Monday, January 5, 2009

Week Nineteen

So this is the New Year and as such, our lives all of a sudden become open to endless possibilities. We can start to live a healthier, more productive life and write a tidy little list of things that we'll be better at this year than last. Democratic Americans, Syracuse football fans and high school seniors have been looking forward to the change 2009 may bring for quite some time. For me, however, I set my life's changes in action 19 weeks ago and I'm starting January no different than the way I started December or November: with a freshly-shaven face, an ice cold Diet Coke and a new blog entry.

I know. You've all had lame Christmases and lackluster New Year's Eves. You've been spending an overwhelming time boring yourselves silly with your boring families and boring friends in your boring homes and you've all been anxiously awaiting today's entry for the last three weeks. Lucky for you, today is Monday and it's Week 19 on 12,767KM. My how time flies.
A lot's happened in the past three weeks. Violence has escalated in Gaza, the PAC-10 went 5-0 in bowl games and a series of avalanches rocked British Columbia. But more importantly, Don did a lot of pretty cool stuff. No, he didn't get engaged like some Syracuse classmates, and no...he didn't get a new job. But, from December 18th through the 31st, he did travel more than 1,800 kilometers from Cairns to Surfer's Paradise with half a hundred strangers, seeing the Great Barrier Reef, Whitsunday Islands, Fraser Island, Brisbane and Gold Coast, among other locations. While the weather was as expected, ridiculously hot, the activities more than compensated for the heat as we spent a significant portion of time in the pool, river, lake or ocean, and the rest of the time I spent in a pool of my own sweat.

The main attraction was the Whitsunday Islands, what several natives said they would most like to see if they vacationed in Australia. The Whitsundays are a group of 74 islands composed of dense green pine forests, vivid blue water and roughly contoured coastlines that give the group of islands instant eye appeal. I spent two days from December 23rd until the 25th sailing the islands, going to the beaches and snorkeling the waters in-between, in what was definitely something I won't forget. I slept on the deck both nights, next to three of the loudest snorers in the Southern Hemisphere, on a hard rounded surface that made my back ache for the next three days, but it was well worth it.

Of course, the real highlight of the trip was meeting so many wonderful people from all six continents. There were approximately 50 of us from all over the world - Singapore to South Africa, Switzerland to New Zealand and Montreal to Sao Paulo, and we all spent our Christmases together in the Whitsundays. We started each of my dozen days at around 6 or 7 a.m., averaging two or three times as many drinks-consumed than hours-slept per day, and bonding over unique stories and shared adventures in beautiful coastal Queensland, Australia. Some of my own personal highlights include:

10. Sleeping on the deck underneath the stars on a flotilla yacht in the Whitsundays
9. Cuddling a koala in Kuranda
8. Winning the Battle of the Sexes contest in Cairns by stripping, lap dancing and drinking mystery beverages
7. White water rafting the Tully River, a class 3-4 rapids
6. Surfing on the coast of Surfer's Paradise in the Gold Coast
5. Diving into a waterfall and lake on the border of Queensland and New South Wales
4. Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef
3. Drinking beer underneath the Milky Way on a farm in Rockhampton
2. Swimming with sea turtles in the Whitsundays on Christmas Eve
1. Caryn introducing herself to the German by calling him a douche bag. "Vaht es a douche bag?" "You're a douche bag."

It was a fantastic trip and exactly what I needed. Now there is some irony in that this two-week holiday has actually made me want to go back home. I traded a Christmas vacation in California for a Christmas vacation in Queensland, and took this trip to fully experience Australia. I wanted to avoid the Americans and hang out with Europeans and South Americans who like me, came here with an open mind and desire to see a new part of the world and the culture that lied within. And I loved the culture and adored this part of the world. Yet, by hanging out with Americans, incredibly funny, sweet and smart Americans, I realized how much I miss all of my friends back home, and by seeing the best sights in Australia I'm not sure what more there is left for me to really see and do here on the limited budget I am on.

There are a few people who want me to stay and quite a few more who want me to come back home. I'm at a point where I'm happy to go back home for good within the next few weeks or month, unless something compelling enters my life and coerces me to stay. I'm still convinced that there are more opportunities for me here, but the extent of which I'm uncertain. I now have two recruitment representatives working with and for me, and during this "transition period" I can see more of Australia. It's a new year and with that come new goals and new resolutions, but mine are the same as they were on August 27th: to see more of this world, to gain life perspective, to meet amazing people and to come back to the States a better and more-rounded person. Nineteen weeks down, 33 to go...??

Week Nineteen Summary:
Weather: HOT. In Queensland the sun really beats down on you...
New observation:'s little wonder why skin cancer is a problem in Queensland. I went through an entire bottle of sunscreen and then an entire jar of aloe vera :(
New activity(ies): white water rafting, surfing, snorkeling, koala cuddling, sailing, German mocking, kangaroo eating
New food: emu, crocodile and kangaroo
New word(s): sus, as in dodgy, as in sketchy, as in "The bus driver is sus."
New people: An Aussie who used the international distress signal by accident, a German douche bag, a Slovakian drug dealer, an Indian 7-11 worker and a French Canadian who's spending the week at my place
What I miss: Tara Zoellner, Matt Gorman, New York City, rooting against the Patriots, everyone from my amazing holiday

1 comment:

Tara said...

Don! I miss you, too! Come back. Megs and I want to do a February 3C1W. Or something like that. The sooner the better.