I am now a ghostbuster. I now get to spend about 14 hours a week cleaning the hostel that I am staying at, in return for accommodation and free internet. I get to walk around with a vacuum cleaner strapped to my back as I make my way around the hostel. I look just like a ghostbuster, and old cleaners of the hostel even refer to the job as ghost busting.
The biggest mistake I could have ever made during my traveling was not applying for my New Zealand working holiday visa before I entered the country. I lodged my application almost a month ago and still have not been approved. I had to undergo a blood test, chest x-ray and full physical before they would even consider my request. Now I wait. Every day I check my email, waiting to hear an answer…any answer. To double check I go to the immigration website and see the unchanging message: working holiday visa status pending. I even called the office today, realized I was in a queue of 38 people and am still waiting for someone to get back to me. To be fair, I think the Christchurch earthquake has seriously backed things up and made things take longer. But here I am….waiting….no means to make money and secretly hoping and praying that everything is going to work out. Every day I meet people that have jobs or are looking for jobs, all cozy with their working holiday visas. I would give anything just to be part of that club.
But I can’t complain. I am ghostbustng and thus do not have to pay for a place to live. Cleaning the hostel has been a bit of an experience for me. I’ve now crossed the line from being a tourist here to a resident. Half the hostel is full of people just passing through Queenstown for a few days. The other half consists of people that have been here awhile, working in various jobs all over the city. I am sharing a room with some of these people and couldn’t be happier. It’s a collection of backpackers living in somewhat harmony. I can leave my valuables out and not worry about them being stolen. There is a sense of respect for each other in the room because we have to live with each other. I’ve got people now that greet me when I come home and ask me how my day has been. I’ve had the opportunity to somewhat unpack my bag a bit. I sleep top bunk above an 18 year old English guy named Alan who works at the bungee company in town and has the most ridiculously long curly hair you will see on a white guy. He keeps things positive with his young energy. In another bed is a lovely woman from New Zealand named Jo who is going to university in Queenstown. She and I get on really well and I have enjoyed learning more about New Zealand culture from her. In another bed is Alex, a long term traveler like me from England who has a mathematics degree. I don’t meet too many travelers whom I have that in common with. Every night he makes the most delicious looking meals as he patiently puts a good solid hour into his cooking every night. There are also other long-term people here from Ireland, Germany, Wales, Holland, Canada Australia and Israel.
Today as I was bent over a toilet scrubbing it to shiny perfection I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. Here I am…a highly qualified and experienced mathematics teacher and former union leader now cleaning for no money. And I am happy. It’s quite the learning experience, starting to see how a hostel is run. Do I enjoy cleaning up people’s trash and finding things like a dirty pair of underwear under a bed? Not particularly, but I do enjoy meeting people from all over and having conversations with them about New Zealand. I give them suggestions on fun things do in Queenstown and the surrounding areas. I share my love of the country with them. I get on well with the owner of the hostel, a man named Kent who was kind enough to give me the ghost busting job in the first place. So kind in fact that he has asked his fiancé to hook me up with another job. So, starting tonight I will be working at a really popular burger place in Queenstown. I’m not entirely sure what my job is yet, but I know the title is called “fluffer”. Someone that keeps people happy and keeps things running smoothly….I guess. Guess I am going to find out. I know what you are thinking: how is it possible I am working without the visa? Well basically I will not be able to get paid until the visa is approved….so I am working for nothing. But at least I am all set up for when the thing gets approved.
Living in New Zealand has become my dream. I love this country, I love the land, and I love the people. If cleaning toilets and fluffing at a burger joint is what I have to do to stay than so be it. We all have to start somewhere. I have spent the last 8 months frolicking around the world and doing whatever I want, it’s about time I contribute to society again. If things work the way I hope then I will do this work but slowly look into becoming a teacher and going through the application process. Who knows, I may find that I prefer working in tourism and will want to stay in that industry. Life is all about the people we meet and the experiences that we have. I am certainly getting an education here. And I am thankful, so thankful to be living in one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in my life.
Yesterday I was sitting by the lake and I overheard a North American couple sitting nearby. The girl said to the guy “could you imagine living here and getting to wake up to this view every morning?” I couldn’t help but smile to myself, knowing that I am living that dream.