Monday, April 8, 2013

25 years ago

So apparently today 09/04/2013 is the 25th anniversary of my arrival in Darwin NT. I guess that would have made me seven and a half years old when we left my home town of Melbourne.
I remember when we first moved here it was a three year plan and I hated that I was leaving my life and friends behind for something completely different.
I guess being seven helps though because it wasn’t long before I fell in love with Darwin and everything it had to offer. Darwin is an acquired taste and most the people who live here aren’t born and in order to become a true local to you have to learn to love every part of it. The drunks, the stifling heat, the cool dry, the humidity, the lack of facilities, the crazy wildlife.
Yep I’m a local.
I was lucky enough that my family embraced Darwin whole-heartedly and I was thrown headfirst into becoming a bogan My father would drive us out to creeks in the middle of the night throwing all kinds of slippery creatures at us. 

I would often wake up in the morning to find the bathtub full of snakes, turtles, crabs etc. Once my dad caught an unknown snake in our backyard. We were pretty used to this he would often drape three metre wild pythons around our necks as we grew up. He put the snake in a fish tank in the living room but there was something different about this one every time you walked past it would strike at you hitting the glass hard. After getting it identified we were all shocked to hear it was a King brown – The Third Deadliest Snake in the World. We used to catch lizards in the backyard name them and creating elaborate homes in random plastic tubs.

But it wasn’t all slimy creatures. On Friday nights we would get fish & chips and head down to the cliffs on Nightcliff shoreline. We would watch the sunset over the jetty. Darwin has some of the best sunsets in the world. And if there was a cyclone incoming us girls would play in the huge waves as they crashed against the rocks. On Thursday nights mum would drag us down to the world famous “Mindil Beach Markets” and we would sit on the beach eating lamb yiros watching the sun fall, finishing the night off with peppermint chocolate chip iceream.

In Darwin no one would go to the city everyone would shop at Casuarina Shopping Centre smack bang in the middle of the suburbs and didn’t matter when you went you would always run into someone you knew. In the dry season we would head out to the National Parks back then Darwin was under developed so we could camp right next to the water and had no bathroom facilities but a small drop toilet. We would blow up inflatable beds and ride them all the way to the bottom of the rapids, the bruises we received all part of the adventure. Sometimes we would pack lunch and walk through the drain pipes in Rapid Creek.

In Darwin you never wished for a white Christmas you always dreamed of a monsoonal Christmas, not to mention there wasn’t anything much better than snuggling deep into your bed on a rainy Sunday morning. As kids we would sit up in the high branches of a mango tree and talk into the early AM.

At night we would climb up on top of the Mormon church taking blankets and pillows talking about everything. I had my first kiss on the roof of that church. My friends would come over after school and I would spend hours playing GoldenEye on the N64. Not to mention the glow bug wars that left us feeling destroyed.

In Darwin it doesn’t matter if you forget your shoes when you go out & the singlet is the preferred clothing. You don’t swim in the ocean from September – May and usually not any time after that. Everyone keeps their jackets at work because the air conditioning is freezing, speaking of freezing anything below 25C is considered cold. If you are supposed to be somewhere at 6pm you leave the house at 6 since everything is five-10 minutes away.

They make us tough up here, dealing with frizzy hair and runny makeup on a daily basis you’d have to be. Do you think if I had grown up in Melbourne I would have been an urban city rat more interested in clothes & money than the wild bush person I am today. Who knows really who can say… all I can say is I love Darwin with all my heart & I will always be a Territorian.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Lingerer

I now have a false neutral on my profile lets talk about how being a lingerer is not a good thing. 

Its not. Lets understand you are staying in someones house who is letting you stay there out of the goodness of their hearts. If you want to stay longer then you need to communicate this with your host. If they want you out than you shouldn't be complaining or arguing about it you should leave on the date they requested.

My lingerer left this response in a reference to me

Then she went & booked other CSers without consulting me about my plans, which I thought was very inconsiderate & thoughtless as I had to reschedule everything and find last minute lodgings (where places were already fully booked).

So I will start by saying, yep this is true. I invited other couchsurfers without asking him what he was doing. I had no idea what he was doing he never told me what dates he planned to stay at my house just left it open ended. I came to an understanding that he intended to stay nearly two weeks (going on a two day tour in between) after asking my mother if she could drive him to the airport on Saturday. She then came to me whispering

amanda when is leaving he seems to think he is going to be around forever

There was never any communication between me, my mother or my sister on what dates he was supposed to be there. #1 rule of hosting or surfing - Make sure you confirm dates.

This was the extent of our length of stay communication I have copy pasted this from private messages

 Can you host for a week or longer (although I may be making some side trips during that time and just leaving some luggage behind)?

as for hosting more than a week we only host up to 7 days after that if surfers want to stay longer we expect contributions of $60 a week to cover water & electricity which is really expensive in Darwin. if you are away on trips its fine to leave luggage and I don't consider time away as part of the seven day limit.

And that's it. No dates were set or asked for. He asked if he could stay longer I said I usually let surfers stay longer than seven days if they pay $60 to cover costs he never confirmed that was ok. After five days surfing with me I became aware my family was not that keen on him so I asked him to leave in two days telling him I had other surfers. 

I don't believe any of the steps I took was my fault except I should have had clear expectations in the beginning. The difference between the lingerer and me is that he is travelling on his own schedule I however have a very set schedule. And most hosts have this. Suggesting that accommodation was booked out in off season is a lie. There is plenty of accommodation in Darwin in March. I checked with some hostels as I found his accusation a bit ludicrous and was informed that yes there was plenty of accommodation. If he didn't want to pay for accommodations he should have asked before booking his flights to Thailand if he could stay at my house until the following Saturday.

Surfers need to take responsibility for their own schedules and not expect to rely on a host EVER you are the traveler not us. Don't Be a Lingerer.