Melons Melons Melons

I have honestly never seen so many melons in my life.

Like the previous week, Saturday had taken a couple of days to recover from and Monday we didn’t get our lay-in. There is always a first time for everything, and this week I had to ask a work colleague if they were responsible for me waking up next to a McDonald’s breakfast.

The first couple of days were spent packing watermelons; I wouldn’t be surprised if we did hundreds of tonnes over two days. On Monday my job was to look at a conveyor belt for seven hours to make sure that the melons didn’t get stuck or fall off. Tuesday started with throwing watermelons to/at people depending on how big they were to sort them, then after a break I was back to looking at them. I really do think that I have found my calling, and that is throwing and catching melons, though I am terrible at throwing them up into a truck – instead they hit the side of the truck, break and go bloody everywhere then I get moaned at.

We also did a ten hour shift; it got to the point where I was debating whether or not to pretend to collapse to get out of it. Other people were considering taking themselves out with blunt force by melon. Around nine of us sorted 24 trucks.

One thing we were not warned about was how much it hurts to have a melon hurled straight at your hand off of a conveyor belt. During the week I was leaning on a conveyor belt and a melon just flew at me and pinched the skin down and Jesus Christ did that hurt and require several swear words. I also thought that I broke a finger at one point when a melon came at me from out of nowhere

Another injury I had this week is absolutely ridiculous, as in perhaps the most stupid thing I’ve ever been admitted to hospital for. I really over-enthusiastically got into the van for work and smashed my head on the frame – all my body weight going straight for the head. I was OK during the day but the next I had a migraine all day, not helped by the fact that the melons are fluorescent. I went to the hospital and got told that I gave myself whiplash from getting into a car.

Of course, last night we went out, and of course, we are in recovery mode. Yesterday, I went out with some girls from work who wanted to watch the local rugby, then we also went out in the evening at our regular three spots. I came back to the hostel and one of the girls from next door was sleeping in my bed so I hung around for a bit and did my laundry, then ended up going to bed at midday.


Running out of melon-themed titles

Monday, we were back at work. It was one of those days where I was more thankful than normal that we leave the hostel at 10.30am and not 5.30am as last Saturday night took a while to recover from. Our payslips over the past month have failed to cover our rent, yet alone food and beer money, but next week it’s meant to get busy. Friday night someone asked me if I wanted anything from the supermarket and I replied with “a payslip that gives me enough money to last the week,” and the owner of the hostel was stood right next to her. Whoops. There has definitely been a lot of bad timing like that over the past week.

Monday next week we have to pick up watermelons all day so that’s one new back ache to get to terms with, as well as waking up at 5.30am. We managed to work a 5.5 hour shift on Friday which has left the week with 43 work days left to go until I can leave; hopefully it’ll be around the mid-June mark.

It seems as though we aren’t allowed to have nice things or have fun here; once the alcohol ban was lifted, the free-but-not-supposed-to-be-free WiFi was replaced with $2/hour WiFi and no one can connect to. We think that someone accidentally dobbed us all in by complaining that their internet had stopped working when it wasn’t supposed to work anyway. We have gained one good thing: a cat. It turned up on Easter Sunday, no one knows where it came from but it must like all the attention and petting it receives.

Saturday was a retro fancy dress night at one of the bars we frequent. As we weren’t working on Sunday we scooped our watermelons out and made ourselves a nice little cocktail with our contraband stash of cheap wine (my status in what I should’ve been fined for must be at the $3000 mark and haven’t been fined a dollar.) It was a pretty good night out, though my memory is a bit patchy. During the night I bumped into one of my supervisors from work who lost her brother and had no phone battery so I took her back to the hostel to charge her phone so she could ring him. I’m assuming this morning she came back to the hostel because I woke up next to a Macca’s breakfast. There would be some pictures from the night but I’m using my phone data.

