Friday, May 27, 2011

Amanda, do you ever have a normal day?

That was what my friend said to me at dinner last night. Yes is the reply but they are kind of few and far between something always seems to happen to me. I'm chilling in bed right now the 4WD has a wheel almost off the axle, my ankle is swollen, my back is grazed, I'm covered in bruises. I let a spider crawl over my face, got attacked by a killer snake, walked/ran 3km in the middle of nowhere at 3am in the morning to find help signalling SOS with my torch….

Ok lets start from the beginning. It involves beer.

11pm I rolled home after a very long shift at the entertainment centre. I was taking my surfers out to Scott's creek to catch some crayfish for eating and a few snakes just for fun. Surfers I had, Leo again (brazillian german), Javier (columbia), Youngkey (US), Romana (Austria), Assia (Germany), Colleen (french), Endika (Spain), Mike (german), Ken (US), Alice (france), Philipp (German), Hogni (Faroe Islands).

Its an hours drive away so we didn't really arrive till super late. We set up the tents and got a nice fire going. There weren't any crayfish since someone had come and eaten them all but there were a large amount of snakes so we ran around catching them for a bit before getting bored (and I was cold from the water) so we sat around the fire drinking. Endika & Colleen were worried they hadn't locked the van so I said I would take them back. They had parked it just before the 4WD part. On the way back from the van I decided it was 3am and I would be stupid and go offroad, straight into some mud! Only to get the Hilux bogged so badly in some deep mud that it was never coming up. I left Endika & Colleen alone with the car and decided to walk / run back to the campsite to see if I could get some help. Anyway it turned out it was about 3km and it was so dark. I had my torch but I wanted to save the batteries so I just survived by moonlight.

Anyway after about 10 minutes of wandering around in the dark by myself I was getting paranoid like crazy. So that's when this fucking SNAKE decides to attack me. So I am screaming jumping around and this snake is following me everywhere. Anyway after a short while I suddenly turn on the torch to see it and its a bloody shoelace that got stuck on the velcro of my sandals. I’d just like to say in my defense, the three deadliest snakes in the world live in my backyard!

I get to the clearing just before the creek and decide whilst running to signal S.O.S with the flashlight hoping that someone will see me and perhaps drive up to me to save me running the last km. No such luck.. apparently they saw the flash of the torch but not the signal and just assumed we were finally coming back. So since we had been gone at least an hour I queried the lack of worry, shrugs all round!
So about 7 people pile into the other car and we head back to the 4WD where they attempt to push the car out of the mud. Nope no luck. Accepting defeat we all pile back into the car +another two. We headed back to the campsite. You ponder how we fit so many in the car? Lets just say three of us hung out in the boot (trunk) I decided to really drown my sorrows. I grabbed a beer out of the esky and then walked forward and promptly fell over the esky dropping my full beer everywhere and severely bruising myself. It was then as I was drunken stumbling to my self made bush toilet that I fell instead into a ditch and sprained my ankle. I lay in agony in the ditch for a good few minutes before crawling out and limping back over to the party.

Somewhere in the night I found a huntsman picking it up I put it on my shoulder but it soon decided to crawl over my face and onto my glasses where it sat quite comfortably & photogenically.

Huntsman are not deadly but they do hurt a little when they bite, if they bite.

The next morning I woke up and called my dad to come tow me out of the mud and chilled in the river with a beer whilst I waited. When he showed up about 10:30 he said "where did you get the car stuck." and I was like "off the left side into the mud" and he goes "well its fine. its on the road" I was dumbfounded and he took me to the car. It was sitting on the side of the road, handbrake on all the doors locked. Somewhere between 4 & 9am someone pulled my car out of the mud.

Eventually we left to go home I had Columbia on the front of the car so tried to hit as many bumps as possible - make it interesting you know. As we got out onto the main road & picked up the other cars we noticed the 4WD shaking, Philipp got underneath and said there was an alignment problem with the axis and being that he was a mechanical engineer I believed him.

Driving home at 50km/h we finally got back to reality 2.5 hours later. Most of us were exhausted, hot, dirty. We decided to head over to the free waterslides which are about a 10 minute walk from my house. Anyway I was going down the dual slide with Mike from Germany who is a big guy and we were going really fast when we hit the end, I just bounced – hit the side of the waterslide and went flying onto the ground scraping my elbow & back. Dazed I stood up signalling to the lifeguard I was ok. That was the end of my waterslide adventure.

