ones. From there I pulled her into town and she got her car repaired, while I got her a job in the vineyards. Haha, she absolutely hated it. She also stayed with us for a week. Sadly her car broke down and she had to pay a fair bit, so that she couldn’t do her road trip in the North Island. She also released my tension and frustration from working in the vineyards through laughing heaps. Konrad and me showed her dumpster-diving. We mostly got all our food from the bins in Blenheim, diving once or twice a week was enough. After Marie left we met another girl from South America. She was great as well and joined us in the pool sometimes. She took over my bed when I left, and was happy to stay for a bid with Konrad and Helen.

breakdown service OG Phil on his way to save Marie from the wild

Helen was shocked that I left the house. She became weird the last two weeks. Kind of greedy. Maybe because we were around everyday, but I mean it was our home and we paid for it, haha. So my last two days were spent in my car, with zero rent.

My supervisor was sad I left, we had a bit fun at work and he liked me. But yeah, FINALLY DONE after 2 and a half month of picking I drove to Kaikoura, picked up Max, who was hitching to Christchurch to visit the dad of a friend, that had an accident with a bike. Max was living with me in the hostel before, it was quite crazy I picked him up at that time. After showing him around in Kaikoura and going for a freezing swim with a crazy woman, who is a teacher over there, from the Islands. After that she invited us for a hot chocolate and said that we are welcome at her place anytime. Great person. After hanging out in Christchurch, I dropped Max of at his hostel and I slept in the car. It was great we had a bit of time together. He is nice.

From there I made my way south, but more to that the next time. Driving along the beautiful lakes again and meeting up with Lorna. Wow, that day was very special and just awesome for me. I will tell you about my new home for the next months and my beginning life in Wanaka. A beautiful town at a lake.

Did you know that Alcohol is disrupting our NREM sleep, our recovery and learning sleep. So when you try to learn an instrument, language or just reading a book before bed, don’t have alcohol. Otherwise you wont work on it in your sleep.

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