It is 07:00 am and my alarm goes off. A new day of work in the orange shed calls for me. I get out of bed, stumble into the shower, devour my daily oatmeal and off to work it is.
We work in the orange shed with about 16 other backpackers. After the oranges are fully grown and picked they arrive in the orange shed. There the tough labor for us begins…
Good orange, bad orange, good orange, bad orange…
At sorting table 1 two lucky backpackers have the privilege to take out all the rotten oranges. We wear ear muffs for the noise, and not wearing your favorite jumper is probably a good idea, just in case an orange decides to explode on you… 😉
To juice or not to juice
The oranges are then being washed and go on to sorting table 2. At this table two other backpackers are awaiting them and ready to select the wheat from the chaff. The good oranges go through, the bad ones will never know what chilling in the supermarket is like, and are destined to become orange juice. They then roll onto the spray that kills everything which could possibly be a threat to this tasty orange fruit, and then arrive at sorting table 3, where the last spotty, sunburnt, damaged and deformed oranges are being sent off to a life of juice. All the good oranges that are left are then being sorted by a machine who determines their size and their quality.
Ready for round two!
After that the oranges move on to the auto packing line where four girls grade the oranges again, and decide whether the orange is pretty enough to be packed straight away, or just doesn’t make the cut. The boys then make sure all oranges are packed and stacked, ready to be shipped. Meanwhile a few other guys are cruising around on the forklift to make sure all the bins of juicy, pretty, ugly or still-to-be-sorted oranges are in the right place at the right time.
Orange-life: not for the faint-hearted
During my first week in the orange shed I started on sorting table 2. Sorting oranges sounds like an easy job, and if you compare it to some other farmwork it probably is, but oh my – it is boring and tough! To stand and juggle around oranges the whole day is killing for your body, especially your back starts to ache after a while. And since sorting oranges does not require much brain activity, you have all the time in the world to think about everything you could possibly think about. In my first week in the shed I already saw a girl break down and cry, and two boys quit the job just after a few days.
Hooray, I got promoted!
Luckily a few days later I was moved on to the auto packing line. This also includes standing the whole day, but the job is less hard, the pace is not as high and it is even quite fun with the girls! Of all the farm work I’ve done (planting and picking) this is surely the best one so far. Now let’s hope I’ll keep up this positive attitude for the next 60 days to come 😉
In my next blog I’ll tell you more about the place we currently call home. I can already reveal that it is not your average working hostel, and that it includes kittens, horses and beautiful sunsets.