vrijdag 23 januari 2015

A slow and steady September in New Zealand

Click here for the (automatically translated) Dutch version.

Still trying to catch up, even though I’m 4 months behind…sorry about that! This blogpost will probably a bit boring for many of you, since not too many things happened in September. We were mainly just living a normal working life after having - more or -less settled down in August, the month in which everything was still very new and exciting. Not that living in one place for only a month will teach you all the ins and outs about it and nothing will surprise you anymore, definitely not! But, surely we found a kind of steady rhythm, which will show through the journaling in this post and might not be very exciting to read. Besides that, the second half of September also brought upon us some unfortunate events, making this read even less fun.

On the other hand, this ís part of the traveling life (I’ve not met any backpackers yet who can travel for a year without working!), and friends back at home showed some interest in what our daily life looked like. Also, I remember that I myself was really curious about this part before our big adventure started! You won’t have any trouble finding blogs about the cool parts of traveling: seeing lots of interesting stuff, undertaking adventurous activities, etc. The more boring money-making part of it though is seriously underrepresented, and the harder challenges and troubles that every traveler will face are often not really emphasized. Logically…who’d be interested in that?! But I’m the kind of girl who likes to know what to expect beforehand so I can kinda prepare myself, emotionally. Maybe there are more silly control freaks out there just like me, preparing their travels and wondering what working and living as a traveler will be like. If so: continue reading! ;)

Ouch…my arms are really killing me! I guess all the massaging and climbing isn’t doing them much good, but the pain should probably stop at some point, shouldn’t it? Today a client who was booked in with me for a 90 minute massage didn’t show up, so I practiced a hotstone massage on Katie, one of my colleagues (she’s actually a beauty therapist, who only does light-pressure massages…manicures and masks are more her kind of thing) and Vanessa’s (our boss) right hand. Katie is quite a funny girl. I guess I always had some wrong prejudices about beauty therapists, unrightfully so! She told me about how she had to do a massage this week on someone who had this huge head tattooed on his leg…she kept apologizing in herself to the head every time she kneaded it, because it looked so painful and weird. Lol! The hotstone massage went well, I’m ready to perform this treatment now as well. And it’s something extra I can put on my resume next time!

This is what my 'office' looks like these days!

Even though Mark is working for cash, most employers in New Zealand will prefer to employ their people the official way - although real backpacker jobs like fruit picking can be paid under the table as well. It’s quite easy to get an IRD (inland revenue) number, which is all you need to start working as a registered employee and pay taxes. The tax system in New Zealand is called PAYE: Pay As You Earn. For me this meant that I only have to pay 20% income tax for my job at the Spa, and even less (12%) for my job at the craft store. Definitely better than in the Netherlands!

Mark was off today and it wasn’t particularly busy at the Spa, so Vanessa gave me green light to go climbing with the boys (Mark and his American colleague Hayden, remember him from the previous blog?). Hayden’s girlfriend Maddie came along this time as well. They form a nice couple together; back in the US they were both working in the outdoor industry with disabled kids, which is also where they fell in love with each other.

Hayden climbing @ Hospital Flat, Maddie belaying.

The four of us set course towards ‘Little Big Wall’; another sub part of the Hospital Flat climbing area, and also the highest one (2 pitches maximum, so still not thát high). We had a great afternoon - even though climbing and doing firm pressure massages remains a deadly combination - and shot an awesome new gorilla-like Facebook profile picture for Mark (don’t think he’s actually climbing or doing some kind of hard move…both feet are firmly on the ground, mwuah!).

It looks só professional and tough...

...but he's actually not even wearing his climbing shoes.

We’re both getting more and more used to our new jobs. Mark hasn’t had any accidents already for a couple of days - bravo! - and I am still surviving working on call. Andy (our backcountry course guide) dropped by last night to talk about the possibilities for a follow-up course in glacier terrain. We’re aiming for a couple of days in the two-week time frame Andy has in October, and are all crossing our fingers for a bit more snow. Andy said there are usually one or two more big loads in September/October, which sounds promising! We definitely need it, because for now the poor winter just seems to be continuing (which is serving us well in terms of climbing…but not so much for skiing!).

