Sunday, November 1, 2009

Te amo Te anau

Time to start new jobs! After about two months of traveling, we were ready to settle down a little and get some money back in our pockets. We had our first meeting with our German bosses who own the two businesses where we will be working. That night Jen worked at the café and Cody worked at the steak house. We were excited to work and make some new friends! However, at both businesses, we came to realize that every coworker is a native German speaker. So, like our German bosses, we realized that the whole time in Te Anau (possibly until the end of March) we are going to be dealing with language barriers. We've slowly been adjusting to the blank stares after using American slang or expressions. It all has been a learning experience.

Our direct boss is Maria (the wife of the German couple) and is always there to hover over our shoulders, pouncing on our mistakes with a barrage of broken English. When learning how to make pizzas on his busy second day in the café, Cody made a pizza with too much crust. Fortunately, Maria was over his shoulder ready to pounce. “Cody! You push toppings to corners!” Cody couldn’t help but respond by laughing and telling Maria that there are no corners on a circle.
Despite Cody’s pizza-making mistakes, it seems that the German couple are not shy about handing out responsibilities with their business. On Jen’s third day of work with only one day of training, (she was trained by someone who had been at the café for only four days) Jen was given the responsibility of opening the café on her own. Not a problem, right? I mean neither of us knew how to log on to the computer system, start the pizza oven, or even how to make half the things on the menu. After an odd morning rush, a manager that doesn’t pick up phone calls, and a few burnt pizzas, we made it out alive, but not without giving Maria a small piece of our minds.

Te Anau is a small town whose economy primarily survives on tourism. Some estimates say the town starts off with a population of 1,000 but mushrooms to 15,000 during the busy summer season because of the nearby attractions. The small town is almost completely surrounded by the mountains of the Fiordland National Park and attracts people from all over the world. Some of Te Anau’s tourism businesses include small plane rides over Lake Te Anau and through some of the National Park, sail boating across Lake Te Anau, and is the entrance to the Kepler Track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks.

We have done some reading about the Great Walks of New Zealand, but we wanted to get some more information about this Kepler Track before we did anything crazy. We found out that it is a 60 Km (37.3 miles) hiking trail that followed some of the shore of Lake Te Anau before diving right into the fiordland and coming full circle to the entrance point. This entrance point was about an hour and fifteen minute walk from our house. Obviously, this Great Walk is not supposed to accomplished in one day, so you are required to register for the checkpoint huts along the path (there are only 4 or 5 such hut locations). The huts are placed between 2 to 6 hour walking distances apart and only include the essentials: running water, shelter, and a bed. However, if you are hardcore enough, you could simply use the two free campsites along the track. Cody soon found out that part of the Kepler Track was host to one of the many filming locations for the Lord of the Rings movies. Also, the filming site is only an hour walk into the track. This was more than enough information for him to act like a 3 year old wanting to go to Disneyland. So, we made a day trip to hike up some of the path and back.

We soon found out why it is considered one of the Great Walks. Not only was the track incredibly beautiful, but also physically demanding. When discussing plans about walking the whole Kepler Track, Cody was quick to say that a 4-hour hike in between the hut locations shouldn’t be bad at all. Carrying just a light bag, Cody couldn’t wait to flop on the couch after the 4-hour walk. We only were on the flat portion of the track and he was already whining! Turns out, we are going to need to prepare for this adventure when we plan on doing the whole thing.

So now that we have somewhat settled down in one place, we couldn’t help but visit the info center and come home with a handful of pamphlets to map out our future adventures. One adventure we have on our horizon is on November 28th we are going to run a 10k! We have been spending our afternoons for the past 6 weeks training and are going to sign up sometime this week for a 10k race in Queenstown (a popular town that is only a two hour drive away). We are very grateful that we have each other to train for this (running is neither of our strong points) because we have been pushing each other and making sure we get out and run. But for those tough days, sometimes the only thing that is getting us through the workout is the promise of beer and chocolate once we’re finished.