Above: Zebra Vineyard
Like the Cheryl Crow song, I have been soaking up Central Otagos 85 degree sunshine all week. As a vineyard worker, my Portuguese skin just might be the darkest it has been in a long while. The days of work are long and good, I sure sleep well at night and that's no joke. Recently my sister Lauren has decided to make the 8,000+ mile journey down and visit her brother, here in Cromwell. I'm pumped up and have been anticipating her arrival since she mentioned it earlier this week.
Above: Glove tan line.
Even though Summer just went into full effect 3 days ago, it's the dreaded season of the lay-off. As the vineyards wind down on the prep work necessary to produce straight, healthy vines, people lose their jobs (most times temporarily) for a 2-3 week span until January when the vines have grown to full height. 10 days ago I was made crew supervisor of my Argentinian coworkers. There is no pay raise attached to this esteemed honor (sarcasm) just more responsibility and now what I have learned, job security. Starting last week, ethnic groups of people began to get laid off. You are probably thinking right now: “laid off by ethnic groups, what kind of racist farm is this?” - but rest assured that's not the case. Usually, groups of people from a specific country apply for jobs at Zebra Vineyard, then get laid off in the same fashion according to the overall groups perceived productivity. The (4) Argentinians were the first to go, then the (3) Malaysians on Tuesday which gave me a bit of a fright as there were only so many folks left. Then Thursday the (2) Czechs were told there was no work left as well as the (2) Chinese.
On Thursday I was almost certain I would be in for a cut of sorts, maybe shorter term as I had seniority, but come Friday the boss told me that I would be the last temporary worker standing alongside the (2) year round middle aged Kiwi couple- possibly with work for the entire low season of now until a few days after Christmas. Praise God! On Friday I was given a unspoken compliment of being trusted to work completely alone for the first time ever with a empty vineyard as the boss left early to attend a charity golf event. I'm very thankful for the now* healthy body and ability to work. Ok, enough work stuff....
There is a NZ online classified section that is a hybrid between the highly regulated Ebay and the peer to peer easy going Craigslist called 'Trademe.' Dad imparted me with this intrinsic love of shopping around for the best prices to save money, on Trademe they are found. I have recently picked particular items based upon the location of the Trademe seller as an excuse to hitch-hike to/explore that town and meet its people. Last Saturday after winning two auctions for a guitar and pair of shoes collectively, I made the journey to Queenstown. I was picked up outside of Cromwell by 3 stoners in there beat up 4x4 truck that was living on a prayer. Cruising down the highway we only crossed the median a few times at highspeed until the truck began to sputter. The stonies were heading to Queenstown to get a new fuel filter and the engine wasn't getting the energy it need to continue forward. At one point the truck choked and sputtered- to which the driver responded by going off road on a dirt trail and doing donuts (cranking the steering wheel to one side and pushing the gas peddle to the floor causing the car to travel in a circular, donut like maneuver). The donut was only marginally successful so the passenger had to go underneath the car and manually pump the gas. We were on are way. Upon arrival in Queenstown, I bid them farewell had Venison and portabella mushroom sandwich for lunch (6 bucks dad!) then began to walk to the sellers house, who happened to be a friendly Brazilian guy. He and his sister tried to make me lunch etc, and we had a good conversation. I picked up the beautiful lightly used Vans shoes and headed on my way to collect my guitar. The guitar seller suggested we meet at the Liquor store to which I obliged. During this time my phone kept vibrating, but I was busy looking for the guy in the blue truck. I thought I found the seller, but it was actually a 16 year old student that tried desperately to convince me to buy him booze. I told him I was a youth pastor of sorts, but that before Christ had really changed my life, in high school my friends and I did something similar to what he was trying to do. I was beginning to share Christ with him when I was stopped by separate a car full of guys. They said “you're a youth pastor?,” and I explained to them what I do in Auckland with Bible College etc. I shortly found out that they too were Christians and invited me to church with them. Boom, instant 4 new friends! Fast forward 10 minutes, had my new guitar in hand and then checked my phones messages. Little did I know, I had overpaid the Brazilian guy and he asked me to come back over and get the cash that I left there. Coming back to his house, I found out more about his families history and that they were Christians... When I shared that I was one as well they invited me to dinner with them for legit Brazilian food. Hitch hiking back to Cromwell I was able to talk about Christ with a scientist and a doctor. It was a great day quick hitchhiking pickups, good food, great conversations and potentially 6 new friends.
As I type to you today I'm sitting on the stunning Wanaka waterfront for the first time, having hitched here to pick up a shirt with a Czech guy named Auto. What a great Saturday this has proved to be. After Church tomorrow I will be making authentic Chinese dumplings with my coworkers from Hong Kong. Catch yall soon.
Just made it home in a car driven by a Frenchman named Mikkel. he got a speeding ticket so I insisted on buying him dinner. After dinner he dropped me off at my house where I invited him in for tea. We (Pendreighs) collectively invited him to church tomorrow and a place to stay tonight but he turned down both. He was a really nice guy, hopefully the spontaneous hospitality made a impact on him- I was frustrated that I didn't have a Gideon Bible to give him...