HIYA!!!! I know it’s been a while, but I honestly don’t know what happened to June, July and August…How is it September already please?! Anyway, I’m very content with life right now and I guess one of the main reasons as to why I haven’t wrote a blog post yet, is because I’ve been having too much of a bloody good time! Well that and the fact that hostels and farms, for me, really aren’t suitable places to write in…
So, as I explained in my previous post, I was leaving my ‘normal’ life in Perth to go to Darwin. Myself and Stoykes came up here to find regional work for our second year visa and ended up on a chilli farm just a 45 minute drive from the city. We were feeling pretty thankful considering a lot of people literally have to go to the arse end of nowhere to complete theirs. Anyway, on our way there I was feeling a little giddy, excited and nervous at the same time. Then we arrived at the farm and OH MY GOD. I actually cried. How embarrassing.
Our new room was nothing less than an old pokey tin container with 6 bunk beds squeezed into it and no exaggeration, around 30 spiders and their disgusting webs EVERYWHERE! Not the typical distressingly large Aussie spiders you’re probably thinking of (thank furrrkkk,) but the creepy daddy long legged type; small body and super long legs! This kind wouldn’t normally bother me that much but the sheer volume of them in such a confined space had me in tears (what a puff)! How was I supposed to sleep in here?! I was the kind of girl who totally skitzed at the sight of a single spider and had to lock herself in the bathroom for 10 minutes while her dad got it in a glass because he would ALWAYS pretend to throw it at her. True story. CHEERS DAD! I’m not ashamed to say it, but me and Stoykes shared a single bottom bunk for the first three nights there until someone got rid of most of them! The showers/toilets (which were all outside by the way) were exactly the same. Crawling!! And again…we showered together for the first few days. No shame! I really thought I had walked into my own hell when I arrived there.
The work started out just as grim too (surprise surprise). We were both put in the chilli fields together on our first day and I suppose it wasn’t too bad as we had each other there to talk (and moan) to. The bushes we were picking from were no higher than our thighs (so killed our backs being bent over) and full of bees and big bonny coloured (but still very scary) spiders. Anxiety central. It’s safe to say that the bushes containing them bad lads got pied!
So lunch time came around and again, another shock! Nothing felt real! In this relatively small kitchen/dining area were about 30 people sprawled all over the place; sitting at the table, sitting on the sofa, sitting (all over) the floor and against the walls. Everywhere! The West and Eastern divide was pretty obvious, where the majority of the Easterners sat on the floor all speaking Mandarin and the Westerners around the table speaking a number of different European languages to each other. No matter who sat where, everyone seemed to be inhaling their food and going up to get seconds. It was then that we learnt about meal times (another moment where I nearly cried). Breakfast was white toast (I never eat white bread) at 6am, lunch was at 12pm of either white rice, pasta or those cheap noodles you get in a packet in Asda for 6p. Then dinner wasn’t till 6pm with yet again, awful white carbs! Ah lovely, I was going to go starving and swollen on this farm. There is no way I can go 6 hours without food either! That was it for me, everything was just shit shit shit…
THEN…(as if our first day wasn’t bad enough) we were back out in the fields picking chilli when we saw (and heard) a fire close by. I’m talking literally over the fence of the farm and it was getting out of hand. However, it didn’t stop all us typical backpacker farmers from standing there, making sure we all got snaps of it on our smartphones. It was a bush fire though. Of course we wanted to take pictures of it! The next thing we know, a Fire Marshall drives into the farm and then the farmer (who we hadn’t even met yet) then starts screaming at everyone “GET OFF THE FARM NOW YOU IDIOTS!…FIRE MEANS YOU DIE!” Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh great! Just what I wanted to hear!
