Car Trouble, Hastings, and A New Job

This has been another week of transitions. After having spent three weeks on a dairy farm with an incredibly family, it was time to move on to a new adventure. However, as I found out within 12 hours of leaving the farm, not all adventures start out with smiles and laughs. After attending a church in Rotorua on Sunday morning, it was on to Hawke’s Bay for our job interviews the following morning (or so I thought). Unfortunately, I wouldn’t get more than an hour from Rotorua that day.

As Nate and I drove on towards Hawke’s Bay, passing through Taupō and off onto the unknown roads, we were excited to be in a new area with new experiences awaiting us. About 40 minutes past Taupō was when things took a dark turn. We pulled over after a particularly bumpy part of the road to ensure our side door wasn’t going to fall to pieces (it’s come off the tracks and we are looking to get it fixed shortly), and realized quickly that there was a bigger problem: smoke was coming out from our engine.

Needless to say, smoke is never something you want to see emanating from a car engine.

We quickly checked the engine and found oil all over the place. This in itself wasn’t too unusual due to the fact that the last person that had topped up the oil on the car spilled it everywhere, however the smoking was a new thing that was a bit worrisome. After coming to a decision, we turned around and made for Taupō again, abandoning our plans to make it to Hawke’s Bay. We stayed overnight at a free campsite outside the city that we were familiar with and spent the evening playing poker and laughing with a few other travelers. This lull in stress for the day was much needed, and led to an even better following morning.

We took the car into a shop and instantly got bumped to the top of their list, bypassing all the reservations for the day. After a rather inexpensive engine cleaning, the mechanic said it seemed that nothing was actually wrong except perhaps a slow oil leak, but nothing serious. With this good news, we set out once more for Hawke’s Bay. We drove straight to an apple orchard that we had had some brief contact with, and were hired on the spot. There are 24 workers at the orchard, and 600 applicants, so we are excited to have the opportunity to work at the Willowford Alma Alta orchard. We spent the following two days just outside of Hastings at Te Awanga Holiday Park, a fantastic campground sitting on the best surf spot in the area and enjoyed exploring the area.

We have now officially parked The Banana Van at the accommodation that we will have for the next 10 weeks (provided by the orchard). We are sharing the camp with ten other workers, and have met six of them so far. We are a crazy group from all over the world that have somehow found our way to Hastings for the picking season. We have representatives from Argentina, the UK, Lithuania, Holland, and the USA, with more workers coming in to stay with us later. I can’t wait to see how this season of work and life will change my time here in New Zealand. I can’t wait to start working for pay again, and to be doing so with the friends that I have already made here.

It’s odd to think of how things work out sometimes. Last month, Nate and I were stuck in a campground due to a major storm that blew through the area and forced us to abandon our plans of visiting another city. If it hadn’t been for that storm, we wouldn’t have made a new friend that recommended us to this job.

 I’ve been on the lookout throughout this trip for ways that negative situations are used in positive ways. Every time something goes wrong, I strive to find something good or unusual that happens because of that situation, and remember it. The storm last month was one such situation that has led to our current job, and I’m sure there will be more situations in the future. Call it what you will (God, luck, karma, fate, etc.), but I’m determined to recognize these small acts of God (as I see it) and be grateful. This is something that I’ll take home after my adventures in New Zealand. To find the good, or potential for good in all situations, is one of the most useful mindsets I have been forced to develop here. When things go wrong, and they inevitably will, it is unbelievably useful to find that small positive shard amongst all the terror that’s going on. It’s kept me sane throughout this trip, and I’m sure it will continue to do so.

No matter where you are, continue to look for the good amongst the bad. It’s ironically harder to do while you sit safe within your comfort zone, but it’s a mindset that must be nurtured if you hope to survive any of the twists that life throws at you. If a 25 year old living out of a bright yellow van in a foreign country can find the good in poor situations, so can you.


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