The last weeks were … full.
Full of impressions, disappointments, joy, fun, annoyances and hope.
I spent my time surfing couches in Brisbane, sleeping in different houses, experiencing different wild pets. My host Aaron has kangaroos. My host Nay has pythons. My host Duncan has possums and a cat. Those days were clustered with one main topic: the omnipresent job search. Spending hours and hours in the library, writing applications, calling people. I even got one job offer as a kennel hand (taking care of dogs) but I don't feel like committing myself to a job with 2 people for seven months, that's not why I came to Australia. To earn money - yes. To settle down - no. To stay until June - NO! I have to admit that these days I regret it in a way because I'm getting closer and closer to where the money ends. Suffocatingly close. Besides the job search I passed my days in Brisbane by playing chess games (and winning them all), playing football, reading and simply having a great time with my new friends.
At some point I realized - or finally admitted to realize - that is was no good to keep looking for a job by Internet. I had to go to the farms directly. And this is where my car plays an important role. Did I mention that I bought a car? I did. Martín, my Argentinian friend, wrote to me via Couchsurfing. We both had the same idea, driving around farms and ask for jobs until we would find one. So we bought a tent, camping equipment and got started on Tuesday, 29th of October. We were driving South because friends of mine had recommended me a town called Stanthorpe where they grow apples. But by arriving there we couldn't find any job. So we went on, town by town. Asking in fruit shops about the farmers, registering in harvest offices, dropping by farms (called gate-knocking) and in Gatton we finally saw a field where people were picking onions. We dropped by and the boss directly handed us scissors and buckets and we started picking onions. My final thoughts about onion-picking are: this is slavery. You stand bending for 10 hours, cut yourself with the extremely sharp scissors, get awful blisters and only get around 50 dollars for this. No, thank you! Recognizing slavery work: if there are mainly Asians on the field, don't take the job! We decided to go on. But pay day is on Friday, and it was a Wednesday. So we left our payment slips of paper at our Asian friend's house and actually we wanted to give him those 90 dollars as a present but he insisted that he would receive the money for us on Friday and transfer the money to our bank account. We were happy to not have worked for nothing.
By the way, we were always camping on beautiful camp sites along the road and always under those beautiful purple trees. The first night we slept on a camping site in the rainforest, it was beautiful but it had several - actually two - disadvantages. Anytime we wanted to go to the toilet, we got attacked by this weird bird that nosedived down the tree, nearly crushing into us, and the toilet was just a hole in the ground, so it stank tremendously. Like in that movie scene in Slumdog Millionaire where the kid dives into the s***. After that onion-picking day we were really lucky b******s because we found a camping site with showers and for free! We were sooo happy!
Soon we hit Childers. Childers is a 1,600 person village, 40 km away from the coast. It's famous because a few years ago somebody lit the backpacker's hostel on fire and several people died but no worries, that was a couple of years ago. We bumped into an Argentinian. Just letting you know: if two Argentinians meet each other outside their country, it means as much as if two persons from the same village in Germany meet each other in America. We quickly made friends and were told all the good advice about the place. So we got the number of another Argentinian staying in Childers. We called him and he directed us to the caravan park Sugar Bowl. We agreed to stay one week in Sugar Bowl and moved into our new place, it was a room with 3 beds. Sugar Bowl is a caravan park that provides a job if you pay them accommodation. Everyone staying there was working and they had good jobs with good wages. In the later afternoons the first kangaroos used to show up, huge families of them were hanging around in the backyard. The babies are called "Joes". Another phenomenon was the Kookaburra. The Kookaburra is a bird with a very huge beak. Every morning he sits down on the bench in front of one of the glass doors of our rooms and started staring intensely and like a mad man at the window pane. After some minutes he smashed himself with all the power a little bird possesses against the window, only to fall back and hit the ground. Then he would sit on the ground and knock with his beak against the glass for a couple of minutes. He would repeat this procedure along the whole day. We decided to call him Anne (Turkish for mother) because he kept waking us up in the mornings. Well, anytime somebody mentions Anne we burst into laughter Another curiosity of the Sugar Bowl is certainly Quan. Quan is a war refugee from Vietnam. He fled to Australia as a teenager and worked all his life in Australia since then. He doesn't have many teeth left, he starts drinking in the morning as soon as he wakes up and he keeps smoking weed all day long. He earns his money by farm jobs and selling weed to all the young backpackers. At night he always will have drunk and smoked that he's totally stoned and then he would start singing while playing the guitar. When he plays the guitar, he sounds like a wounded animal. He is nowhere at home, he doesn't even have a proper language because he was cut off from Vietnamese after he left and in all those 30 years in Australia he never mastered the language. Those days in Childers we drove around by car and asked for jobs at the farms but we never obtained anything. And one day we got this call from Chad who offered us work as tree planters in Brisbane. So we packed everything and drove back to Brisbane in one day. We hit my friend Duncan's place and the next day Martín started working. He hadn't sleep a single minute in the night before because as a tree planter you need to have a "White Card", a Safety Certificate to be allowed to work on construction sites. So we spent all the night on passing the exams. The very first day he worked 10 hours, my poor friend and he was so destroyed after that. And then I got the message that I also would work the next day. So on Friday we got up at 5 and drove to a residential area where we planted 2000 plants in a roundabout. All the next working days were days full of suffering and forcing yourself and working more than 8 hours and sweating and pain everywhere. Try to imagine kneeling for 8 - 10 hours in a row, it is painful! You get sore muscles everywhere! Feet, arms, legs, shoulders, back. Especially if you also have to use the drill. I hate the drill! I don't know how many plants we planted this week, thousands and thousand but let's see for how long we can stand this job. In the course of finding work we went looking for a flat last Saturday and moved in on Sunday. It's a twin room with two beds in the suburbs of Brisbane. We have a really nice veranda and nice flat mates. I love it here. So this weekend we are curing our wounds (blisters, sore muscles etc.) and next week there is more of this work…this is my report for now. There are heaps of things I missed out but well. I miss you guys!