Mark was off again today (his boss seriously seems to be taking all the time in the world to build that house), so we could be found in Hospital Flat again; ‘Main Cliff’ today.

Moi, on the rocks: one of my favourite places to be!

Good thing about climbing at Hospital Flat is that it’s still within a sufficient reach of the Spa. I can get called for a massage as late as 1,5 to even 1 hour before, so I can never go very far away. But, depending on the sub part where we’re climbing, we’ll be back at the car within 20 minutes, where I have 10 minutes to get changed (I always have my black clothes and decent shoes with me these days!) and fix my hair, and then another 30 minutes to drive back to Wanaka. Just right!

After the climbing we took the turnoff towards West Wanaka, after both being advised to do so by locals last week on the same day. Wow! A winding gravel road through private land and meadows full of deer and cows brought us to a kind of beach/bay, where the Matukituki River ends in Lake Wanaka. It’s really an incredibly beautiful and remote spot, where some mountainbike tracks happen to start as well. We certainly have to do those later! It amazes me every time again by the way how - no matter in what obscure or remote place you find yourself – you’ll always come across neat and well-maintained dark green DOC (Department of Conservation) signs and information boards. Really handy!

Mark has been dragging around big branches again, of course, and throwing rocks in the river and such…New Zealand never fails to bring out the little boy in men.

Wanaka West, at the Matukituki River.

In the end I didn’t get called to work today, not for a single massage. That’s really the downside of working on call…if we would’ve known this before, we would definitely have gone skiing, or undertake a day trip to Mount Aspiring National Park. But it is as it is, and at least our climbing skills are evolving rapidly :)

A fallen tree...still good to use as a lookout point though!

Again no work at the Spa. Winter season in Wanaka is obviously coming to its end, I hope this won’t be characterizing for the rest of September and October. However, today was a good day to be off, I felt a bit under the weather. With a huge headache and deadly tired, my body seemed to be telling me that it needed some serious rest. So I spent the main part of the day with a blanket on the couch, while Mark did some grocery shopping, researched stuff online about car batteries (for the van) and served me drinks and lots of love.

Yay, we're in the picture! (Using the timer on your phone
while balancing it on one of the tree's branches isn't easy,
I tell you.)

Today I did my first shop hours at the Artist’sCorner; the new craft store in Wanaka where I’ll be working one day a week and teaching craft workshops. It was cool, and a bit weird as well, to stand in shop – all by myself – for the first time in my life, selling stuff and helping customers. Not that it was thát busy…but hey, I did sell some things! The store is in the same mall as a church, and many of the church-goers dropped by to take a look after the service was finished. Quite some crafty folks among them, that might secure a steady flow of customers on Sundays :) Wanaka seems to be an artsy town anyway, some local artists popped in as well to get supplies and leave their cards. In the meantime I priced products and took some inventory pictures for the online store. After shop hours I raced to the Spa to do a massage. Today was a busy day for the masseuses, because it’s Father’s Day here in New Zealand…and a massage seems to be a popular gift for daddies.

Mark was off today of course (weekend!), so he went climbing with Hayden and Zack (Hayden’s housemate). At the end of the afternoon we all met at the Waterbar (silly name for a regular bar, it doesn’t just serve water), where Karl (Mark’s and Hayden’s boss) suddenly walked by and yelled that there would still be no work tomorrow and the day after. Hayden’s perplexed face was priceless, after 15 minutes he was still stuttering “what just happened?!” I guess this is the Kiwi style of working? But for real…days off are fun, but we need an income!

Mark and Hayden...look at their concentration!

We started the new week as a retired couple :P Slept in and watched a documentary in bed (Indie Game; very interesting and a bit sad at times). I dyed some yarns while Mark did some more research on car batteries. It’s quite complicated stuff (he tries to explain it to me, to no avail), luckily I got myself attached to quite the handy guy. At the end of the afternoon I had to do a massage (an ‘important client’, according to Vanessa), while Mark did some grocery shopping. Perfect way to spend the first day of the week.

