Howdy folks, this is a long one explaining my lack of posts the past couple of weeks. Get a cup of coffee and a handkerchief ;), haha, all good, read on to see where my next chapter will be starting next week.
2 weeks ago this was how I was feeling, these words owned my thoughts, hapworkingtheworld had hit a wall, that wall was made of Antarctic ice. From previous posts you know how hard I have tried to get to Antarctica. 3 years ago my obsession of getting work in Antarctica started, trying to get work at the research bases in Antarctica, which especially saw me applying for cleaning jobs (only position in which I was able to apply for) at New Zealand’s Scott base, only to be turned down each year at the annual recruitment.
Then I turned my attention to getting work on the Antarctic cruise ships and boats that leave from Ushuaia at the bottom of Argentina (hence the reason I came to South America). When I arrived in Paraguay 3 months ago my days were spent applying to all 52 companies that are registered to work in Antarctica, and then all the recruitment companies and all the contacts I got from those emails. But there is only so many rejection letters one man can take. When you want something so much, and you put all your energy and passion and your life into it, only to get rejection letter after rejection, it gets hard, I would of spent 100 hours dedicated to this, and what did I have to show for it at the end, nothing (this is where the sad violin music starts playing and you wipe the tear from your eye).
Then a month ago friends and family sent me news about 2 volunteer positions available for the upcoming Antarctic season, where 2 applicants would be chosen to paint the outside window sills of Scott Base. Most people are probably thinking “painting outside in -40˚C! Even if you paid me I wouldn’t do it, and do it free, you have to be joking”, but for me it was perfect. This was my opportunity, I met and exceeded all the criteria, I was confident, there was hope again. All my energy went into completing the application form, doing all my background homework, ie ringing up and emailing people to see if I was eligible to enter from outside of New Zealand, which I wasn’t, but then I managed to organise a return ticket to NZ, so that didn’t matter etc., signing up to the organisation and paying the fee, and dad did a shit load of work sending it away, as I was unable to from Paraguay.
And then you guessed it, another “your application has been unsuccessful”! The reason my application had been unsuccessful was because my motivation for going to Antarctica didn’t align with what the organisation was looking for. That aside, after 3 years of being rejected for cleaning jobs and then volunteer work, and the countless other jobs, my will, my motivation for Antarctica had reached an all time low, I felt like just sitting back and forgetting about it, I had literally exhausted every possible way of getting there, and exhausted my motivation for it in the mean time.
I tried looking for other things to put my energy into, I grabbed hold of the idea of starting tours here in Asuncion. Perfect, I could put Antarctica on the back burner until next year when I would have a fresh breath of wind. So I planned out the tours, talked to the restaurants, did trial runs etc. Then I started spending my days at the tourist office trying to recruit tourist for my tours. But this market research pointed to one problem, there was no market here, there were no tourists, and the few backpackers that did come here are the adventurous types wanting to get off the beaten track, hence the reason they are in Paraguay, therefore are not the type of travellers to do a tour.
Soooooo, my days continued going to my “Fame” rehearsals, teaching here and there, trying to start up tours etc. I never wrote about this, but I was a part of the Fame musical that is to be held here at the end of this month. I joined it when I arrived here in Asuncion, to try something new out, yep, Hap singing, scary, and dancing, not soo scary but still scary. I enjoyed the experience, being surrounded by energetic teenage girls in leotards dancing around with the unharnessed enthusiasm and confidence that bubbles in adolescents.
Anyway I had been going about my daily business here, but there was something missing. I was feeling lost, not knowing where I was going, I was always going to Antarctica, but I had tried so hard and got nowhere, I couldn’t face going down and trying to find work, my Antarctica batteries were deflated. My tours, I knew they weren’t going to work, but still I pushed on as I needed something, and as for what I was going to do in the summer when Mandy was back in the States with the exchange students, I didn’t know.
So I was lost, deflated, a lack of motivation, I was a skinny stray dog running down the street but not knowing what I was running from and not knowing where I was running to. In fact I wasn’t even running, I was just staying still and the world around me was running, caught up in everyday life, like a person from the countryside coming to New York city and standing in the middle of the road, not knowing what to do, the cars are honking there horns shouting “what are you doing?”, and the country bumkin just stands there not knowing how to cross the road, but still the cars speed past and honk their horns.
It was looking like Hap was going to have to change his name to Sad, I wasn’t myself. I did some soul searching; I just let the traffic pass me by honking their horns while I figured out how to cross the road. Then I realised that the big ice wall in front of me just needed to be pushed over and made into a bridge! I wasn’t being fulfilled here in Asuncion, don’t get me wrong, I love it here, I love the people, I really do love it, but you need a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
So I pushed that bloody ice wall over and made a bridge to Ushuaia, the end of the world. Yep, I had decided that I was going to Ushuaia, Argentina, the port where all the Antarctic bound vessels leave from. How could I not, this was the reason I had come to South America. It wasn’t an easy decision, I had to let certain people down, for example I had to quit Fame, I had to stop teaching a class I had just started, I wouldn’t be here for Mandy’s 30th. But what it came down to was one question “What’s more important, making other people happy or making myself happy?”
On the 9th of November I will fly from Asuncion, yep fly, I had the choice of a 100 hour bus ride or flying, for the same price, ummmmm, yeah I’ll fly. I’m under no illusions as to what my chances are at getting work on the boats to Antarctica, basically they are slim to none, as all the cruise ships have their offices in other countries and just use Ushuaia as a port to leave from. It’s not like I’m going to walk up to a cruise ship and ask if they have work and then start right away. A big recruitment process needs to take place, ie medical checks, are your mentally stable to be working on cruise ships etc. And the private vessels that leave from Ushuaia to Antarctica, they will be organised, they’re going to Antarctica, not some tropical island to relax, they are adventurers that have been planning this trip for a year, they will have their crew all organised.
So basically my hope of getting Antarctic work lies with swine flu coming back with vengeance and hits the cruise ship community and they need someone at the drop of a hat. All I know is that I have more chance, all though not much of a chance, at getting to Antarctica if I’m in Ushuaia compared to being in landlocked Paraguay. I’m not going there to get work, I’m going there to try and get work. All I can do is try. With this decision made I am back to being Hap, I’m alive again, I’m excited about the challenge ahead, I have my tent and my sleeping bag and a free campground waiting for me in Ushuaia, Hap is working the world again, or should I say Hap is trying to work the world.
Nuthin but love to you all.
PS, Sorry for the long post, I had to explain my long absence, I think that is the longest I have gone without writing a post. Once I get to Ushuaia I will keep you more updated and a new place always inspires new writing.