I’ve been having a bit of a research on places to visit in Asia, in particular the ones that I don’t know too much about; I want to be getting back in the swing of things and ending up travelling how I was last year. Everyone I’ve spoken to who’s been to South-East Asia has had an absolute blast there, so Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia and Burma are on the cards for next year. I’m also intending to visit China, South Korea and Taiwan, as well as perhaps a tour of India. Within the next month I should be booking flights for going to Tokyo – a direct return flight from Melbourne is £400 which really isn’t bad.  I really am lucky to be able to just ditch the life that everyone expects you to have as in sticking with a job, buying a house etc, and instead pissing around somewhere in the world, enjoying my 20s and just not giving a shit about half the stuff I’m supposed to.

More Melons & More Beer

It looks promising that within the next week or more likely two I’ll be hitting the halfway point of the farm work. It’s frustrating that I’ve been living here for two and a half months and still not quite halfway – I’ve had a couple of shifts this week packing melons and it looks like work is going to pick up soon. We’ve been told since February that work will pick up in a few weeks every time we ask, but now should be the time of year where it actually does.

Because half the hostel left a couple of weeks back, I am #3 on the work list. This also means that not only am I the source of all information regarding food and whether or not it’s ok to eat because I’m a chef, I am the also source of information within this house of how everything works. Anything including explaining why the work list doesn’t mean shit, when work will come, how hot it is, why it’s so hot, why the internet is so slow, why the internet is so shit, what you’ll get fined for and the stuff that has happened so far that I hope we’ve not lost our bonds for – definitely a story for when I’ve left.

Monday night we had a movie night – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and Tuesday We’re the Millers and Step Brothers in the TV room – a glorified shed. The mosquitos here are absolute shits – the little buggers bite through clothes.

On Wednesday we went to the park for a BBQ as there’s still this bloody alcohol ban and was a pretty fun evening. We would’ve done it in the hostel if we were allowed to have fun – it’s an instant $200 bond loss if we get caught drinking in the hostel. Thursday we went out, as well as the regular piss-up on Saturday.

Thursday night was fun; there was a DJ night at the bar we usually go to but we got there too late, instead we came back to the hostel and got told off once again. Luckily I was upstairs having a cheese toastie when the bollocking took place so I maintain my good-behaviour status. The alcohol ban is supposed to be lifted on Tuesday but depending on our behaviour over this weekend so it will probably get lifted like never.

Before going out on Saturday there were a few drinking games as well as a game of twister that someone picked up from the Reject Shop – just a few dotted stickers to put on the floor. On Saturdays we go to a few bars – Chlamydia (not the actual name but easier to say), Tav (once again not the actual name) and then to a club that gives out vouchers for one free drink and we usually somehow manage to get a few.

This coming week kind of sounds promising for work; we are definitely working tomorrow what will hopefully be a long shift because of the bank holiday. Apparently from the 22nd or something the melons will be getting picked like crazy.

From Planting Melons to Packing Them

This week started with weeding; the same as Sunday. The owner of the hostel volunteered me to ride shotgun and navigate the journey, my directions being along the lines of “it’s left here or the next one… its the next one… oh shit slow down it’s this one… it’s the next roundabout SHIT IT’S THIS ONE.” This time I did not have the previous nights antics to blame for it being such a horrendous shift, nor had I woken up in my work clothes just in case I’d be running late during the morning. We were crawling through the field picking weeds for five and a half hours which was soul destroying.

Tuesday was back to packing melons. It’s an easy job – the guys have it easier than the girls who put melons in a box. Wednesday and Saturday were the same. What happens is melons get brought into the packing shed on this conveyor belt which weighs, then drops them at a certain point down a ramp where we stand to pack them. Depending on how big they are depends on how many per box. I’m back working tomorrow and after that will be 48 days left to go, having worked 40. It feels great to be in the 40s as it’s nearing the halfway point, and then I’lll be counting down the work days until I leave this hostel and never come back here again.

Check out my melons – they’re actually toad fruits – like a honeydew melon on the inside.