You might remember from a previous blogpost that we are living in Lake Hawea, and not in Wanaka. Every time you read about us doing something in town (like working, shopping or going to the bar), I’m talking about Wanaka…because Lake Hawea has pretty much no facilities except for a small and expensive grocery store that we only go to in case of emergency. It’s a 20 minute drive from Lake Hawea to Wanaka, so we always try to combine stuff (like shopping and working). It’s really ideal that Mark can carpool with his colleague, otherwise things would’ve been quite complicated (we might have even needed a second car then!). The road between Wanaka and Lake Hawea is not yet boring either of us. It’s a beautiful drive through the countryside, and because we ride it on a daily basis, we can slowly see the season change in a very interesting way!

Today we went climbing again with Hayden. Just after we left the van Mark and Hayden got a text from Karl: again no work tomorrow. We might end up poor if it goes on like this (poor people with very good climbing skills that is)! We really did well today; the amount of training is definitely showing off. I led a 23 (approximately a 6B+/6C in the European grading system), not without hanging…but I did it all the way, and all by myself, woohoo!

In full action :D

At the end of the afternoon I did a Muscle Relief at the Spa (60 minute massage with a 30 minute foot treatment…the peppermint mask smells absolutely delicious!), while Mark had a very interesting encounter. A German guy approached him and said: “that used to be my van”. It’s seriously unbelievable, so let me explain: we bought the van last July from an English couple, who drove it down to Queenstown all the way from Auckland, where it had belonged to 2 German guys. The 2 German guys had bought it in Auckland as well, from the German guy who was now talking to Mark. He owned the van about 2 years ago, went back to Germany, and is visiting New Zealand at the moment again just for a holiday. What are the odds?! We even still have the same camping cooker he bought for it, and probably some other stuff…and did I mention that he was the one who turned the van into a campervan, and took out 9 of the 12 chairs?!

I’m really starting to notice how ‘small’ New Zealand (especially the South Island) actually is, in terms of how often you run into the same people. Wanaka isn’t a big metropolis, but for the South Island it’s certainly not a small village either. Still, you see the same faces over and over, more often it feels than back in the Netherlands. Maybe a city just ‘looks’ big here, but isn’t so in reality? The houses here are spacious (plenty of room, so just one floor), and the amount of land around the houses is even larger. A city the size of Wanaka in the Netherlands would for sure at least have 5 times more inhabitants, living in flats and stacked houses with teeny tiny gardens. No wonder you’d be more anonymous in a crammed city like that…

The daughter of one of the 2 owners of the craft store was sick today, so they called to ask if I could do some extra shop hours. No problem at all, the wooden frames at Marks work STILL didn’t arrive, so he still can’t work…all extra income is welcome!

While I was in the shop, there was a brand representative at work as well, organizing and labeling a lot of products. He could tell me a couple of very interesting things about paint and their pigments, and why some tubes of paint are so incredibly expensive (while another color in the same sized tube can be very cheap). In the meantime I continued pricing other products. I never knew that you can actually buy paint brushes of over 90$...I’m really learning lots of new stuff!

My view when having lunch in between shop hours. 

Another couple of days filled with a bit of working and a bit of relaxing. Luckily I have at least one massage a day now (sometimes more) and Mark could finally get back to work again this Thursday, because the wooden frames have arrived at last. Him leaving early in the morning gave me some quiet time to skype with one of my best friends in the Netherlands and do some house holding chores (which is slowly getting out of hand by the way…and no, I’m NOT nesting! It’s just that I’m such a terrible perfectionist, it’s só tiring sometimes…). I’ve developed a weird relationship with our bag-less vacuum cleaner as well. I think you’re not really supposed to keep sucking up dirt until literally everything inside the handy machine is blocked…sigh.

