Week 26 – Slow and Peaceful Week

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One week ago, I thought that this week would be a busy and hectic week because it was kind of a deal breaker on my visa extension status. Should it get rejected or should I not receive a reply from them, I would have to figure out how to sell my car and book a ticket out of New Zealand the following week.

Well, the good news is that I no longer have to fret about these issue(s) because.. my visa extension finally got approved – on Tuesday – 8 days before my current visa expires. Immigration really loves to play with my heart and mental capacity. Or perhaps it’s ‘just my luck’ – life giving me endless problems so.. i can have content to blog about. Without all these ups and downs, my blog will be even more boring than this so.. THANK YOU PROBLEMS AND ISSUES FOR GIVING ME CONTENT.

As per my post title ‘slow and peaceful’, this has indeed been one of the slowest and flat (in terms of emotions) week in the past 26 weeks. Apart from the good news of my visa extension which gave me a sense of relief more than happiness, my emotional bandwidth was totally flat.

December hasn’t and will never be a super fantastic month for me since two years ago and it will probably remain the same for the rest of my life but it’s okay. I’m not a big fan of Christmas, especially the gift exchanges, but I do enjoy having the excuse to meet up with my old friends in the various stages of my life. For whatever reason, year end is always a reason to make time for one another, even though we kind of have 11 other months to meet. Anyway, this is none of my fuss this year because I’m so far away and I wonder if my friends would even remember to facetime me during their gatherings. I think it has been months since my last facetime call and the 5 hours time difference makes it difficult too. Oh wells. None of my friends are reading this either (at least not within the week I post) and they all depend on my IG story updates to know that I’m alive. Some people may think like i’m an IG-whore cause I show every single nonsense on my IGS but one of the reasons I do it so frequently is because I need to recall what I do on each particular day so I can update my blog/travel guide in case my memory fails. I kind of enjoy IGS because it saves memory space from my phone, yet I can always reflect on it when the need arises.

Few weeks ago, I did wonder if I would feel too lonely on Christmas, New Year’s eve and Chinese New Year, so much so that it will propel me back home quickly. Now that Christmas is just 3 days away (It was 22 Dec when I wrote this), I don’t know if I really do give a damn even if i’m feeling lonely this Christmas. I now have my own room (in a student hostel), with a proper table and chair, with a window view of a big field and a backdrop of occasionally snowy mountains. I enjoy the solidarity in my own space and.. i only have my accommodation for 5 more weeks. Right.

Okay so let me continue with my all-so-boring week 26 of mine. On Monday, we had a two hour paid induction which was followed with sad news that there would be no work on Tuesday (and then on Wednesday as well) because of the bad weather. The weather has been super insane, with temperatures dropping to single digit at night and I would have totally freeze at night without my kind friend’s sleeping bag and duvet blanket. On my worst night, I wore my thickest track pants, jacket, socks and gloves. This summer has been getting too cold and.. I’ll probably start complaining later when it gets too hot. Okay cut the crap but the cherry season is.. CRAP this year. I’m not even sure if CRAP is an understatement or not. Central Otago is supposed to be the region receiving the least amount of rain; but rain has been falling over the entire New Zealand, causing floods in areas like Wanaka (from the endless melting snow) and even the major expressways were closed. To weeks ago, the north and south portions of South Island were divided for almost 48 hours as all the access roads were damaged. The aftermath was that there were empty shelves in the supermarket the following day(s) as the deliveries could not be fulfilled. Furthermore, I even had a 12 hours of no mobile reception and no wifi as there was an outage by one of the mobile network operators. I spent the night playing the handphone game ’20’ until I fell asleep at about 10pm+.

