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Waimate. Possibly the actual middle of nowhere. But I still got to spend the weekend there, and you know what – it was suprisingly good!

First off, the motel had a pamphlet with a historic walk in it. So rather than have to fluff around with Google Maps, the Historic Trust NZ website, I could just set off on Saturday morning and find them! Which I did, with only a small amount of difficulty.

The trouble started because obviously when I look at the Historic Trust website it gives me an exact address. This pamphlet did not. Some were obvious. Clearly the oldest (still operating) paint shop in New Zealand was going to be a paint shop on the corner of those 2 streets. But when said historic place is located by trying to interpret a map (so I know it’s between these 2 streets, but not sure where between them), and a painted over sign (thanks you Fritz’s Cycle Works*!) on the other side of the road.

I walked up and down the road trying to figure out where Victoria House was. Eventually I gave up, went in to a shop (and may have purchased a Christmas gift) and asked. She had no idea (recent arrival), but thought the owners of the bridal shop down the road might. So I walked down the road to ask, and ended up spending probably about 20 minutes in the bridal shop while we tried to figure it out. During this time I also got a lunch recommendation, and they even phoned the information centre for me to see if they knew which building it was in. No luck, but they promised to give me a call when they figured it out 😀

By this time it was (obviously!) lunch time, so I took the recommendation and had lunch at ARTrio. From memory I had a potato pastry thing, but the real highlight was when I ordered a coffee (this is new, when did I start liking coffee?) and it came with a picture of me on top!

After lunch, one of the cafe staff expressed their concern that I might not be able to find any vegetarian food in the town and also gave me a pineapple pastry thing (also delicious!).

Then I snarfed my way through the town, finding huge numbers of placques everywhere, so that made me happy too 🙂

*Apparently the sign was painted over at the start of WWI when the word ‘fritz’ became outlawed.


In honour of the epic cold I’m starting to get over, I’ve started compiling a list of things I really didn’t think about before starting this job.

1. When you get sick there isn’t anyone to cover for you, unless you happen to get sick on a week where we have an extra person. We all get one week off every 5 weeks, and there’s 4 of us on the road team, so usually, once during that 5 week period we have all 4 of us on the road. Also, there’s 3 jobs (explainers, banking, demo), so we’ve basically got an extra person that week. Otherwise, we travel all over the country, so we can’t logistically have casual staff in every town we go to who are able to cover for us we find ourselves one (wo)man down. If you get really sick, someone either has to come back from their week off to cover for you, or our operations manager/director/education manager has to come cover. It doesn’t really work. Usually we just end up working sick.

2. Internet coverage is expensive and not that great. Obviously I move location every couple of days, so I can’t have one internet connection set up in my house (well we do at home, for the week I’m home, also for the other people who live there :p). So mobile internet it is. When I first started I was only on contract for 8 months, and the minimum contract time was either a year or 2, so I didn’t want to sign up for something I was going to have to pay for a lot longer than I might be using, so I went for the prepay, which is about $60 for 1GB per month. Probably should have upgraded when I got a full time contract, but I didn’t!

3. Laundry. How much do you think it costs to do a load of laundry plus dryer? In 2 years of working here I’ve been charged between nothing, and $10 per load (usually includes the dryer). Chalk it up to one of those little extras.

4. Not all motel/ motel rooms are created equal. Sometimes you end up sleeping in the lounge, being kept awake by people watching tv until all hours of the morning, drifting off to the sound of snoring all around you, and then being rudely awoken from your slumber by someone turning all the lights on to go to the toilet. The best part is that the person who does ALL of those things is the person who demands a room with a double bed and always gets it because we get so sick of his whinging all the time.

5. I’m effectively living with 3 people I don’t really have any say in. Luckily we mostly get on, but there are always going to be things you don’t like about people, and those are really annoying when you’re tired and sick of people! Can you imagine living full time with people you don’t get to choose!

6. People are always saying to me that I must get to see the country. Which to some extent is true. But not like people think we do. Our average work day is usually 10-12 hours long, including the drive to the next school. It averages out at 8 if you include the week we don’t work, but when you’re starting work about 7.30, and not arriving at the next location till 5 or 6 that evening, you don’t really want to do anything but eat, sleep, and catch up on friends lives. BUT, we get to spend weekends in some pretty cool/different places, and we don’t tend to work weekends, so I’ve gotten to spend weekends in places like Auckland (obviously!), Fairlie (Google maps is your friend!), Invercargill (went to Stewart Island that weekend!), Tapawera, Nelson (good for Christmas shopping at the markets!), Kerikeri (did a bus trip to Cape Reinga that weekend :D), and Te Kaha (guess how much cellphone/internet reception there is there: none!).