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Anyway, yesterday (Friday) brought some good and bad news. The good news is that it’s finally snowing – YAY! And it looks like it will continue to do so for the coming week – more YAY! The bad news is that snow in the mountains meant rain in town, so Mark didn’t have to go to work, again. This rainy weather really sucks, climbing or mountain biking is neither an option. And there’s more bad news: Carrie seems to be a little sick. There’s some weird, rumbling/boiling sound coming from her insides every time after we’ve been driving, which can’t be good. Today (Saturday) we actually – finally – wanted to hit the snow and go skiing, but we didn’t dare to drive the steep uphill gravel road towards one of the ski resorts with Carrie in this condition. So now Mark is trying to figure out what can be wrong (seriously, that guy is on his way to become one fantastic combination of a mechanic, electrician and builder if things go on like this!). Hopefully we can go skiing next weekend then, preferably without an expensive necessary visit to the car doctor.

In the meantime we took the bad weather as an excuse to behave like real nerds and spent the day gaming: old school Rayman (my all time favourite), Transport Tycoon, beer and potato chips. Oh, and we found out that your house can suddenly be occupied with 3 bouncing kinds, a barely English speaking Swiss guy and a (deliciously) cooking housemate. She’s not home often, but if she is you will definitely notice ;)

Our miniature foodies from New World (the big supermarket
brand here in New Zealand). Perfect for my dollies :P

Today during lunch break at the Artist Corner (shop hours) I found the best little café in town just around the corner: Patagonia. They not only sell good coffee, but also all kinds of homemade chocolate, cookies, cakes, breakfasts, smoothies, juices, iced coffee and…incredibly yummie-tasting icecream in prize-winning flavors. Of course I dragged Mark to the place after work to try some out: Hokey-Pokey is my new definite favorite (kind of a fresh vanilla taste with crispy little honey balls – OH HEAVENS!).

We also went climbing (indoor) for a bit, practicing some of the exercises of the technical course we finished back home just before leaving for New Zealand. Pfew, we really need to repeat these movements and techniques wáy more often if we want them to become automatic and actually profit of them when climbing outdoors. A bucket full of discipline, anyone, please?

One of the many pictures we secretly took of the rock climbing
guide book for Hospital Flat in the library. Making copies was
not allowed...but hey, it's sold out!

Okay, we’ve got a serious problem. Carrie is definitely ill, and it’s not just a simple flu. The engine kept overheating when driving, so it was really time to take her to the garage. Diagnosis: cracked head, and maybe a little tear in the cylinder block. Don’t ask me what it means, all I know is that it costs a shitload of money to repair, probably around 2500$. Plus the expenses of our rental car, that we will most certainly need for at least a week, and which for some unexplainable reason only receives an über Christian radio station that keeps telling us to be bright and positive and how much we have to be thankful for…the irony ;) We’re just hoping on many working hours and lots of sold crafts to be able to pay for this. Why, oh why is it right now that I’m starting to feel a tennis elbow evolving in my right arm?!

Mork work, less play. The expenses on our van have really blown us away. Especially after I managed to get a huge speeding ticket last week because I was speeding up already 400 meters before I was actually allowed to…my goodness, that was really the last straw. I just snapped, couldn’t help myself and started crying like a little girl. The poor policeman was so startled by it that he more or less threw the fine into the car and ran away as fast as he could, haha!

You know, it’s just that we saved funds, made sacrifices and worked for this so long, and now we have to spend that money on a stupid reparation. SO much money, just disappearing in a second, gone! We are really trying to not let it ruin our moods too much. It sucks big time and it’s very tempting to be very, very grumpy (New Zealand turns out to be quite an expensive country, and we’re still spending more than that we’re earning at the moment, so our saved up funds are quite dear to us), but I know that we also at the same time have so much to be thankful for (am I sounding like that Christian radio station now?). We’re trying to find the right attitude towards money (which, in the end, is still just ‘money’) and to see things in the right perspective. This turns out to be quite the challenge for us Western people. You probably only develop such a healthier attitude through situations like these…?

A full moon in Wanaka sky...

