Much Better!

After far too many days of rain, the last 2 days saw….well more rain. BUT, Ruapehu was open for skiing/snowboarding. The conditions weren’t great, but the winds were calm and it had decent visibility. And best of all for me, being middle of the week there were very few people.

Yesterday was my 3rd (half) day on the slopes, and I FINALLY got over the barrier of doing proper turns (rather just going via heels or toes) and navigating slopes in the green areas. Such a good feeling to be able to make full turns and not just go down hills via digging my heels in. Proper snowboarding, here I come!

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It’s a beautiful mornin’

Unfortunately, I was inside working. Clear blue skies were spotted for the first time in 2 weeks, so the owners of the motel took off for the mountain (both are avid snowboarders) shortly after the slopes opened at 9am, leaving me in charge. Being a Monday, the motel was quiet, with only 2 rooms needing work. Since I had all morning to myself, I decided to take my camera along on the journey.

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Working hard for my money

For the first time since June, I received a paycheck!

Certainly not going to get rich working here, but it’s something at least. My housing, internet and laundry costs are fully covered while I’m working, and I’m a pretty good budget eater. I figure since I can cook for myself here quite easily, my food costs are well under $50/week. So that means a profit of at least $110 last week – $108 of which was used for my day of snowboarding. In other words, great! If I can essentially live for free while still doing expensive activities for the rest of the month, that would be fantastic.

The work itself? Each morning my day starts at 9am. Early, I know! For me, I’m up at 7am regardless so it’s pretty relaxed getting going. Morning work is cleaning and preparing rooms – the motel has 18 units. During the weekend the place is usually near capacity, during the week it might be half full. There are 4 different types of housekeeping to be done, the first three are when someone checks out, the 4th is when they are staying for at least another night:

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Snowboarding is fun!

I didn’t realize it at the time, but October the 10th was Thanksgiving back in Canada. So a belated Happy Thanksgiving to all those that celebrated over the weekend! This is where I spent my Monday:

I had the day off from work. The weather was decent (not raining) and I had the entire day, so I headed straight for Mt. Ruapehu. Except this time I wore proper attire.

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Disaster in the making

Not sure if this is making much news up in Canada, but it’s a big thing down here in New Zealand.

This is the container ship Rena, 17km off the coast of New Zealand in the Bay of Plenty. You may recall I spent a decent amount of time in the Bay of Plenty, between Tauranga/Mt. Maunganui, Whakatane and Opotiki. The Rena struck a reef 17km from the shore of Tauranga/Mt. Maunganui last Wednesday and got stuck, along with ripping holes into its hull. Once stuck, oil started leaking from the ship. The ship carries 1700 Tonnes of oil, which compared to a tanker is paltry (On the tiny end of tankers, 10,000 tonnes, at the mega size, 300,000+ tonnes), but considering the distance to shore is still a sizable amount. At first the leak was considered to be in the range of 10-20 tonnes since Wednesday. The leak has now been estimated at 200-300 tonnes so far.

When I was at Mt. Maunganui I spent some time on their lovely beaches.

This is a major summer destination for Kiwis, and summer is just around the corner. It was a lovely place. Unfortunately, the oil reached shore yesterday.

And things are going to get worse before they get better. The weather has gotten severely rougher in the last few hours and the ship is now leaning at an 18 degree angle. Containers are starting to fall off the ship and into the sea, including containers with hazardous material inside. That, and this was just a small part of the leak that washed ashore so far – considerably more is expected to be found tomorrow morning.

The government is under a lot of fire for not moving fast enough. Only 10 tonnes of oil has been pumped off the ship so far (in other words, next to nothing), and those operations have now halted due to the weather. The primary method to try and deal with the oil has be using dispersants – something many kiwis oppose as it’s simply using one pollutant to deal with another. The government is also asking the public to NOT try and clean up the oil. Kiwis LOVE their natural environment and beautiful countryside, so they are naturally out on the beach anyways, cleaning the best they can, and angry with the government for admonishing instead of supporting them.

It’s sad to see, both the actual incident and the huge amount of misinformation on the internet on this (or the general cluelessness of people). It is NOT a oil tanker leak, as many believe. It’s a simple container ship, but because these are big ships (the Rena is 235m long), they take huge amounts of fuel/oil to move across the oceans. This is NOT a cause to rally anti-oil movements to, which if you read the comments on, you would be led to believe otherwise (my IQ dropped a few points this evening reading those comments – morons).

If you’d like more information, the main news outlet here in New Zealand is the New Zealand Herald. Far better to get it from closer to the source than international news outlets. They’ve got lots of information and news updates there.