Luckily I’m still really enjoying this job (well most of the time), and I should also point out that when I wrote this I was  on week 5 of rotation when we usually only do 4 weeks at a time, so it’s no wonder I’m exhausted!!

So, we were at school, packing all our stuff away into the truck, and it was after school. Only one kid helping us. Now, most of our stuff is not hugely heavy, but it’s not light either, as long as you remember that inertia and momentum (see, I know some science words!) are your friends, it’s not too difficult to manhandle, or you know, persuade things to go where you want them to.

Added to that the fact that I had been doing this job for a while, so had built up the required muscles (mostly) to do what’s needed.

Me and this kid are pushing one of our heavier things down the ramp to the truck, and suddenly he comes out with this little gem.

“Wow, you’re really unwomanly”

The sad thing wasn’t that I just got called unwomanly (seriously, where does a 10 year old kid get that phrase from?!?!), it was that he meant it as a compliment! There was this crazy tone of admiration and awe when he said it! And to be fair to him, I’m pretty sure he clarified and added that he meant I was really strong, at least that was the impression that I got from him!

The problem was not that I needed to get down from the tower, but that I need to get back up into it.


I was out bringing the laundry in and managed to lock myself out of the place we were staying at that weekend. Of course, being me, my cell phone was upstairs in the locked house, we weren’t staying in a motel (so no spare key handy in the motel office!) and the downstairs bathroom window only opens about 10 cm (4 inches for my American readers). Also, the phone number of the owner was also locked inside.

Thankfully it was a bit of an apartment complex, so I go next door to see if anyone has a spare key or the owners phone number (there’s a note here saying please drive quietly down the drive late at night or the owners get irate phone calls, ergo, someone must have their number.)

Sadly, the owner is apparently in Europe currently. That rules that option out!

There’s still hope though, it’s a warm day and I didn’t close the upstairs bathroom window after showering that morning, so it’s open, and you can open it all the way out. Closer to a metre (3.2 feet), so much closer to being able to fit me though it!

Thankfully, the next neighbour with a car in the driveway has a ladder. So I manage to borrow the ladder to attempt to crawl into a window roughly 7 metres up. Did I mention the ladder is probably closer to 5 metres? Well it was.

After completing my masters degree in engineering to get the [insert expletive here] ladder open and extended (it’s not like my Dads ladder!), I of course realise that there is not a chance in heaven that I will be able to get from the top of the ladder to the window. Not without launching myself off it anyway! You’ll all be happy to know that I’m smarter than that!

The next door neighbours to us pulled up in their car, and I successfully managed to ask one of them to help me to see if we could extend the ladder up by bending it (at the moment it’s like an upside down V shape, and I know some ladders you can straighten out for added length, like my Dads!). Obviously I need someone to hold it for me if I want to do that though.

I barely have time to explain what’s happened and the man tells me his other name is Spiderman, is half way up the ladder and dangling through the bathroom mirror. (I should probably note here that the owner of the ladder said he was sorry he couldn’t help but he was on home detention and had a bracelet on so couldn’t leave the house. Hopefully him lending me the ladder will earn him some good karma!)

Spiderman opens the door from the inside and I’m back inside with the laundry. And yes, I returned the ladder!

I’m pretty sure that’s minus one point for the unwomanlyness, which is another story for another day.

I was at dinner with Mahinaarangi the other night (one of the best parts of my job!), and we somehow ended up talking about my bosses wheat allergy, and how scary it was when he was still trying to figure out what it was he was allergic to. That of course (for me anyway!) lead to the day it all went wrong.

First off all, we were seriously in the middle of nowhere. Not quite as bad as Naseby, but still a while away from anywhere. Google tells me 2 hours away on extremely windy roads (and I know they were doing road works on at least part of that road).

We’d had a relatively light teaching day, and had had some lunch, and started packing the truck. Obviously the boss man didn’t know about his wheat allergy yet, and while I can’t remember what he’d had for lunch, it seems likely that it had wheat in it now.

So, I’m packing stuff up in the hall, the boss man is the go between man, between the truck and the hall, and 2IC is in the truck putting things away.

Now, when I say the boss man has a wheat allergy, I mean like a real allergy, not that his stomach can’t process it.

Not terribly suddenly, but suddenly enough that it’s scary, the bossman is laying on the ground, in and out of consciousness (thank heavens he wasn’t on the loadlifter on the truck), and 2IC is seriously considering using the epipen the boss man carries with him (apparently still useful even when you don’t know what the allergy is to!). I’m talking to the office lady (my favourite people in the world!) who rings the doctor down the road (thank heavens for small towns!), who eventually show up with oxygen, connect him up to that, and call the ambulance (the next bay around has one).

Boss man gets taken off in the ambulance to the nearest hospital (thankfully in the same direction we’re going in!), and 2IC and I finish packing up the truck.

But wait, there’s more!