We try to work as much as possible, but it’s not áll work and no play at all, luckily! I found the perfect running track along the lake (10 km return: just you, the wind, the lake and the bunnies!), and Mark started drawing (a long forgotten hobby). And…drum roll…tomorrow we’re hitting the snow! Yes, it kept snowing last week, and there should be a nice fresh layer of powder tomorrow morning. Our gear seems to be fitting in our tiny rental car, so it’s time for some FUN!

Track along Lake Hawea's shore...

Quite different running in these surroundings, compared to the Netherlands!

There were plenty of bunnies on the track (impossible to capture them on a
photo though!)

Finally another day in the snow! It’s unbelievable, how spring seems to have taken off down in town already, while up at around 1800 meters you’re suddenly in the middle of winter wonderland again. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t that good; around 1pm little white crystals started falling down again, just like the previous couple of days (everyone who loves skiing knows: the ideal of snowfall during the night and sunshine during the day is a precious treasure). On moments like these you realize once more why the influence of the weather is so much bigger in the backcountry, compared to a commercial ski area with clear signs and tracks, avalanche control, etc.

Mark, preparing a nice run through the soft powder.

When snow starts falling, you have to be careful not to end up in a whiteout, in which literally everything around you becomes one big undistinguishable mass of white. Everyone who has ever skied will recognize that dizzy feeling you get when it’s a bit misty or snowy, and the reference of a clear horizon between blue sky and white snow disappears. When it’s really bad, you sometimes don’t even know which way is up, and which way is down. I remember carefully skiing from slope pole to slope pole once, imagine being in the backcountry in weather like that?!

Overlooking Cardrona's backcountry. You can see how little
snow there actually is...

Fortunately we took off early in the morning and were able to make some nice runs in Boundary Basin (Cardrona) before the bad weather set in. It also seems like skinning is – sloooowly – becoming a bit easier for me! Not long after it began snowing and blowing we called it a day, went home and sank down in a hot steaming bath. My tired muscles sang of pure joy.

...luckily still enough to make some nice runs!

Today I didn’t get called to the Spa, while Mark had to work all day. Yesterday was the opposite…luckily at least one of us is working every day to pay for Carrie’s reparations. Mark visited the garage yesterday, the price calculation they gave us beforehand seems to be correct, unfortunately. We just really hope that she’ll be running nice and smooth for the rest of the year now after this big fix up (a cracked head seems to be a common problem for Nissan Caravans, and it’s pretty much the worst and most expensive thing that can break down. It costs us half of what the whole van costed! But let me stop myself here – positive thinking Liset…money isn’t everything (this is so hard, aargh)).
My tennis elbow doesn’t seem to worsen, luckily, but the pain is neither decreasing. I know exactly what I’d recommend to a patient with this injury, but why is it so difficult to be your own physiotherapist? I’m really a far-from-ideal patient :P

Mark enjoys himself at work, driving around with Karl’s trailer. Last time he had to take it someplace he managed to get it so fully loaded that his maximum speed was 30 k/h…which must have been very pleasant for the cars behind him on the highway. Once back home he still has energy left to drive me nuts, while I’m trying to be Martha Stewart and keep the house clean (folding the laundry is impossible if someone keeps bombing you with underwear!), to eventually fall deep (DEEP) asleep on the couch at 21.30. Time for me to eat our last bag of potato chips, all by myself…that will teach him!

Another good way to lose some energy: wood chopping.

Seriously, how can it be so warm down here while the skifields are still open and they’re even forecasting snow for the second half of the week?! Mark was working today without a shirt on, and went for a bit of mountainbiking in my shorts. Really: if the sun shines in New Zealand, it is warm immediately.

The sun seems to be brighter here too. I never wore sunglasses a lot (by far not as much as Mark) back in the Netherlands, but down here you really need them. Constantly squeezing your eyes against the sun will only end in headaches. Did you know that New Zealand has the highest rates of skin cancer in the world? This is due to a hole in the ozone layer above the islands, resulting in less protection from the suns harming UV radiation.

