The First Week of Orange Picking
After the impulsive decision to change our plan in a completely different direction I thought it was a good time to look back over the first week of work and how we have coped.
I’m not going to lie it hasn’t been the easiest week, I am covered in scratches from the trees, my hands are full of splinters from the thorns, a massive bruise on my fore head from head butting the branch and one on the back of my head from dropping the ladder on myself. Despite all of this we have survived five days of work in insane heat. Our conclusion after the first week is that the alternative – of having a job we don’t want to do in somewhere that isn’t this beautiful – isn’t as great as this. In no way is this a permanent position – the whole time we are here we are looking at jobs we WANT to do in other places, but its a choice we have made together while we have no responsibility to do anything else.
We had hoped to be able to save some money while we were here, having got numbers and worked out figures before we left but since arriving and finding out the average amount we are picking it doesn’t seem so likely right now. We had no idea what to expect with how hard we would find the picking but being told some people pick up to 4 bins each a day makes our 2 bins each this week seem shameful and meaning to make some money we need to double our speed! (Which is exactly what we did the first day of our second week 🙂
The heat is far more intense than you could imagine having not been this inland yet, we really had forgotten how much cooler the coast can be. Thursday by midday was 53 degrees in the sun but luckily on days like these we start an hour earlier and get to finish by midday when the temperature becomes unbearable. Still adjusting to hard work is one thing but adjusting to it in the heat is something else. The variety in the fruit size is another factor to how much and how fast you can pick and nothing can determine this from others except maybe which farmer you are working for but even so this week we have had fruit the size of ping pong balls to the size of your average cereal bowl.
The boat living is a novel idea that we are loving however despite hearing everyone gets along on the boat we were told on our first night by some guy if we don’t drink ‘we will be hated’. We didn’t drink and he seems to be the only one who doesn’t like us much. Still that isn’t what you want to hear on your first day in new accommodation that is home for the foreseeable future. Since then we have met many other great people who we could easily build some great friendships with. Our room is a cosy space with bunk beds down in the ‘dungeon’ or better described as the bottom level of the boat with a window overlooking the river level and plenty of floor space to chill. The nicest part has been being able to unpack our bags after 6 weeks we felt it was time to! The only down side is we have to share a bathroom – but that’s what you get for the cheapest rent price.
We hired bags and gloves from the hostel boat and after five days of picking my gloves are in a real state! And despite being washed my clothes still look dirty but at least we are only wearing one set of clothes for the whole week!
Everyone finds it hard and the first week is the toughest of all but we have survived so far and are ready to hit another week’s work and try and improved even more. Currently we are making enough money to break even plus a little bit extra which seems to be more than most here however we are not spending all of our money on alcohol like many others here. The experience is challenging and different from anything we have done before but that is what we wanted from this. To do something we could not do at home, build our characters and push ourselves to do something we wouldn’t normally dream of doing. How long we stay here is anyone’s guess, only time will tell.