Employment! What a splendor to behold and partake in! Despite the limited (and, in my opinion) disagreeable terms of my visa, I have chanced upon some work that I’ve undertaken for the past 4 weeks, and intend on taking for two weeks more before I must return to Auckland to complete my studies for the year. I now reside in the small town of Blenheim. While it is the largest town in this region of New Zealand, it still pales in comparison to Auckland, having only a population of 30,000, more or less. The town mostly consists of quiet suburbia, lending itself to no particular identity or charm that cannot be found in equal or greater parts in other parts of the country. The region is best known for the myriad vineyards which are dotted throughout the Wairau River Valley. The climate here is perfect for that sort of endeavor; since arriving I have only encountered one day that I could vaguely regard as having foul weather. Every other day has been nothing but sunshine and potential melanoma. While it may not be the most exciting, I still count myself as fortunate for having been able to find work in one of the sunniest places in the country and find a brief respite from the clamor and noise of the city.
Before I arrived here, I was volunteering at lodge based in the Pelorus Sounds, which are based on the far Northern edge of the Southern Island. I was working for this couple named Anne and Rob, doing most any kind of work that they needed done around the lodge. Making beds, cleaning bathrooms; my role had effectively devolved into housekeeping. But, for room and board in one of the most beautiful places on earth, it can be hard for one to reject such an offer. It would seem, now having come into my final bit of employment for the Summer, that the common thread that runs between all of the jobs that I’ve undertaken is that I’ve always been obliged to clean toilets. I am glad to say then that I have become an expert at cleaning toilets, though I don’t imagine that that is something that I’ll add to my CV.
Another activity that I’ve been partaking in regularly since I’ve arrived is hitchhiking around from various location. Hitchhiking is something that I already had experience with in coming to New Zealand; it was something that I needed to use more than once when I worked in Alaska. But that was roughly three years ago, and my tact in getting rides had grown dull from years from being out of practice. Fortunately, New Zealand is one of the easiest countries in the world to hitchhike in, as I never waited more than a half an hour to get a ride, regardless of how remote or awkward of a location I was starting in. One can be good or bad at hitchhiking; it’s all about presentation and being able to make small-talk during the ride. Making conversation in and of itself is a skill, so hitchhiking by extension is much better for some over others. It’s reassuring to see that such acts of kindness that have become rare in other parts of the world are still alive and well here. To try and attempt the same in the contiguous US is something I know I’d never be able to accomplish. I thank all of those that were kind and giving enough to offer a stranger a ride, and I hope that some day in the future I’ll be able to return the favor.
Ultimately, these rides and misadventures brought me to Blenheim for my final adventure of the season. I work as an assistant manager at a hostel here in town. This is the first time that I’ve worked at a hostel, and I’ve been enjoying (most of) the work that has been set before me. Aside from the aforementioned toilet cleaning, the part which I enjoy much more is the administration. The hostel houses about 50 people who come from all over the world, though the main demographics that I have encountered here, as seems to be the trend across most of the world, are the British, French, and Germans, though mainly Germans. They congregate daily in their impromptu bundestags and talk about things which my anglo brain can only vaguely discern from cognates. As is also the trend amongst all the Germans that I’ve met in the world, they all speak English at an immaculate level – better than some native English speakers. You’ll also receive the odd nationality that you wouldn’t expect to encounter: A Swede here, the odd Slovenian there, it makes for a very diverse an interesting group that you get to know very well as you preside over them.
My relationship to them, though sustained and on good terms, is primarily as a vigilant eye and a debt collector: Big Brother, as it were. Nobody denies me when I appear – and I always appear – at that time of the week to collect their dues. I always find some distaste in seemingly having some greater duty that acts as a pretense for me interacting with them. Principally, I am a bridge troll, and though nobody looks kindly upon the lowly troll, it’s existence is a necessary evil.
I am here for a week and half more before I need to return to Auckland. Though I shall be pretty well bound by work for that period of time, I shall enjoy the arid Wither Hills to my South and the verdant Marlborough Sounds to my North as I finish my days in this relatively remote part of the world.
Until I write again,