We’ve got Carrie back! Finally…after 12 days in a shopping-trolley-sized rental car that speeded up way too easily, it feels so good to be driving the big van again. Going as fast as it can (110 k/h :P), making a hell of a noise...at least this is a real car! (And not a automatic, like all New Zealanders seem to be driving….seriously, with all those hills and curvy roads?!)

We found out that Contraption Maker is a very funny game by the way. We happily spent the night solving puzzles and working on our lateral thinking skills, with Carrie peacefully asleep again on the driveway.

No more silly noises coming out of the van, what a relief! Mark, the lucky bastard, went for another climb today in Hospital Flat. At some places in the sun it was almost too hot!

The view from Hospital Flat. If you look very, very closely, you
can see our van parked in the distance!

I had to work, unfortunately, at the Spa as well as at the craft store. Not much fun to be inside with this awesome weather, but we have to pay the bills. Today was the last time doing shop hours at the craft store by the way; they cannot pay me any longer. It’s quite a disappointment…working in a craft store was always kind of a dream job! The girls who own the place are great ladies, but I’m a bit surprised by their puzzlement over the fact that they are ‘still’ not making a profit. Really, after 2 months?! There doesn’t seem to be much planning-ahead going on, to put it mildly.

I will stay available for emergencies and for the craft workshops, but honestly: I don’t really see them happening either. Which is even a bigger disappointment (because teaching craft workshops is even a bigger kind of dream job!), and I put quite a lot of preparation in the classes I was supposed to teach. I’m just trying to not disregard that as wasted time and effort, maybe there will be another chance to use it, one day. Never stop dreaming!

I realize how my writing might sound contradictory at times. On the one hand, I want to work as much as possible, so I complain when it’s too quiet at the Spa. On the other hand, I complain when I dó get to work, because the weather’s too good, I want to go climbing with the boys, or the work’s just too much.

Besides the moments when I just need a kick under my butt and stop being so grumpy (like when feeling sorry for myself for having to sit inside with sunny weather, or not being able to join Mark on some fun adventures – that’s just life, get over it!) I guess the working life will always stay kind of a challenge for me. Because sometimes, it really ís too much. I have to put a lot of effort in finding the right balance: earning enough money to pay the bills, but not working so many hours that I will have a mental breakdown every time Mark or somebody else says something that MIGHT be taken the wrong way (which I will do, all the time, when working too much). I’m telling you, that kind of ‘overstimulated me’ is not much fun for neither of us. Working with and for people costs energy, being ‘on call’ for 6 days a week costs energy…but having a bit of money to do fun stuff or buy something extra every now and then is also pretty nice! And don’t get me started about the guilt, which I feel when drawing a line and refuse to work more (wondering a 1000 times a day if I’m actually just being a pussy), but which I ALSO feel when constantly having breakdowns and being a crybaby over nothing (poor Mark…I’m always afraid I’m pushing him away from me, acting like that).

You know what? Sometimes I seriously wonder how in the world I could think that working and traveling in a foreign country for a year would be a good idea for a highly sensitive, control addicted and perfectionist person like me. Really?! But then I remind myself: maybe the only way to learn, to become better at finding the right balance, at staying relaxed and being flexible is to put myself out there, out of my comfort zone. I really do hope I’m learning and growing (even though you never really realize it at the moment itself, because it takes time). I hope, I try, I stumble and try again.

A hot cuppa and some journaling always works when overstimulated.

(But can I tell you a little secret? I’ll humbly admit that my dream job is in the very center of my comfort zone, and I love daydreaming about it, especially on those moments when I’m overstimulated and hate working more than ever. If I just could live in a nice outdoorsy place, with some animals and a big garden, having my own craft studio, selling stuff online and maybe on a market every now and then and maybe, máybe even write a book…that would be heaven. I know life is probably not like that…but hey, a girl can dream, right?!).

It’s almost possible to sunbathe in bikini at the lakeside, but we hit the powder again today! It was ‘closing day’ at Treble Cone, an annual event for which everyone (literally…age 3 to pretty much 80!) dresses up and goes skiing in the craziest costumes. It was hilarious. I saw some men shredding bare naked, but the guy who went down the slope on his snowboard while stoically playing the ukulele in a vintage outfit definitely deserves the first prize if you ask me.