In the end I was talking to my diesel mechanic friend Steve about the car and he straight away asked me if there was a lot of mud in the tyres. “Yes of course” I said. “Well wash all the mud out of the rims and try again” So I did exactly that and the hilux ran like a dream.

Go figure, so how was your day?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Darwin is paradise this time of the year.

Darwin? Where? As I spent my time travelling few people knew about the small town I call home. And when I was asked where I was from I eventually just said “north Australia” I did try and reference the movie Australia but it appears very few people actually watched the movie. The shot of Huge Jackman shirtless pouring water over his head is worth every penny, I promise.

As the rest of Australia sinks into winter at a chilly 0C, drizzly rain and all around shitty weather Darwin suddenly turns into this haven. The temperature drops sure a whole 2 degrees during the day down to 30C and a pleasant 10C at night down to 20C. The skies are blue and it rains maybe three times over four months. Its now that Darwin becomes alive. Backpackers pour into the city strolling down the streets in bare minimum filling up the nightclubs with their exuberance and hard earned dollars. Don’t even worry about a dress code, its Darwin. Thongs & a Singlet are your dress code. Cafes can drag their chairs and tables out onto the streets without fear of patrons being rained on.

There is more work than you can throw a backpacker at. Everyone is a little bit happier and not dealing with the heavy air of humidity & heat. Life is good.
Its now we camp, the nights are cool and you don’t stress about being rained on. The water levels drop and some of the most beautiful places in the world can be seen. It brings an air of remoteness that can’t be described.

You can swim once more in the oceans without fear of the jellyfish, colder weather means less mosquitos. The Mindil Markets is up once again a favourite spot to relax and watch the sunset whilst eating food from around the world.
Yep.. Darwin is paradise right now.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Taking a trip to Scotts Creek & Memory Lane.

Friday straight after work I went out to Scotts Creek, about 10km after the Adelaide River Bridge just under an hour driving. Dad was drunk so I had to drive his car which is not nice for gear changes so I made a few mistakes while he back seat heckled me. The road wasn’t too bad but there was one or two spots you could not get through without a high clearance 4WD. I admit I only used the 4WD once on the way back because I made a bad choice and got stuck.

The water level was really high for this time of the year, mostly due to the above average wet season Darwin had experienced but it was low enough to spot exactly what we were hunting, crayfish. Or as we like to call them in Darwin Red-Claws. They look very similar to yabbies’ which you can catch further South Australia but grow a lot bigger, and they taste great! I had with me my German Surfer Philipp and between the three of us we had one torch, that didn’t stop my father however he would just reach under the rocks and triumphantly pull out a huge Red-Claw or occasionally the odd file snake. Philipp spent a long time trying to catch his first Red-Claw by hand but when he finally got it he swiftly became professional and was soon grabbing file snakes as they slithered over our toes and throwing them further down steam
The fish were insane and in parts you couldn’t see much of the sandy bottom because of how many fish were there and as I was walking around they would jump in my pockets or get stuck in my sandals.

There was a little girl there maybe about nine years old with her mother and as Dad was pulling up the file snakes she was so excited and he would take the snakes over for her to hold and was teaching her about the teeth and the feel. It reminded me of when I was really young and dad would take us out on night adventures to this particular creek (last time I was here I was about 10 years old.) He would throw various snakes and stuff at us. Its something I really treasured growing up with my father which as most people know those moments with my dad were few and far between as a child. So I guess I got a little nostalgic seeming him with this nine year old and made me realise how happy I am now I have a much better relationship with my dad.
Overall it was a successful night we caught about 20 of the crayfish and a bunch of fish for the crocodiles to chow down on.

My sisters & I at Scotts Creek in 91'

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A conversation with Leo

Last night a couch surfer, Leo came over who has been living in Darwin for a while, we spent a pretty crazy weekend together at the festival. I had just come back from the Mindil Markets with my two German surfers and we were chilling on the balcony just drinking & smoking with three other couch surfers who had come round to borrow camping gear. Anyway so three of the surfers went home about 1030 and the german boys & heather decided to watch a movie and Leo finally shows up. So I pack the pipe and we sat on “jordans couch” and just talked for about two hours. I admit by then I was pretty drunk & stoned and not sure how much sense I made plus I kept dozing off in between conversation.

