Where work for accommodation equals squatting
24.04.2008 - 06.05.2008 0 °F
For the last two weeks Pat and I have been staying at the Old Gym in Wanaka. When we first decided to stay at the Old Gym we thought it was a typical wwoof residence. On further investigation we realized it’s simply large dorm accommodation for skiers and snowboarders, many of whom work for accommodation. The living situation isn’t terrible, though the walls of the bedrooms aren’t connected to the roof (the only way the building meets fire code).
The main problem is the cold. The house is poorly insulated and without any working heaters the bedrooms are frigid, often it’s colder inside than it is outside. We've started sleeping in one of the common rooms, this way we can enjoy a warm fire until we fall asleep. Of course after we've fallen asleep the fire goes out and the room returns quickly to the temperature outside. Apparently during the winter the house fills up with over 30 renters so we've been wondering if the body heat helps keep the place warm. Truly it puts the old mobe at Sawbill to shame.
Amazingly the Old Gym has two beautiful Japanese baths. After days of work cleaning, filling and heating the water we realized that without covers the baths would never be able to retain enough heat to be even slightly warm. After some investigation we discovered some sheets of Styrofoam that had obviously been used as covers in previous years. Of course the sheets hadn't been stored well and were covered in filth. After some vigorous scrubbing and loads of dish soap the Styrofoam was clean enough to be used as a spa cover. Sadly even with the makeshift spa cover the baths are only slightly warmer than body temperature (but a nice respite from the cold air).
While the Old Gym fills up during the winter there are only three tenants right now, including the caretaker Matt. Matt, Martin and Michy are German, but all speak decent English. We went out to a bar with them last night, after one drink Pat and I headed home. This morning we found out that after we left they drove to Queenstown and stayed out partying until 9am in the morning! We couldn’t believe it. We’ve also made the acquaintance of a British and German couple; both pairs were staying at the Old Gym when we first arrived but have since found alternate (warmer) housing in Wanaka. Thankfully the Old Gym is free so dealing with the cold isn’t intolerable.
I am waiting to hear whether I'll be working at the ski fields this winter. Pat found out a few days ago that he has been offered a full time position in the rentals department. Sadly I still haven't heard and all I can do is wait. Tomorrow we're planning to go into Queenstown to look at apartments.