We were all evacuated from the farm and had to keep moving down the road. A good half mile altogether as it came closer and we’d find ourselves amongst the smoke over and over again. We all thought the farm was up in flames and once again, what a shocker, I CRIED! I honestly thought all of our belongings were destroyed and this whole farm malarkey just wasn’t meant to be! Two hours later, after sitting at the side of the road getting covered in smoke and embers, watching the plane go over our heads showering out water, getting burnt, sparing the last of my water that now was like a bath in the bottle and just generally flapping, we were finally allowed back on the farm. Amazingly, the fire only just avoided the farm and there was only a meter or so between the crops and the trees which were now black and smoking. What a day!
So, I’m guessing you’re feeling very sorry for me now after reading that (obvz), but I thought I’d create the scene for you. Now though, I’ve realised I was just being an absolute pansy about it all (I’m blaming hormones) because I actually got used to it and things did get much better! First of all, after picking chilli for 6/7 hours a day for a backbreaking week of overplaying the music on my phone and singing or talking to myself (because that’s all you could do), I was then put in the cool room with Aimee (Stoykes). This was a very good thing apparently, as friends didn’t get put together!
In a nut shell, we pretty much sat in a fridge for several hours a day packing away squash (tasteless yellow flower looking things which I had never seen in my life before the farm) and zucchini (courgette for you English folk). Both vegetables I hope to never eat or even set eyes on again! Luckily, there was cool room clobber at hand for us to layer on in there. We literally wore 3 jackets, two pairs of pants and Ugg style boots. Oh yes, we looked lush! Like a Russian peasant, as my friend Holly called me. Anyway, sitting in that fridge for weeks on end doesn’t do a lot for your sanity but we did have a laugh in there and the slow loss of our marbles just made it all the more entertaining I suppose! Before I went in, Stoykes was in there with three Taiwanese girls who either didn’t speak or just spoke Mandarin to each other. The poor lass was nearly in tears. Moses to the rescue!
Fortunately for us all at the farm, we had a pretty sweet farmer who would treat us to beers and barbecues once or twice a week. So as you can imagine, this felt a bit like Christmas! So much so, that the girls would even wear a little bit of makeup for the occasion (ooh la la). Almost everyone took full advantage of the free alcohol (particularly the Westerners, SHOCK), the beer bong came out (along with the peer pressure), we’d all fight for the first sausages on the barbecue despite them being cheap and nasty (anything other than rice was a luxury), certain people got lairy, certain people went to bed early, certain people’s alter egos came out… I’ll not go into great detail here but there was always someone to laugh at! Me being one of the main fools of course; singing, dancing, doing my impression of the gypsies hailing punters onto the waltzers at the fair *hands over face*… I’m such a predictable drunk! I definitely had the beer fear the morning after the barbecues.
Oh, and only 4 days into my stint at my very first barbecue, I dropped my phone and totally broke it! Not what you need when you’re there…I’ll tell you that for nowt!! I’d had my trusty little iPhone 4 for 3 years and never broke it once, but as soon as I get on the farm I smash it to bits! What are the chances!? Luckily, I had a canny little helper who got it fixed for me and I had it back in 2 weeks. I had to use other people’s iPods in the meantime for music which is always interesting and sign into Facebook on other phones too for any contact with the outside world. I was also really fortunate in the fact that I had said helper to come and visit me and take me off the farm for little excursions…it was definitely like Christmas!!!!
So despite all the huffing and puffing, losing my mind and questioning whether gaining my second year visa was actually worth it all (which it definitely was as I recently had it granted *very big massive smiley happy face*), the farm actually became home (hmmm sort of). It was normal to be in the fridge, it was normal to sleep and shower with the spiders, it was normal to get a sickening whiff of the pigs now and then, it was normal to eat the same food every single god damn day, it was normal to feel like a scruffy little boy every day, it was normal to speak in broken English during conversation with most of my farm friends… Even though those first few days were tough, the good times definitely outweighed the bad and I’m going to put that farming period down as one of the best experiences I’ve had. I made some sound friends, had some good laughs, did some things that I never thought I’d do and it opened my mind even more so. A time in my life that I’ll never ever forget.