March 22, 1999
This is a letter written by Yuichi Hiramine, from Banff Alberta, to his literacy tutor. Yuichi wrote this letter during a trip he took to Australia. He had been tutored in English at Banff Public Library, by a volunteer tutor, Helen Olorenshaw. Helen is in her 80s and Yuichi is in his 20s and is travelling in Australia for work.
Hello Helen! How are you? Three months have passed in Australia. The first one and half month, I travelled from Brisbane to north. I brought my bicycle here so I rode most of the time. I stayed near the beach. Most of money I spent for diving because here is the Great Barrier Reef. I saw lovely small fish, turtles, shark(!), and colorful coral. What wonderful marine life. I really, really enjoyed seeing it.
Now, I live in Bowen, 200 km south of Towsville. I came here by hitching with my bicycle, about a 700 km trip. I'm working on a tomato farm. How did I get the job? I called the boss and said "I'm a good worker. I love tomatoes". No problem. I work for the farmhand and I learned how to look after the tomato. But now I changed to another farm. I'm picking tomatoes on contract. A bucket's pay is $1.20. I pick 100 buckets per day but other people pick much more.
Work starts at 6:00am to 2:00pm, 8 days a week! Sorry, 7 days. No day off. My back hurts. I still live in a tent. Lots of workers live in the caravan park. They come from all around the world to get money. It's fun to talk bad English to each other. Here is Australia, but here is the world.
After three weeks, I will leave here and go to Tasmania. I come back to mountains. It's getting hotter. Summer is soon. Please take care of your health, and say hello to my friends.
PS No more tomatoes!