Where Am I And What Day Is It?

New Zealand FlightWhere do I begin? The trip here was crazy…in a calm bizarre way. It’s hard to explain but one day I’m in Chicago wearing a winter coat and the very next (well a day ahead since I’m in the future) I’m in New Zealand kneeling into dirt and pulling weeds from salad beds in the hot blazing sun.

Tara and I arrived in Hasting, Hawkes Bay at exactly 8:15pm (when we were scheduled to arrive) right on the nose thanks to crazy Bill the bus driver that nearly killed us on the way here. Let’s just say he had a very heavy foot. I learned all kiwis due. For such a relaxed place they drive so fast here. Pretty amazing how our bus hugged the turns through the rolling mountains – I’m sure he’s done that trip a thousand times. The views out my window were absolutely breath taking. Just like the pictures I’d seen online and in the books. Sheep and the color green splattered all over. We were picked up at the bus stop by one of the farmers. Thankfully, it was a quick drive to the farm. We were taken to our “room” (more like a shack) and this is where I went into shock. Picture this…a small room with a mattress up against the wall. No sheets, no lights and a lot of spiders. I put my heavy backpack down on the floor, which was covered in dirt. I felt like I was in the twilight zone but was too tired to fight it as I didn’t even know what day it was. I didn’t think the accommodations were going to be this bad. I had to get over it.

We went into the “common room” where we met our fellow WWOOFers (willing workers on organic farms – that’s what they call us and that’s what I am). Eight others sipping on Tui (a common beer in the north island) turned to us and said “hello” in different accents and languages. This was a happy young bunch and they greeted us with big smiles. German, French, Isreali, Canadian, British and of course a few Americans filled the crowded room. We introduced ourselves and went to bed. I was exhausted from the trip and we were told we had a full day of work the next day. I didn’t have the energy to be social. There's was going to be enough time for that.

I slept like a rock the first night. I felt great the next morning just in time for our first day. The sun was shining and at 8AM we headed out to weed salad beds (this sucked big time – not a fun job). I had decided to pamper myself and got a manicure the day before I left for NZ (clear coat of course). By 8:01AM my hands were covered in dirt. So much for that manicure...what was I thinking?

10AM was tea time (everyone stops for tea time here) then back to work. I got to plant cavolo nero and leeks (black kale) which I love to eat. This was a fun job. They explained how not to disturb the soil when planting, doing so promotes weeds and farmers hate weeds. I can see why. Weeding is one of the worst jobs on the farm. Lunchtime was at noon and lasts for an hour. The kitchen is pumping at this time. Everyone makes their own lunch. Great salad greens and fresh veggies are on the menu daily. We cook all of our meals and can pick anything we want off the farm to eat – this makes me very happy. Back out to work after lunch until 3pm when we stop for another tea time for half an hour then we end the day at 5pm. I was covered with dirt and sweat. I couldn’t wait to take a shower. I don’t know how I made it through the first day. It was so hot and I was tired from traveling. By the end of the day my body was hurting. My legs felt like jello and my back was aching from the constant bending down. I quickly realized that this farming gig is going to be harder then I thought...

One Response to “Where Am I And What Day Is It?”
  1. seng says:

    Crap Monica! I thought I was going to get a notice every time you post something. Now am going to have to do some catching up!!!!!!!! From the photos and excerpts I just scanned, I can't wait to read everything! WOW! Miss you!!! xoxoxox

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