Before someone gets all fired up for saying the word “slave”, relax, I don’t mean it literally. Now that that’s clear…
I’ll never say “this is the worst job I’ve ever had” again!
That’s probably one of the only good thing I can find of this experience as an expendable use-and-throw-away farm worker in Oz. What an experience? Yes. What a great experience? Well….
Working on farm work here in Australia puts you in the uneasy situation of being bullied and lied to be farmers and by “working” hostels alike, and having no other option but to shut your mouth, roll your eyes, and press on. We are getting tricked and pushed around, nobody to defend your interests. It’s quite impressive what farmers can do to you when you NEED a job for 88 days and they can decide your pay and if you work or not and when.
The farmer that we work for has told us he treats backpackers as mushrooms: keep them in the dark and feed them shit. That is, don’t let them have info on what’s going on and what to expect and treat them like a cheap expendable work force. And with a broad smirk on his face.
I hope not to generalize all too much but through my own experience and that of friends and people I’ve talked to I think it’s fair to say that you are treated as shit. You are promised a higher salary, more hours and better conditions than you will get 99% of the times, and if you complain you get kicked out. No reasons given nor pay. Just from one moment to the other you are on the streets with your back pack and the little you saved up.
Days go by here without you really knowing. I mean, I’ve been here about 9 weeks already and I can hardly make high lights. Days just come and go. You work. You are off. Wake up early. Dress up in your smelly dirty clothes and go work under the sun for X hours. “Smoko”, 15 minute water break. Lunch break, 30 minutes. Come back. Shower. Cook. And then just be too tired to do much more.
On free days things get a bit livelier. We just drink our boredom away as soon as the bottle shop gives us the chance. Sad but true. I can understand why there is such a high rate of alcoholism in this town!
Days come and go. Again. Stand up. Repeat. Tomato picking. Pulling plastic. Planting tomatoes. Getting called “euro slaves” by the boss. Picking tomatoes. Another guy kicked out for complaining. Restart. Shower. Pasta for breakfast, lunch and dinner, again. Another day goes by. New guys. Planting today. Are we working tomorrow?! Repeat.
The great part of all this: I’ve met some awesome people. Great friends, trench friendships. Suffering together rallies all the people up against the OTHERS. Maybe some will even be friends for life. As you can imagine, you get very close to the people you wake up and eat with every day, specially if you are pushed into the shit together. The hostel life is a cocktail of gossip, ping pong matches, game of thrones episode nights and getting off our faces with rum and whine.
I’ll probably remember how this is the only part of my Southeast Asia-Oz trip that didn’t really work out as I expected (well, this AND almost killing myself on that damn motorcycle in Thailand).
I planned to come here, assure myself a second year VISA, make a good amount of money and be able to bring a lot of that cash back to Spain to pay things off, buy a few gifts and have money for a new start.
But here I am, just 3 weeks from leaving, still quite broke. I just have a great tan and lost some kg. I still look homeless because of my beard challenge and always having dirt under my nails.
But, truth be told, if I get back to Spain alive, in one piece, without needing to sell one of my kidneys I’ll be more than happy. Soon I’ll be back to living off of little and making the most out of my limited options. Back to the exciting day-to-day living and not knowing where I’ll sleep the next day!!!
So I guess if 90% of your trip unwinds in your favor and only a couple of things, though important, don’t, you should still be quite happy. What the hell! I’m feeling great! I wanted to try this and make some extra dollars to be able to extend my trip just a little longer. And I am, albeit just barely!
A new adventure is taking shape in front of me. And my best buddy, Pablo, will be traveling with me. How epic is that? We will be traveling hobos together.
Give me 20+ more days. Give me a bit extra cash to survive in SEA. Give me luck with the hitch hiking. LET ME CATCH THAT PLANE!
Get me out of Bowen and back into the click!