Treble Cone's backcountry, with Black Peak in the distance.

We took the ‘backdoor’ and did 2 nice runs in Treble Cone’s backbowl. I guess we now really know what they here call ‘spring skiing’: slushy snow, tussock skiing, corn snow…there’s still lots of fun to be had this time of year, even though summer seems to have taken off down in town.

Our lunch spot for the day :)

At the end of the day we met 2 kea’s: the most mischievous and non-shy birds I’ve ever seen. They came super close, posing for the camera and curiously hopping around. A nice way to end a lovely day!

The clowns of the mountains.

Kea’s are the world’s only alpine parrots, which can be found solely in New Zealand’s South Island. It’s about 48 cm long (quite big!), olive green with a brilliant orange under the wings. The special birds are known for their intelligence and curiosity, characteristics that are vital for survival in the harsh mountain environment. Some interesting studies pointed out that Kea’s can solve logical puzzles (like pushing and pulling things in a certain order to get to food, or working together to achieve a certain goal…they have even been filmed preparing and using tools!). I can tell you: when having such a close encounter with these birds as we had, you can see this cleverness in their cheeky, curious eyes. Kea’s are also called ‘the clowns of the mountains’; they will often investigate backpacks, boots, skis, snowboards and even cars, often causing damage or flying off with small items (bye bye sunglasses!).

Yes, this is really how close they came, not much
zooming in necessary!

Sigh…new problem: our housemate Glenn has disappeared. He still owes us 600$ on rent and bills, which he doesn’t seem to be going to pay. He blocked us on Facebook and doesn’t pick up his phone, so I guess that’s it. Really, who does something like that? I thought he was a nice guy! And finding a new housemate won’t be easy right now (at the end of the winter season), while, paying 2/3 of the rent (instead of 2/4) is something we’re not going to manage financially… So now what? Move houses?!

It might sound a bit stupid and naïve to have someone owing you that much of money, which it probably is. Maybe we’re just too quick in trusting other people, I seem to be doing this even more easily than Mark. It just doesn’t occur to me at áll that someone might misuse that trust in a way that would be incomprehensible to me. And in our defense: our housemate really seemed like a nice and decent guy, paid his bills on time before and was always good and helpful company to have around. A couple of weeks ago he started a new job quite far out of town, where he could stay during the week internally. He definitely wanted to keep his room for the weekends though, since he loved this place and thought it was a good spot to relax and rest after work. We believed him, since he left some of his stuff in his room. We asked him a couple of times during the last weeks about his payments (on Facebook or in texts), which he promised every time would come in soon. We were patient, but explained that we could also really use the money because of the car reparations…something he was very empathic about, he even tried to help out. So we didn’t really expect this kind of behavior! And what can you do, if someone doesn’t pick up his phone and blocks you on Facebook (which probably says enough)? According to the landlords Mark and I are the head-tenants, and the subtenants are our responsibility (something that isn’t stated all that clear in the contract, actually), so the New Zealand Tenancy Tribunal probably won’t help us. Neither will the police, whom we already visited: this is a legal matter, no police business. So…it looks like September is just going to be a VERY expensive month for us, in which many new (hard) lessons were learned.

I díd do something nice today to cheer myself up though: I went to Jill’s Wool – a pottery and wool & fiber shop. I’d seen the sign on one of the sideways (towards the little paradise of Dublin Bay) of the road between Hawea and Wanaka so many times already, and today seemed like a perfect opportunity/excuse to go shopping :) The visit really cheered me up, the old couple occupying the place there is really living the dream: earning their simple farm-living doing the things they love! And oh, the wools and yarns and fibers…drool!!

Next week I’ll be going back, because according to the lady they should be having some possum fiber in stock by then. Spinning possum fiber has been on my NZ to-do list since the beginning, am I really going to succeed in this goal?!

No matter what happens...skies like these always manage to take our breaths
away (taken from our home in Hawea!).

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