2IC is making sure the truck is all ready to go, walking down the side of the truck in full fluoro vest, orange shirt, plus he’s pretty tall, so not exactly easy to miss, when a school bus drives past, and manages to hit him in the head with the wing mirror. I thank the heavens that he’s not unconscious, just has a minor headache, because we have 2 vehicles, the truck and the car, and I’m only legally allowed to drive the car. Also, last time I checked, I can’t drive 2 vehicles at once! So he then has to drive an hour or so to the next town in the truck (it probably wasn’t really that far, but we were both driving pretty slowly, as I said, it was WINDY, and I suspected that the only ambulance in the area was in front of me! Also that we don’t really have backup staff. The closest airport was now about a 3-4 hour drive away, and if we needed someone to cover, how would they even get there! So if something (else) happens, it’s really, really, it is really all going to go wrong!)

I get to the next town, find 2IC, and he’s managed to park the truck at the wrong school. And to make matters worse, it’s now stuck in the mud. The nearest tow truck is probably still 2 hours away, and we don’t really want to wait and/or pay for the tow truck driver (the truck’s pretty big, you can’t just pull it out!). Thankfully this is farming country, so we manage to get a front end loader to pull us out (and all it cost us was a few beers :D). We park the truck up at the right school, and then head to the motel we’re staying in.

Just for the record, I don’t usually have to share a room. Perks of being to only woman on the team. So a 2 bedroom unit is fairly standard for us. But this being the middle of nowhere, there is really only one place to stay. And they’re completely booked out. So we get a room. Showers/kitchen in a separate building. One room. For 3 of us. And the room isn’t exactly huge either. It’s basically 3 beds (something to be thankful for I guess!) and a bit of space for our suitcases.

Plus then, obviously, the nearest hospital isn’t really in this town, it’s half an hour down the road! So 2IC then gets to go and pick the boss man up from the hospital in the middle of the night once they’ve released him.

I think we all slept well that night, even if 2IC snores!!

I know it’s not a post day, but this place deserves a post of its own! Sunday night I got picked up from the airport, and we didn’t arrive at our motel for the night until about 10.30. So we were all pretty tired.

My boss rocked on up to the office before we arrived (I was helping to navigate in the truck), apparently the guy had no idea we were supposed to be arriving. Luckily there weren’t any other people staying at this place, so we still got 2 rooms.

Me and my colleague lucked out and got the ‘good’ room. And when I say good I mean the one without cockroaches. In our beds. Plus ours had a heater! Of course the heater was as loud as a truck, and didn’t seem to produce any heat, but it succeeded in keeping us awake most of the night. I finally fell asleep after putting on another couple of layers of clothing and filling up my hot water bottle, but I did NOT get enough sleep to work on the next day! Just to cap it off, the tap in the sink had more pressure than the shower, and went cold about half way through my shower 😦

The ironic thing: in the notes we had on the place, apparently a previous staff member had recommended this place!

So now we get to Tuesday. The notes for Tuesday’s accommodation read: “Doesn’t look great, but not a lot of choice here” so I’m all ready for another crappy nights accommodation.

But I was pleasantly surprised! Our motel room had a working quiet heater that was incredibly efficient, the beds had electric blankets, and although the beds were both in the lounge, the bathroom had a shower that had some pressure (and hot water!) and nice soap and shampoo and stuff!

Of course come about 6pm we were starving, so we headed into the town of Te Aroha, and as we were walking along the footpath I noticed that there was music playing. At first I thought it was just from one shop, but as we continued along it kept playing, and kept playing, and kept playing! Eventually we found an open restaurant called Ironique, which was AMAZING! I had the moroccan lamb which was delicious, and ginormous! Enough for my lunch today as well 😀 Mostly so that I could have room for dessert which was baileys bread and butter pudding, which didn’t look as good as the sticky date pudding, but was very good! (And the Russian fudge that we had for lunch today was insanely good too!)

So yes, you should all go to Te Aroha! (We stayed at Te Aroha Motel which I can recommend if you get on well with your co travellers!) (They also have a bookshelf there and I got 2 books :D)

So at my work we have this big truck. And I’m not kidding about the big bit! We use it to carry all our stuff around the country. So every school we get to, we have to unpack it, and then pack it up at the end again. It’s much easier when we’re at a school for a few days, because unpacking it, teaching all day, packing it up and driving to the next day every day for a week (or 4 or 5) is kinda tiring, as I’m sure you can imagine!

So anyway, today, I managed to completely unpack the entire truck by myself! Which I’ve never done before! (OK I had help with a couple of things, but only because it’s almost impossible to get these things on/off by yourself. Also I finally figured out how to easily undo the straps we use to secure things to the walls of the truck 😀

And the biggest thing? Nothing fell off (an eternal fear of mine) and no one got hurt!

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