Last night was the regular hostel piss-up; I’m getting bored of visiting the same three places every Saturday. As we still have a drinking ban because we sneak alcohol in the hostel, we poured beer into tinted bottles and played a couple of drinking games indoors where there is no CCTV we completely followed the rules regarding this.

During the week I’ve had a bit of a Harry Potter marathon – it’ll be completed today with a Domino’s during the last movie. After having worked on farms for a couple of months I know what to do if someone gets bitten by a snake (well I hope I do) and I was watching the second movie. I just wanted to shout at the screen when Harry was sodding around after getting bitten.

Over the past couple of weeks we’ve started to notice that it is autumn. By autumn, I mean around the 30 degree mark – it is still hotter than the middle of the summer in the UK, but it no longer feels as though we are living in the depths of hell, though I’m still waiting for it to be t-shirt weather and not vest weather. The Northern Queensland autumn is making a UK heatwave look cute. I’ve also lately had new roommates – apart from the two of us who arrived during the first week, the seven others in the room are new. It’s like being in bloody Germany at the moment – five out of the nine of us are German, and there’s usually a German or two visiting the room.

I was going to go to Bali after farming, but at the moment the cheap flights are at inconvenient times – Townsville doesn’t seem to be the best place to fly to Bali. If I were to land at say 3pm in Bali, it’d be a $500 flight with a layover. Instead, I’m looking at doing a tour around the red centre and then try Bali another time.

Cyclone Debbie and a Great Big Piss-Up

A friend in England replied to my snapchats on Tuesday saying “what the fuck are you doing?”

Well, seven of us from the hostel ended up in a shelter for a couple of nights, and consequently ended up appearing in the Brisbane Times, BBC News and in the news on Belgian TV.

There was a category five cyclone destined to hit the town that I’m staying in on Monday so we had a choice of evacuating to Cairns, going to a cyclone shelter or hoping that the hostel lives up to its cyclone rating. Bearing in mind that I could not be arsed to pack and leave for Cairns and that the ceiling fan in our cyclone-rated room blows our door open, I ended up going to the shelter where we spent 40 hours. I had literally ten minutes to pack so I packed a pillow case instead of a bag because it was easier.

What I usually end up getting in trouble for is making a sarcastic comment at the wrong time, and it could’ve happened in the shelter. A journalist from the Brisbane Times asked me if I was still expected to pay my rent in the hostel, to which I laughed and made a sarcastic comment. Quite glad that we only had a picture on the internet. As for the BBC News, I now have celebrity status in the hostel as I was on BBC News and BBC Worldwide, and it seems like the only thing that they showed was me saying that I wanted a bed and a food – to be fair, that usually is the case whether or not I’m locked in a shelter.

7 News Australia tried to interview us, too. Looking back, it would’ve amused us to just pretend that we didn’t know that there was a cyclone coming and that we were just squatting until we got kicked out because it was free accommodation.

The shelter wasn’t that exciting; we were just tracking Debbie and playing Uno. She’s received a fair bit of abuse from us, and if anyone had overheard us and not known that it wasn’t a human we have been speaking about all week, we’d be in shit. We were tracking it for the whole time; it was delayed by a few hours five times, then it was destined to miss us completely. Domino’s was still open, and someone ordered a pizza and had it delivered through the window.

One good thing has come from this: Debs did not ruin my seven week Sunday Domino’s streak.

The days after the cyclone there were quite a few people leaving the hostel which meant going for a drink. One drink turned into several more and the best night out that I’ve had in this town – it is one very good story, though for now the less I write about it on the internet, the better. There is still an alcohol ban that I don’t quite understand in the hostel after the non-visit from Debbie which has quite obviously not been complied to. Whilst in bed and still drunk on Friday morning, I was asked if I could drive to one of the farms to replace someone working – luckily I had a more acceptable reason for saying no other than the fact that it would have been illegal for me to drive there. Instead, I ended up doing a short shift planting.

We also had the regular Saturday night piss-up – I had work the next day and was intending to be sensible. Thankfully, it wasn’t that hot compared to usual during the shift as it would’ve been a struggle – we really were not sensible.