The Adventures of a Part Time Professional Gypsy (and her ginormous teddy thing)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

One Time, At Bush Camp...

I was quite impressed with my hitching efforts as I pulled up for induction at 7am that Aprily Monday morning. I'd been on the road for a while and had nothing that resembled clean clothes let alone interview attire but they let me in anyway... What I stumbled into I wasn't quite prepared for.

There were 17 of us all up. 2 Kiwis, a 56 year old woman and a random mix of youngster Aussies. Have I mentioned before that too many Aussies scare me? [ahhh shivers!] After a brief introduction it was challenge time - some strategising, some heights tests, some harness activity.... it was all new to me - I even had to ask if it mattered that I'd put the harness on inside out?! By the time we got on to knot knowledge I was just about ready to do a runner - I can't even tie a good old granny knot!

We lost 2 inductees that Monday night. Neither of them gave much explanation. One even left in tears. I spent most of that first night job hunting...

I survived the Tuesday's leap of faith and 20ish meter pulley threading. I survived Wednesday's canoe and heights rescues and by Thursday I was amazed that I was one of the 9 that remained. I even moved into more permanent accommodation - It was only a shipping container but it was a massive step up from the tent I'd lived in for weeks before 'the camp'.

Week one as a newbie was rough - I got up on the abseil tower and stared blankly at the ropes for what must have been 20 minutes while one of the managers painstakingly assessed me on my set-up. I failed rock climbing tie-offs. Twice. I failed pretty much every hard skill there was to fail, but somehow I made it through the week. And the next one. And before I knew it I'd passed all my assessments, including the soft skills, and was handed a dark blue "outdoor activities instructor" shirt and a contract.

I only planned to stay a little while - I mean Spain awaited, as did the 200 odd countries I've yet to visit - but I lasted the whole term and even came back from New Zealand for a second... 5 months later I'm still here and heading into a third. And if you think that's impressive then I should tell you that even with my complete lack of coordination and previous lack of all things outdoor instructory; I haven't killed anyone yet!


Monday, September 26, 2011

Temporary Employmentedness

Where was I....? Hmmm...? Tamworth - that's right stuck in Tamworth! The hellhole that is Tamworth. Chicken farmers. Foreigners. More chicken farmers. A big guitar. Nothing else. Nothing. I no longer had hopes. No longer had dreams. No longer had money. No longer had faith in mankind. I suppose I was alive and I should at least be grateful for that but Tamworth doesn't exactly make you feel very glad-to-be-aliveish...

I spent the morning job hunting and trying to find direction then grabbed my bags and headed out to the highway. I was going in whichever direction the first car was going. I knew I needed to get away from that place! I raised my thumb to the hitch when the german receptionist ran out after me. "I have job for you. Come quick. Okay?" I followed her back into the hostel and she passed me the phone.

"Well, I need someone to help me with my kids and horses" said the friendly lady on the other end of the phone.  "Do you have any experience with children?" I went into details of the years of random childcare my life's accumulated and I heard her smile. I don't know exactly how you hear someone smile, but she did. "And what about horses?" "Well... I owned a horse for 8 or 9 days once..."

Duke, my favouritest of the horses
Within the hour Renee arrived and I was off to a little town in some other nowhere land and I became a horserearing nanny lady. That was Wednesday. By Friday I was quite settled and was all packed and ready for the weekend's camping horse show when I decided I'd probably better check my mail quickly  and let mum know I wasn't dead (She worries sometimes). I scanned through the spam and found a "no subject" one that began "Hi, Thank you for your application. I would like to invite you to our induction week commencing on Monday 18th April (next Monday) at 07h30 sharp."

I'd briefly met an English girl back in Bellengen who worked at a bush camp (whatever that is). It sounded fascinating so I scribbled the name of the place down on a scrap of paper and stuffed it into my pack. Stuck in Tamworth I'd stumbled upon it, googled it and found that applications for new staff had closed just a week earlier. I sent them a CV anyway... This was their response.

Now came the dilema: I'd just started on the horse farm and the family was lovely and and and... but this Bush Camp induction sounded way more exciting; even if the email didn't even include my name and was a little general - let's be honest, it's just an induction; hundreds of people might be invited.

I stared at the computer for hours (probably only 3 and a half minutes in real world time) and then went looking for Renee - she was busy strapping the kids into the car - they were all set for camping. I gulped. And then gulped again louder. I just mentioned the Bushcamp and the kids were cheering so loud from their memories of the camp that Renee marched me inside and made my mind up for me.

We tried to call the camp. Answering machine. It was almost 5pm. It was a Friday. I returned an email "See you Monday".

I unpacked my belongings from the car and bid the kids farewell. Renee left me with their house and their ute and their horses and organised me a lift to the highway for dawn-o'clock Sunday morning and then they were out of there.

 Before I knew it I was unemployed again and hitching back into the unknown, headed for a little town called Tea Gardens.

Harry... the dog who thought he was a horse.