The only way I can coherently get down briefly the last part of this journey without sidetracking. I’ve been writing only about the sidetrack on and off for a month and its done no good to my state of mind so I’m ignoring it like a coward until it makes sense. Until then, here’s an infantile run down my most of my 2014.
ON THE ISLAND
Bit late hey… Should I mention it? Working as a dive instructor, living in the sunshine, showing people what evolution got up to under water, and eating the best food in the world. Green Cafe’s nasi campur. YUM. It was an incredible time and the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. I grew to know who I was again. I can tell this is the case when I stop worrying about what people think about me because I am confident in my daily contribution in the world, meeting people who inspire, and am completely comfortable being an arsehole to the idiots in between. It wasn’t supposed to last forever. I am not a lifer; high season rinser of good times until I die.
LEAVING GILI TRAWANGAN
That was a hot day. And quietly emotional. More for the unknown of beyond, the civilisation that awaited. And the unanswerable question of why I was moving on from a place I love so dearly. I knew instinctively it was time to leave, but I sadly never make a decision lightly, or ever remove doubt of whether it was the best bet. Nevertheless I trotted, and was met in Bali by one of my favourite people and her little monkey (not actual monkey but small human with teeth of a trigger fish) to spend a day walking around a pool observing harsh, nasal Australian accents and said farewell to my flightless project.
THE FLIGHT FORWARD
The plane was full of big, bad tattoos; shiny and red and recent and humming of future regret. A wave of xenophobic snobbery washed over me and I panicked that I had chosen to live amongst “these people” for a year. There’s no place like Gili, there’s no place like Gili click click click. Then I fell asleep.
I bundled off the plane at ten past four in the morning to actual coldness. Novel. And as expectant as I was for Australian border police abuse and questioning, I was met only with warmth by everyone I encountered. How disappointing. Where was the bag search, some goateed man asking me why I am in Australia, explaining the 100 packets of Extra Joss in the pockets of my SCUBA gear. It was sadly nothing like those TV programmes that fill up channel 5. I started to feel a little less out of my depth. Then I start to remember all the Aussies I adore and remember that not all of them have ridiculous tattoos. But quite a few do…
You see that second word of this story. Yep. Its the word plane. Short for aeroplane, derived from the Latin, big metal box that somehow gets itself way above the ground, baffling me each time and meaning that my flightless trip is over. Well, it was very over in the fact I had flown to Singapore for a visa, home to renew my passport at Christmas, and in September had gone to meet my niece in Turkey, something I can hardly regret, I mean the girl’s a thumb sucker; she must surely be one of the coolest chicks to (not yet) walk the earth.
So I should rename the blog but as it is coming to an end I will just leave it as this, call myself a fraud and think of a new name if I continue across the Pacific next year or do my drive home from Cape Town (anyone keen?). But that was my first flight forward. Can you give me that?
Great tour guides for epic brunches, stories of the white sharks on the beaches and the local ales. Lucky am I to have met some amazing people in my adult life. Better yet that they send me a message saying I am welcome to stay with them, and more overwhelming too that they sorted a weekend in Margaret River for us all to consume more ales and wine. Lovely Australia quality wine. Amazing west coast sunsets, and chocolate and roadtrips where I jackknifed my neck as I dozed to get the maxim drool from my open gob.
INDIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY
The train from Perth to Adelaide apparently was an odd choice. A lot of people just asked why? With a accompanying face that subtitled “for the love of god.. [why]?”
But why not experience exactly how vast this country is, how full of nothing most of it is; I had the privilege of time so I should take it while I can. Why the rush to get somewhere? If I had flown I would have missed 30 hours of flatness. The flattest flat I’ve seen. A place more uninhabited from the train window than Siberia ever was. I would have missed 48 hours worth of books and Dead Poets Society and a new game that is destroying my conversation, called 2048. I would have missed zoning out, a favourite pastime. I would also have missed a town called Cook, population: 4, and in doing so would not have been on the receiving end of the most desperate “hello” my ears have heard. Apart from the boy I found down a well that time, but that’s another story.
Adelaide was about learning to love a place with personal stigma. And for this I owe two very special loopers. As with the guys in Perth, I try not to write about people I care about, because I always sound like a cheese stuffed, brown-nosed ballbag, and this is not a thank you letter. It was about local wine, and diving in 17 degree water with shark shields (alas: not actual shield. If I was listening to Daz correctly some sort of sonar waves supposed to put off a shark. Or irritate it highly. Can’t we all just get along?! Though to be fair those five metre long yellow fin tuna must’ve been chased by something and I didn’t mind not seeing what it was). It was also about cows and local produce and talking ideas, and alcohol tackling me unawares and making me talk drivel very, very quickly to make it sound more worldly.
GREAT OCEAN ROAD
Delayed due to a longer than intended stop at Rockford Winery in the Barosa Valley, Kev and I left Adelaide at 4pm and hit a very straight road without any music. We stopped for the night in Kingston SE in a local pub where our mission was cider based to dilute the oddness of the place. Turned out to be a hilarious evening being tormented by a mother on her monthly night off from the kids forgetting what questions she’d asked us 10 seconds earlier. We never got quite past where we were from.
Crossing from South Australia into Victoria the roads got a bit more fun, more things on the edges of them and novelty corners. After lunch with one of my favourite gingers in Warnambool we actually got to the start of the Great Ocean Road. Having previously thought that the Great Ocean Road was the entire length of the southern coast of Australia, the real thing, hugging the south coast of Victoria for 243km seems pretty minor. (NB I was not driving so perhaps felt disproportionally relaxed about the whole thing. Thanks Kev!) 2 days on a train across the Nullarboor will teach you relativity. As will Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, but more on that another time. (I have much to ask now that those tears of fear and confusion have salted themselves to my squirrel cheeks. General conclusion: I am very, very scared of time right now.)
We made it to Torquay after breaking down an hour away and having to backtrack in a tow truck with a man called [feck I can’t remember] telling us about the Victorian hoidays and the fact his garage would not be able to repair the car until 5 days later due to the Melbourne Cup (which at the time was five days away) “The Race that stops the Nation” and allows Apollo Bay mechanics to decide that Tuesday is an inconvenient day for a holiday so I’ll take Friday and Monday instead thanks. We bussed to Torquay the next day, drank rum and ginger ales and I played bowls for the first time. Awesome weekend. Said goodbye to Kev and arrived in Melbourne. End of the line.
This was over 2 weeks ago and I have been job hunting and writing something entirely different for you that in the end said nothing whatsoever about the journey (hence the playschool structure of the tosh above) and basically getting myself in a tiz about life and the fact that I have got so far geographically and not very far intellectually or in my decision making for my future. And as above after watching Interstellar, I now view time as the ever-present shadow that is waiting to strangle you. Morbid hey! But it keeps ticking by and I fear so much that I am wasting time- in the wrong places, jobs, frames of mind, and backing away from the right people, opportunities. I need to chill out. And maybe pretend to myself that I believe in fate. To move made me comfortable and in control, and now I am at the end of 5 years of daydreaming, planning and avoidance, and trying to acclimatise to the idea of being in one place has overwhelmed me. More on this when I can turn the rambling thoughts into a succinct, comprehensible bit of future memory. Ah let’s be honest, that’s never going to happen!