Things are a little different you know? The nearest village is 7km away, the nearest town of any significance is almost 30km away. You’ll understand then that it’s not all that easy for me to think “right, today I’m going to go somewhere and do this thing.” There’s also the little matter of having to work as often as possible in order to get my days signed off.
I’ve not been to any bars, restaurants, museums or anything even remotely exciting. It’s difficult to think of things that I can come here and write about because I’m essentially doing the same thing every day. I guess that not many people are familiar with orange harvesting, so it probably won’t bore you too much to hear about the average day on the farm.
If you’ve been keeping up with my Instagram account you’ll probably know that I’m regularly up with the sunrise. What with it being close to winter here that usually happens at around 07:30 so it isn’t too painful. The trouble comes much earlier at around 06:00 when the temperature drops to it’s lowest and I get woken up because I’ve got cold feet. I can’t complain too much though, as during the day the highs are still way over 20 degrees.
Once I’ve convinced myself that it’s not too cold to get up, I put on my work clothes, pull on my boots and stumble out into the day. Bastien and Yves are usually up before me and almost always offer me a cup of tea as soon as they see me. Then it’s time for some breakfast, an egg sandwich or some oats is usually enough to keep me going through the morning’s work.
As soon as we’re all up, fed and dressed it’s off to the fields. Our personal equipment consists of a bag and a pair of gloves. In the field, there are ladders and a tractor with three bins on a trailer. For the next two, three, and sometimes four hours we’re picking oranges. The job itself is pretty simple, if we fill a bin with oranges, we get some money. At the moment we’ve been cleaning up rows, which means somebody else has been through before us and picked all the easy to reach oranges and have left the tops, middles and bottoms of the trees untouched. This is good for us as it’s given us a decent amount of trees to pick clean.
Being the little man of the group, I spend the most of my time picking the bottoms of the trees and battling my way through to the middle to pick the big oranges that are tucked away out of sight. I’ve had a couple of days on the ladders up at the tops and I’m slowly getting used to the fact that once you’re about halfway up, the weight is going to take it’s toll on the tree and you’ve got a high chance of falling a little bit further into the tree. Once we’ve cleared our trees, it’s time to move the tractor up the field and start picking again.
Once we’ve filled a couple of bins, we break for lunch and respite from the heat for an hour or two before going back to the fields for another bin. The sun sets at 17:30 which means it gets too dark to pick anywhere from an hour to half an hour before and it’s time to head home to relax with a beer or six and think about a plan for dinner. Once we’ve had our fill, the rest of the evening is spent either desperately trying to get an internet connection, staring aimlessly into the fire or watching a movie or T.V. show on somebody’s laptop. Almost every night, each of us is in our own tent by 22:00 and our day is done.
Alright, so it’s still not very exciting but I’d say all of us are enjoying our lives at the moment. Sure, we’re all longing for a hot shower and when we’re eating our rice and beans or pasta with sauce there’s a conversation about some hot chips, or going into town for a pub lunch and a cold pint but there are no real complaints. At least, not yet anyway!