|Siblings and beer. Happy days (and gulps).|
They landed at midnight in Christchurch and what a greeting they received. Less than two hours after they got off the plane they were already sipping New Zealand beer in the rhythm of a 5.3 earthquake and a loud party at the hostel. Although the party went on right until people started to leave for work, we managed to catch a few hours' sleep and then we went for a walk through town. They opened lots of new streets and did a plenty of renovation work since my last visit, so it was interesting for me, as well. I can't say the city centre rebuilt with shipping containers is the most aesthetic one I've seen, but given the shaky circumstances, it's a pretty good solution - cheap, quick and easy to build and probably very safe.
Sunshine and slivovice
The next day we went to Akaroa and the girls seemed to soak in the sunlight as if they never seen it before. Can't really blame them after months of winter in the Czech Republic. Akaroa was a sweet place to spend the day. Of course we finished off in great style - with a carton of beer and a bottle of slivovice, a home made spirit distilled from plums. Slivovice is the pride of Moravia and the best way to use your alcohol allowance if you travel to NZ (you can bring up to 3,3 litres of spirits).
After a nicely spent welcome weekend we had to start dealing with practical things. Applying for an IRD number, opening a bank account, but most importantly, looking for work. The original plan was to do cherry picking in Central Otago, but the weather has been really bad this season and as a consequence the harvest was postponed, thousands of people didn't find work and we decided not to even try going there. We considered Motueka, but apparently there's not much to do there, either (until apple picking starts in February), and in the end we landed in Blenheim again. I know I said many times that I'm reluctant to spending too much time here, but what can you do when you already know people, you know where to go, who to talk to, you need money, and after one phonecall you get a job?
So here we are, working in vineyards yet again. It's not bad, though. We're doing "skirting", which means tidying up under the plants, getting rid of the vines that grow too low, and readying them for netting. It's not as boring as wire-lifting, not as straining and hazardous as pruning, and while we're not exactly enjoying it, it's quite a good job. Actually, the girls do seem to be enjoying it. Fresh air, sunshine, nice green vineyards, no stress, lots of time to clear the mind... who wants to be sitting in an office?
We'll probably stay for a week or two, till we run out of work, and then we'll most likely move to Motueka, where apple picking is due to start in February. There's a two-week window I'll use for a trip to the west coast. Can't leave my pushbike rust for too long!
As for the girls, I don't know what they're planning, but they seem to be seriously keen on seaside locations. Perhaps they'll go to Kaikoura again, considering how our first stopover ended up: soaked by rain on the peninsula walk, too cloudy to take pictures, more tourists than seals, cliffs not accessible at high-tide... this calls for a revisit.
To sum up, the new arrivals had a pretty eventful (at least alcohol-wise) welcome week and are settling down nicely. I'm sure they'll love New Zealand as much as I do!