Anyway the point of the story is Leo I don’t know that well we did party for a weekend but it was a pretty messy weekend but he could rock up at 10:30 at night and we could just talk shit for hours. And it’s a completely comfortable scenario, its like instantly we are best friends. And this isn’t just Leo this is 90% of the couch surfers I meet. I think the beauty of the connections is Couchsurfing is not a dating site and so you have no problems feeling comfortable around people, you’re not trying to impress anyone. They actually find your awkward personality endearing & interesting not a negative to your overall mate ability. & you’re exactly the same. You don’t worry that he is too short, or his hair is too long or he doesn’t have a job right now, you really look at the person underneath.

So I asked Leo doesn’t he find it hard always saying goodbye. That’s the thing that really gets to me I don’t want to let go and I hate that I meet this fascinating person and we have this intense whirlwind relationship for three days and then they are gone, and chances are I never speak to them again. But he said he didn’t have a problem because he knows that seven years down the track he can look that person up and fall right back into the familiarity.

But really that’s great that you can have those relationships but what about home? What about stability. He told me couchsurfing is his home. Each person he meets is a part of his family. I loved my three years overseas travelling and wouldn’t change it for the world but my last vacation made me realise how much I need to be home right now. Five weeks on the road was almost too long and its strange because not even a year ago I wanted to extend my holiday another two years! I’m so happy to know I have my circle of amazing friends that have been with me for years, people I would trust with my life. I love that my family is just around the corner.

Then he asked if I had ever hooked up with one of my surfers. Its no secret I am constantly enjoying the beauty of the many back packers who grace my balcony. Right now I have two very good looking German boys crashing on my floor. Its nice to look but to touch? The thought never crosses my mind anymore. I did it once. I have a hard enough time saying goodbye to a friend.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

couchsurfing & the relationship

I love everyone, I can’t help it. Every day I get 10-15 requests from couchsurfers around the world and every day I have to say no to most of them because I just don’t have the room. And its horrible because I really wanted to meet that professional scuba diver from Thailand or the Ex Russian Model or just that French guy who said he would cook some amazing food for me!

It’s a constant stream of surfers through my door and its putting a massive strain on my real life. Relationship wise I have now been single for two years. I put it down to being fussy but the truth is I just don’t want to give up what little time I have. When I host I am always doing something new & different and always meeting some crazy new person that if I gave up part of that time to just one person I worry that I will miss out on something amazing. I like to DO and I want to surround myself with other people who DO. So yes hosting is taking over my life. I’m comparing the frivolity of 3 day acquaintances to creating a meaningful partnership for the rest of my life.

I think couchsurfing has replaced the cat lady. Instead of surrounding myself with felines to avoid a personal connection today I surround myself with backpackers.

Monday, May 16, 2011

I think I host to much

This week was supposed to be the elusive surfer free week but the dry season brings a large influx of couch surfers making it extremely difficult to say no. So instead of no surfers for the next week I now have three german guys staying with me.

Then I also had to decline a large amount of surfers I really wanted to say yes to
:( Honestly if I had my way I would host everyone but I do live with other people so I am forced to conform to their standards. Last year I hosted about 100 people... I don't even really have the time to host there is so much on my plate. I was considering a relationship but with my schedule I don't think its fair to a guy. But I guess if its meant to be it will be easy hey...

Speaking of I haven't even STARTED my zombies. Ok who wants to be the first model?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

In the bush, it doesn't matter.

As of late with my new found socialism it appears I love a good bush party. It combines a lot of my favourite things. The bush, camping. doof music, strange people from around the world & overindulging with various substances. This weekends choice copius amounts of beer & weed.

I travelled out in two cars with my little sister & an assortment of backpackers. From left in the picture Julia from Canada, Leo who can really only be described as Brazilian-German who grew up in the USA, Me!, Joanna from USA, Bo from the USA, My sister, Tina from Austria, & Henrik from Germany. We arrived a little after 4pm which appeared to be early by festival standards even though it had begun at 12pm. We quickly set up our tents in what appeared to be the most entertaining spot of the festival. Beside us we had a group of people whoose origin was unknown but we believe the majority of them were Italians and therefore every time we walked past (their tent was on the way to the music) we would be greeted with "Ciao Mate". Our camping spot was entertaining mostly because of a large mud spot that formed over the night right beside us and over the time we saw many many cars get bogged. We even helped push a few out (ok I lie the boys did I just watched and smiled)

I got horrendously drunk and walked around the festival aimlessly making new friends and occasionally running into my own crew. Henrik the youngest of us all was passed out by 8pm still I wasn't about to let him sleep through the entire festival and shook him awake every chance I got. See I'm a nice couch surfing host. I have to admit he awoke again around Midnight only to discover we had run out of beer. Well perhaps that will teach him for next time ;) I had some pretty cool black light paint and decorated a young kid as a crocodile but in my over-indulged state my painting skills become even worse and the poor kid just looked like someone had smeared green paint on him. hehe.

