From reading my blog (which…you are doing) one may conclude this trip o’ mine has been one happy-go-lucky, adventurous fairy tale, complete with instant best friends, quokka-kissing, and free farm-stays. I’ve even bottle-fed wallabies and walked dingos on a leash. And while I’ve certainly been too preoccupied to chronicle my day to day details (and my god, would you read that? I’d be bored to tears reading that.) it hasn’t been all fun and games.
At Uralla, I met an Italian girl named Marty who had two contradictory words you could count on her saying, depending on the situation. The first was “beautiful”, like, the salad is beautiful, the French boys in the vineyard were beautiful, your feelings for the kangaroos were beautiful. There we’re also “disasters”, which were situations ranging from the bumps in the road while we braced ourselves in the back of Ian’s truck, to the visa complications (eh, fraud) Marty was having with the Australian government.
Anyway, I’ve left Uralla but can’t stop declaring everything to be either beautiful or disastrous. (I do so with with Italian flare; don’t you doubt it.)
I’ve told you a lot about the beautiful here, but now that I’m over the halfway mark of my Australia trip, I’d like to take a break from all that oohing and ahhing. I want to tell you about the disasters.
I’d rather read somebody’s goofs than their vacation play by play, and I assume you’ve got at least similar sadistic tendencies as well.
So here goes. This is by no means conclusive, and if the rest of this trip resembles the first half, this will be frequently updated. Hope you enjoy my disasters as much as I hated them.
Was awesome and got to the airport two hours early. Kissed my teary-eyed father goodbye and made friends with a photographer from New York.
And my flight was cancelled.
There were airplane complications, so they rebooked me for a flight the following night. I used my new friend’s phone to call the only people i knew in California, and couldn’t at first get a hold of my dad, my mom, my anyone, except my friend Ryan. He was planning on picking me up, and then my dad called back. He was going to send my poor Nona to pick me up. MUCH complication here’ trying to coordinate my pickup with both Ryan, my Nona and my father, when all the sudden they were calling my name in the airport speaker. There was a spot open on the next flight, and if I got p there now they would get me to San Francisco in time to catch another flight to Sydney.
I told my new buddy to tell my dad, and then I raced through Security and onto the plane. I didn’t find out until later the panic I caused everyone.i think they thought my photographer friend had ‘napped me.
In the chaos of the aforementioned airport disaster, I’d had just enough time to post a cursed status on facebook that I’d be in Perth a day late. I was literally running through the airport in San Fran, and then customs in Sydney, and never really had time to contact people and tell them otherwise. There was a quick blurb I was able to post while I stood in the boarding line at one airport, but it only seemed to confuse my Australian friends more. Poor Brooke; she couldn’t tell if I would be there Wednesday or Thursday, and I was helpless on an airplane for fourteen hours, unable to put her mind at ease. I was able to get online in Perth and contact her, but it was hot mess. She and her two friends were amazing about it though.
Um, guess who’s debit card wasn’t working anywhere? Yes. Mine. I had to borrow money from my new best friend to get through a few days of trial and error. Some ATMs work, most do not, with Wells Fargo visa cards. This is one of those you need to discover before being alone on another continent. Foresight, Jess Moran, foresight. Also, I did in fact need a phone out here and had to buy a cheapo little thing in town. I spent more money that first few days than I did in the following two weeks. Not exaggerating.
Definitely thought I was a badass and decided to ride a rented bike from Perth city centre to Fremantle, where I was to meet friends for a concert. Definitely can’t read a map (I am American). What could have been an hour and a half cruise along the coast turned into an almost three hour, panicky, dehydrating excursion by bike through neighborhoods, yacht clubs, dirt paths, up stairs, to a pub…where I was not a badass and I asked for directions please fortheloveofgod. Oh, it was noon when I left Perth. Oh, it’s summer out here.
It gets better. Wait for it.
I finally made it to the fricking city of Freo and basically passed out into my smoothie at the only cafe with Internet. They were closing in an hour (disaster) and as I struggled to my bike to leave, I discovered I had no idea where I’d placed the bike lock key. The baristas and I searched all over the sidewalk, in the bathroom, under couches, through the fruit bowl, to no avail. I my heatstroked haze I’d somehow lost the key.