Anyway, when it rains too much and the sun is not out enough, the cherries will not be able to ripen quickly. Furthermore, when rain is collected on the cherries, it may cause the cherries to split (making it not worthy of sale) and here’s the explanation from google:

“It is the absorption of the water through the fruit cuticle. This occurs as the cherry nears ripening. At this time there is a greater accumulation of sugars in the fruit and if it is exposed to long periods of rain, dew or high humidity, the cuticle absorbs the water, resulting in split cherry fruit. Simply put, the cuticle, or outer layer of the fruit, can no longer contain the increasing sugar amount combined with the absorbed water and it just bursts.”

Credit: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/fruits/cherry/fruit-split-in-cherries.htm

Anyway, it seems like all cherry farms in the central otago area has been affected by this ridiculous weather pattern. A lot of us (orchard workers) are having pathetic work hours (I got 17.25 hours this week) and a lot of other people have their start date pushed back time and time again. As a result, I had 2 extra days of loafing around this week, despite already having a 5 day break last week. Oh wells.

So on Tuesday, it was raining but I persisted and with my huge determination, I made it out of the hostel with an umbrella. At that point, I was wondering that it could be my last week here and I shouldn’t be just spending the day sitting around with my laptop. I had indian curry $12 set lunch with a friend at this restaurant which I have revisited for my 3rd or 4th time. Then, we went for coffee at a cafe and ended off with grocery shopping (like how all outings end in NZ) at New World. It was a pretty relaxing day out despite the cold and wet weather. On Wednesday (it wasn’t raining but they didn’t let us work as they needed the cherries to be dried -_-), I went out with a somewhat stranger to some far away local-recommended town called ‘Naseby’ and re-visited the Blue Lakes at the no-mobile-reception St. Bathans for the second time. Thankfully it was a sunny day and my photos did justice to the beauty. Right.

On Thursday, we finally reported to work, at 12pm. It was a messy start but I guess it can be understood as it was the first day. The sad truth is that there are double standards given to the cherry selections between local and export market. For export market, they are a lot stricter and the average and not so pretty cherries get thrown into the boxes for the local market. Apparently this is the norm everywhere, even across the other fruit industries like kiwi and blueberries. Unlike Japan, they reserve the best for.. the overseas market, where they probably can get a more premium price for it? I mean you can blame the business decision but I’m not complaining because.. even 3rd grade cherries taste so delicious!

1st grade: For export markets

2nd grade: Local market

3rd grade: Thrown into the ‘waste’ bin where we are allowed to pick and bring them home after our shift ends.

On my first day, I brought back about 30-40 pieces of cherries and after eating more than 10, I started questioning myself why I took so much cherries home. On the second day, I spent a long time choosing 11 ideal cherries. On the third day, we had a different cherry variety which was smaller and harder and I ended up bringing a small ziplock bag of cherries home. There’s only so much cherries I can fit in my belly so.. I ended up making cherry jam yesterday night.

It turned out pretty good even though I didn’t have any recipe. I just added de-stoned the cherries, added them into a pot with lemon juice and sugar on agar-ation feel and stir and stir and stir on low heat. Left it to cool overnight and this morning I had it with bread and yoghurt and it was.. delicious! I even had it with coke just now to create urm cherry cola. I wonder how many days it will take to make me sick of cherries.

Anyway, so it is Sunday right now and yep it’s one of the rare stay-at-home weekends that I’m having. I don’t know why I didn’t want to go out. Normally, I would love to go out (as long as I’m not driving) and I wouldn’t mind repeating the places that I’ve already visited but I’m not sure why I didn’t had the feel. I lazed in bed this morning till about 10-11am+ and I went out for breakfast. Wanted to continue with lunch but the kitchen was too crowded and I went back to my room to watch korean drama. Went out again at 1pm and continued with lunch and by 3pm I was back to watch another korean drama. If you’re keen, I’m watching Ha Ji Won’s Chocolate and Hyun Bin’s ‘Crash landing on You’; both are available on Netflix. It’s been a long while since I had to wait patiently weekly for the two new episodes but I guess, at least it is something I can look forward to every weekend right now; even if I’m not going out. It’s currently 7:30pm and I’m waiting out till 8pm+ to warm up my dinner and perhaps wait for my friends to return with the salmon sashimi and maybe we’ll have rice dumplings too because today is the winter solstice which somewhat symbolises the start of winter in.. mandarin?