I ran into my friends I had met and partied with until the wee hours the week before which was awesome but once again forgot to get contact details so I assume they will join my list of awesome people I know for a night and then never see again. Which is probably best because outside the subterfuge of beer are we really compatible as friends?

The partying continued until 5am where I realised I was just to exhausted to carry on dancing and everyone else had dropped like flies. So I crawled into my very comfortable tent and talked random crap with Leo for a short while before drifting off into some crazy dream like stasis which wasn't really sleeping but was more relaxing then dancing. Luckily for me there was a tent of bogans just outside who decided 4am bogan talk was ideal and therefore I got to listen to them until they finally moved on around 8am.

The next morning I went back to the dance floor and ripped it up a little more running into my very drunk Scottish friend and his even drunker irish friend. Finally a sketchy 11am rolled around and we decided to head off home where we relaxed in my house till I took Julia to the airport at 4pm.

I have to say I love a bush rave purely because people don't care where your from, what drugs you are doing, what you look like 7am in the morning. People are open minded and happy to feel the unity of a place where all the freaks congregate. Where you can be whoever and thats what I love. To much in this world depends on peoples opinions and standards and it can get really tiring trying to live up to standards. I think I want to go live in India in a monastry for a while and just be.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

With me its never just one drink.

Its guaranteed that if you can get me out of the house no matter how tired I am and feed me one beer that I will most likely have another and then another and then suddenly its 4am I’m dancing to some crappy R&B having the time of my life, your rolling your eyes in exhaustion begging me to come home but instead I find some guys looking for an after party and then as the sun rises I crawl into a dark corner and pass out.

In Mexico it was a tent in the middle of nowhere, Last Saturday it was a park bench. I’m not fussy about where I lay my head as long as I’m comfortable and trust the people around me. But I never know how to stop yea it’s a horrible habit but it makes for some of the most interesting nights of my life.

My life is random and I would not have it any other way. I am the perfect couchsurfer because of how much I love something different. Things happen to me that the normal person would raise their eyes and gasp at.
“Whaaat you hitchhiked in Mexico are you crazy?”

Maybe a little ;)

I hate to glorify alcohol but some of my best (and worst) decisions have come from “just one drink”
And really the couchsurfer motto needs an update “participating in a better world, one couch & a beer at a time”

Saturday, May 7, 2011

So its true nice guys exist.

Last night I was out with a couple of couch surfers and one by one everyone left and it was coming to my attention I was about to be alone in Darwin in a nightclub which if you don't know Darwin then you don't realise how many desperate men are living there. I was having so much fun dancing I didn't want to go home however I wasn't interested in hooking up either. So I tested the waters I slipped my watch off my wrist and hid it in my pocket and then struck up conversation with the first person I saw with a watch turned out to be a Kiwi guy.

"Can I see the time" Thats my new pick-up line :) Then he told me that the watch was on england time. So I asked when he had been to england and he told me two years earlier which got me asking why his watch was still on england time. He didn't know how to change it. He then told me about his girlfriend in Sydney and some other stuff. Safe on the first try.

My last surfer left me and I walked over to him "can you do me a favour, all my friends left and I want to keep dancing but as soon as I dance by myself the 20 year olds move in and i just don't feel like fending guys off all night. You have a girlfriend your safe can I just hang with you." He was super cool and introduced me to all his friends who I danced with for the rest of the night.

They did leave me alone at one point and instantly vultures swooped in and I was surrounded by 20 year olds. Seriously what the fuck.... is there something about me attracting these guys. Luckily Kiwi saw it happen and was quick to rescue me.

After the bar closed we went to the melaluca and jumped into their pool. Illegally of course before security finally kicked us out at 5am. I took them back to my hotel to get more alcohol and then we went down to the park where we sat on a park bench and the Kiwi took out the ukulele and started to sing. Somewhere along the line I fell asleep/passed out and when I opened my eyes again the sun was shining.

They walked me back to the hotel and we said our goodbyes. It was probably one of the most awesome nights ever. I hung out with cool guys, there were no stipulations.. it was just fun :)