Enter new best friend, Josh, who was with Brooke when she picked me up from the airport. He showed up on a white horse with a sword (ish) and lifted my bike over the sign post it was locked to, and wheelied it to the brewery, where my sweaty mess of a Self met his family and drank all their water.
The concert friends? They saved me from the brewery by taking apart the bike and depositing it at the house we were having pre-concert dinner and drinks.
The concert itself? I’ve heard it was interesting. I wouldn’t know; I passed out for real In the back bedroom of the pre-concert house.
I keep losing things. Like Kristen’s cooler, my nalgene, my camera charger, Kristen’s silverware, etc etc. So embarrassing! And inconvenient for everyone. I’m not ditsy, I’m just distracted. Right?
The bus stop I was told to get off at by my first WWOOF host did not exist. At least not the way I understood it to. (Read; I misunderstood) And the driver was frazzled, as the bus had broken down for half and hour and he had to deal with this smartass teenager in the back. He basically threw up his hands in despair and brought me to the bus station in the kalamunda hills, where I was not meant to be. I had Kristen email my host the situation. She called, fuming, and we, you know, sorted out the confusion and I got onto a new bus with a more knowledgeable bus driver. (He took my haphazard description of where I was meant to be and deducted the exact location of my pick up.) That started off my first WWOOFing on shaky grounds, wouldn’t you think?
Em, that combative nature I was talking about? It is exasperated by my tendency to be…snarky. I think snarky is the word.
Confronted with racism like I’d never experienced, (was asked, genuinely, if i had noticed an intellectual difference between my black ex and my white ex, and did I understand that there was, in fact, a great divide in evolution between we civilized whites and the aboriginals…but they may catch up one day if we help them) I not only caused GREAT awkwardness at the dinner table by arguing back, but great offense to the racist. And then instead of relenting and allowing him the last word, I went all snarky on his ass and grinned; “you’re the boss, applesauce.”*
I was declared “quite rude”.
I took him outside and apologized, trying to explain that the use of the word “nigger” got me all bristly, and then went to my room and cried and wanted to go home. He brought me a glass of wine. All was well (ish) from then on out.
Felt cool checking into My First Hostel. Tripped up the stairs.
Still a dork, even in foreign countries.
Oh, that camera charger I lost? Can’t find a replacement, save for the SIXTY dollar universal charger in Albany. Defeated, I bought the damn thing, couldn’t figure out how to work it, cried, couldn’t return it, figured it out, ate cereal and went to bed.
Was really cool with my vegan, gluten-free box of muesli on the bus en route to Northcliffe. Was much cooler than those who are Under Law, the law being “don’t eat on the bus”. Was not too cool to spill half the contents of my cereal box on the floor beneath me. (Not. Exaggerating.)
No worries; I am quick-witted and covered that mess with my bag. What my driver can’t see, isn’t
I’m WWOOFing at a berry/vegetable farm in Northcliffe, and we are also painting my hosts’ new house. (It’s been in the works for four years, as they’re doing virtually everything themselves.) the other day we got started and needed to dump the previous days’ buckets of paint-soaked water. I picked one up, but was distracted by something floating inside. I touched it, but got weirded out. Diana, my host, said, “heh, a rag” and grabbed the dead mouse full-on. She shrieked, and I became dramatically female and flung the bucket away from us.
Blue water all over Roy’s car, their ceiling, the lawn…frick frick frick.
I spent the rest of the afternoon up on a ladder, straining my neck like a brontosaurus, wiping the absolutely baked-on paint drops off the ceiling. Such a backtrack; there was no progress from me that day.
“Fucking mouse,” I lamented. “Who thinks its ok to drink that color blue water?!?”
To be continued. Hopefully not when I climb the bicentennial tree in Pemberton tomorrow…
*I’m not very original. That line is from the movie, Factory Girl, which portrays the rise and fall of Edie Sedgewick. At one point in the film, Andy Warhol humors something Edie has said by affirming that she is the boss (applesauce). I always found the line wonderfully, playfully cynical, and have never had the right opportunity to copy it until now. I should probably learn to grit my teeth instead, but that’s a topic for another day.