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Guest Comment: Extra work and that great football game adding to a great experience


Will be here again, your friendly South African in Aspen.

As Saffa’s time in Aspen seems to slip away, it’s become very clear that there are three main pillars that make up our lives here: work, ski, and party/play/fun (whatever you want to call it ). Although that sounds extremely basic, that pretty much sums up what we do; if we’re not at work, we’re probably on the slopes and if we’re not on the slopes, you’ll most likely catch us at the Pie Shop, or another local favorite, having a beer and a slice. That being said, the work pillar is the one that consumes the most of our time and so I thought it appropriate to dedicate a column to exploring this further.

As I mentioned in previous weeks you will be able to find a South African working at almost any location in the city and for most of our first month and a half here we engaged in a single work. We soon realized that with the excessive rental prices in Aspen, the high cost of living and our desire to travel to the States after the season, that was not going to be enough. The hunt was on and with relative ease most of us found second jobs. At the time, it sounded great, but we found it left us with little free time to tear up the Buttermilk ramps or visit Panda in Pie. It was the beginning of trying to find the right balance.

I constantly debated in my head about whether I was working too much and not making the most of the amazing opportunity here in Aspen, but the extra workload was actually an eye opener.

Landing jobs and working overtime really aren’t the enemy in Aspen. We came here as part of a cultural exchange program and although we want to ski, party and relax, the interactions we had at work and what we learned are incredibly valuable. I feel like it’s all about people. The friends we made are the ones that will stay for life and by spending time in different restaurants we were able to fit in with a completely multicultural group of staff. I didn’t know much about Eastern European or South American culture, but after three months of working with many people from these regions, I feel like I understand and appreciate the differences in our ways of life and our cultures. Learning Spanish is now definitely on my agenda for 2022. Come to think of it, we also learned about the United States, and if you haven’t googled the height of vegetables and moose in Alaska, I invite you to do so! It might not be so strange for Americans, but as a South African I was blown away.

Another reason why my mindset about the many hours of work has changed is because of the staff party at the French Alpine Bistro. I had heard it was something to look forward to and what happened on Super Bowl Sunday did not disappoint. Everyone in the restaurant was invited to meet at Ajax at 11.30am, and the day started with a few runs.

It was the first time many of us had skied together, and the ability of the people on the slopes didn’t matter. It was about the company and spending time together outside of work. Afterwards, a few bottles of Whispering Angel were shared at the Sundeck and a group photo was taken to mark the occasion in memory. What followed, however, was the highlight of the day.

We all descended the mountain, some more gracefully than others after a few glasses of wine, and ended up at the restaurant at 3. We were greeted by a harvest table full of food and drink and it was easy to tell it was going to be a brilliant night. I don’t think it’s necessary to provide any more details (under strict management instructions) other than that it was one of my favorite days of the season so far!

Working in Aspen is an important part of our lives and with the right mindset, I think it can be just as, if not more, rewarding than skiing or partying.

More on the Saffas in two weeks. Cheers.

PS Saffa Day is Thursday so come “jol” with us!

Will Norton was born and raised in South Africa, and loves the house. He will write twice a month for The Aspen Times while there. It’s true, there is no place like it, but Aspen with 30 of your friends is not bad either.

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