i step off the airplane and into the sun. i get asked to put my cell phone away by a familiar accent as i cross the tarmac and enter the sliding glass doors leading to customs, only to realize that i have completely unopened, delicious snacks from portland still carefully snuggled between books and planners and pens in my baby blue corduroy jansport backpack. damn it.
i hate giving up food at international borders. are my dried mangoes and coconut covered cashews really going to cause the end of the world on the other side of this security gate? highly unlikely. are they even going to check the blonde-haired, blue-eyed american girl’s bag? highly unlikely. but alas, i give up the snacks (except the portland chocolate bars and coffee i have brought as gifts).
of course they don’t check anything. i don’t even think they looked at my face while stamping my passport. i miss those dried mangoes already.
the good news is that i am now in a country where it’s hot enough to grow mangoes right now. and in a town with a mango tree in the neighbor’s front yard. what luck!
it has been almost a week since ryan stood embarrassingly waiting for me in the airport with a sad, but cute attempt at a sign reading “sara aka possum” being held by a stuffed platypus puppet. (possum is a common term of endearment in aussieland. their possums are a lot cuter than ours.)
we immediately loaded my bags into his brand new used ute (truck) and hit the bitumen (pavement) for the hour or so drive from brisbane back to ryan’s hometown on the gold coast.
palm beach (or palmy as the locals call it) is your quintessential beach town. salty air and sunshine. surf clubs and local pubs. run down streets lined mostly with one story brick homes that look like they belong back in the 1950s. anywhere you stand, you are always only a block or two away from water. even if it’s just a manmade canal that leads to a salty river and into the ocean.
straightaway, i get the hometown tour. complete with a bite at a cute main street brekky (breakfast) joint, drive through neighboring suburbs to check out local surf spots, and steak on the barbi (barbecue) with ryan’s family, the grants. a family that has an old car that has been passed from son to son to son and ended up as a memento in the backyard. yep, dad, you would love them.
jet lag? what’s that! i think my jam-packed day one might have been ryan’s attempt to make up for the fact that i lost an entire day on my trip across the world.
but then it didn’t stop.
the next day we packed up the truck with camping and surfing essentials and headed to the hippie capital of eastern australia, byron bay.
by midday, we were drinking beers at a beachside pub with ryan’s aunt and her new hubbie. by late arvo (afternoon), we were sitting out amongst the waves trying our best to hang ten. by evening, we were enjoying an amazing meal and live music at the locals only spot. by nightfall, we were curled back up in our natural habitat…a tent on the ground. what a day two.
the next morning, we found a cute restaurant a few minutes out of town since the traffic on the two lane road going back into downtown byron was at a standstill. we lounged on comfy couches drinking our coffee (after finally figuring out that my preferred drink order is a “flat white” in australian coffee-ology), eating our tasty breakfast sangas (sandwiches), and allowing ourselves to drift deep into meandering conversation. ahh the good life.
then onto the lighthouse, the most easterly point of australia. what a view.
oh, and i saw my first wallaby!
then back to the sea for a surf.
then back to the ute (what a beaut) to drive home. sunned and ready for an afternoon nap.
now you might be thinking, sara, don’t you have to do work? and yes, that is exactly what i did on day four.
ryan and i went our separate ways. i stared at my computer and caught up on everything i had been pushing aside. and ryan went to the garage to fix up his truck. it needs a bit of love before we take it on our adventure up north along the east coast and over west to port hedland (aka the middle of nowhere).
but there could be worse things than working in an office like this… (and eating carrot cake for breakfast.)
and then came friday night.
it was ryan’s friend’s birthday party so i was put on the hot seat. meeting the gang. i wanted to make a good first impression, and well, after taking a horrendous spill off my bike and onto the asphalt, i am pretty sure they will never forget the night we met. and currently, my elbow and knee are having a hard time forgetting as well.
please note that yes, i was indeed sober when i ate shit. and please note that yes, later that night i was able to ride my bike home with ease after quite a bit to drink.
day five. hmm. day five did not start until noon. you give up your day for the night sometimes, and friday night left us both a bit worked. however, we recovered just in time to wish ryan’s mom heather a happy birthday and meet steph’s (dale’s (ryan’s brother) girlfriend) mom who was in town from melbourne.
after a quick afternoon stumptown coffee on the back deck, it was time to head back into my couch and television cocoon. see you when day six comes along.
wake up and head to the suburb of burleigh for the sunday arts and craft market. a quaint little row of tents along the beach sporting the usual sorts of knickknacks, clothing, and tasty treats.
after a nice morning stroll, a couple coffees, and a sugarcane juice with ginger, we took a drive with the windows down and tunes up through the valley and took in the rock pools.
then we headed home and hopped into the “skis” for a “paddle.” i was unsure of how my paddling skills would be, but as i sat down in the super skinny, hard-to-balance, semi-kayak-ish boat with ryan’s dad gordon watching from the deck, i was fine.
actually, i was pretty good.
we paddled out of the canal behind gordon’s house and into the river. the salty river. it is still so weird to me.
there are a lot of things that are still a bit weird to me here. like jumping into the left side of the truck and then proceeding to stay in the left hand lane when turning left. like hearing every word shortened to something like brekky or skatey and not seeing a baby in sight. like being the one who has the strange accent. like questioning if i am going to die when i see a massive spider chilling near my open suitcase.
oh, and signs like this…
but i am loving it. and making friends with lots of really cute dogs. and getting a healthy glow (even with SPF 50 slathered on everywhere).
this morning, we woke up at 6am and had a surf before i set up my patio office and began to tackle my monday to-do list.
not too bad at all…