(Moving on to Monday) Work started at 10:30am and oh wow. Today was the first time I had to work with a partner (previous 3 working days I was on my own) and for whatever reason, I started getting failures by the QC team. To be honest, I felt I put in the same amount of effort in checking the cherries but it seems like I wasn’t as attentive as compared to last week? Or perhaps they were just more strict today? Anyway, the export cherries are really a pain. I not only have to check for dents, rubs, cracks or splits, I have to ensure that their shape looks like a cherry. It feels kind of frustrating when you keep hearing that you’re not doing well enough and moreover, I have no more music/audio book to distract me from my job so it’s just.. staring at cherries all day all night. Occasionally, I try to hum some melody or songs in my head and hope that time can just fly by and very often, it does not. It really sucks to be not allowed to bring in our handphone and/or earphones. I truly feel sorry for myself everyday and the boredom is killing me but.. let’s see how I hang in there. Everything is.. an experience for me.

Recently, I keep having this random feeling of boredom (not just in work but for my entire experience here). After my visa extension got approved and now that I suddenly have an extended 3-months-break from my reality (of corporate job), I am really wondering about what my next steps are. Time is kind of running out and I’m going to be stuck in this town for the next month, should I choose to remain in this cherry job. I mean back when I applied for my visa extension, the purpose was to work in the cherry packhouse cause it seems like a dream job on everyone’s working holiday bucket list and now that I’m in the job and that it feels really boring, I’m questioning myself on this decision. I have also made friends (both new and old) and sometimes people are the ones that make you hold back on your impulsive decision.

I was looking back at this quote that I once on a blog (some time in Feb) where the writer said “If I don’t have the guts to leave my job, I don’t deserve to travel.” Now that I have left my job and went on this working holiday journey, I’m questioning myself.. am I really traveling? The pace of travel and places that I’ve lived and moved to for the past six months is pretty pathetic that I don’t deserve to call myself a traveler anymore. The past months have allowed me to experience what it is like to live a regular life here in New Zealand and.. I don’t think this is what traveling should be?

Right now, I can’t seem to remember the feeling of travelling; though my friends back at home always tell me that my entire stay here is already a holiday. Have I been too jaded in my work that I’m no longer feeling the excitement that I’m on holiday or perhaps the recent setbacks (like my accommodation, car and visa) has put me on a fatigue and I’m feeling tired and somewhat worn out. Or perhaps I’m just feeling the jitters of 2020 and the anxiety of returning home to job search and urm.. attending 8 weddings (and perhaps more)..

I was thinking about what I can write for my 2019 reflections last night (well I have been doing that every year on this blog) and my mind is pretty much a blank sheet despite appearing to be living the life here in New Zealand, or perhaps what my ex-colleagues think.

Apologies for turning down the mood in my writing but.. this is just a really slow week for me, after all the mess that happened for the past few weeks.

Nevertheless, Christmas is coming (I kind of feel more of it on IG stories more than the atmosphere here) and I don’t exactly want 2020 to come so soon cause I haven’t figured out what I want to do with my life (which is quite a common problem in all my years) but.. there’s one thing for sure; I’m pretty excited to go home to eat all the local food and visit all the familiar countries and have meet ups with my friends. (right, tell me why did I extend my visa again?) But that chapter of homecoming hasn’t started yet; I have to figure out the moves for my next three months (or less) and pray that some dream job back at home magically appears and everything falls into place #priorities (yes, I do hate the thought of being jobless)

It is Christmas eve tomorrow so.. Merry Christmas to my not-so-many readers!! I hope you guys are prepared for 12 more weeks of my random ramblings and not get bored of it.

Cheers^

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