Wednesday, September 23, 2009
You say to-may-toe, I say to-mah-toe
By the 16th, after a month of vacation, we were anxious to finally have a place to call home. And, believe it or not, we were ready to work! That morning, our new boss, Helen, picked us up from our hostel and took us about 10 km outside of town to our new home at Canterbury Tomatoes Ltd. Helen and her fiance, Kerry, live on the small farm next to the greenhouse. Upon our arrival, Helen showed us around the tomato plants and introduced us to the family of cows and sheep. We also met Lucy (from the US) and Neall (from England) who live and work with Helen & Kerry, like us.
We started work that afternoon trimming leaves from the bottom of the tomato plants. Each row takes about an hour and a half and there are 15 rows in all. We can choose how many or how few rows we do each day but they all have to be done once a week. We also pick tomatoes 2-3 times a week which can take 2-4 hours. We have to work 20 hours a week (combined! Ha!) and any hour over that we get paid NZ$13/hr (about US$9.40).
Our first weekend on the farm we got to know our new roommates a little better. Friday night we all went out for dinner and then checked out Timaru's nightlife. Helen explained to us that most of the young people from Timaru have moved to other cities for college, so the crowd at the bars was kind of interesting. We had fun anyway. Saturday morning we went snowboarding with Lucy at Mt. Dobson, just an hour and a half away. If our hangovers hadn't already set in, the drive up the mountain certainly did it. It was unlike anything either of us had ever experienced. The gravel road was unbelievably narrow and winded all the way above the clouds. More frighteningly, New Zealand has apparently never heard of guard rails.
But, alas, we made it safely. As spring is approaching, it was one of the last days of the seasons and it was bright and sunny. It was really beautiful. It was Cody's first time snowboarding and he picked it up right away. Jeni on the other hand... Lets just say we were both pretty sore the next day...and the day after that...and the day...
For now we're spending our days working in the greenhouse, getting to know our roommates, and looking for a new car. While we aren't exactly stranded here (we can usually catch rides to the grocery store, library, etc. with our roommates) we were hoping to see as much of this part of the country as we can while we're here. So we're hoping to get a new car so we can take some day trips to nearby cities, parks, etc. We'll keep you updated on our progress but for now you can find us picking tomatoes...or feeding them to the sheep.