Monday, October 23, 2017

Australia & Everywhere In Between

So much and so little has happened since my last post.

I’m still here in Airlie Beach but in between then and now I’ve made a trip back home and several small trips here and there.   

When I last posted, I was back in Bali waiting for my working visa to process before heading back to Australia. That trip was surprisingly fun. Although I spent pretty much every day lounging by the pool or the beach, I met some really fun people and got to see a side of Bali I hadn’t on my first trip there.

Once I got back to Australia I quickly found a job at a local bar and settled into life quite easily. It was nice to have a job and a routine again and a place to call home and briefly unpack my bags. Living out of a backpack for months on end does eventually get old.

Not long after I arrived however I set off again for a short trip back to the other side of the world to see my family. At this point I hadn’t seen my brother in a year and my mom and dad in about nine months so it was long overdue.

It actually worked quite well because my best friend here, Paloma, was flying back home to Seattle, Washington the exact dates that I was heading home for.

Quick side note. I ended up here in Airlie Beach because of my friends that I met in Madagascar. As previously mentioned in my last post, Sam was born and raised here. Paloma also moved here a few months before I did after she traveled around Mexico, Turkey, Thailand, and Indonesia. She and I have a lot in common and get along really well. It’s been so great getting to live my life here with the two of them.  

So, Paloma and I flew down to Sydney together and did a bit of exploring before heading home.

Beautiful Sydney from above. You can see the Opera House and the harbour.

On the lookout for Nemo.

I first flew to LA, where I was lucky enough to meet up with my uncle for the day since I had a long layover. He took me to a SoulCycle class and we spent the day catching up. My cousins, Lars and Auge and growing up so fast! I feel fortunate to have gotten to see them, however briefly, while I was in the states since who knows how long it will be until I’m home again.

From there, I flew to Atlanta where I had a ten hour layover. I landed at about 12:30am and my flight wasn’t until almost 11am, so I spent the night in the airport. It was such a creepy experience. I was basically the only one in the airport so I wandered around the massive empty terminals before falling asleep on some chairs I pushed together. The Atlanta Hartsfield-Jacksonville airport is the largest and busiest in the world actually. All of the music was still playing and the fountains were going but it was just empty. It almost felt like I was the lone survivor of a zombie apocalypse. The worst part was that every ten minutes the intercom would come on full blast reminding ‘everyone’ (also known as just me), to not leave baggage unattended, etc. So sleep was rough.

I know some people probably think my life is some glamorous holiday where I trapeze around the world and everything is rainbows and butterflies, but it’s most certainly not. The reality is sleeping in airports, taking 15 hour busses, eating strange street food because I’m poor, and staying in rooms full of dozens of people. Just because I travel a lot does not mean I’m even remotely rich. It’s quite the opposite.

Anyways, after four flights and almost 40 hours of travel, I arrived in Mexico the day before my family did. Planning to surprise my mom was really difficult actually. There were lots of logistics my dad and I had to figure out and I’m also really, really bad at keeping secrets. So for the month or so leading up to the surprise, I barely talked to my mom. I just knew I would let something slip so I thought it would be best to just not call, etc. So sorry mom, but I think the surprise was worth it. Here is the video if you haven't already seen it:

I met them at the airport and was standing outside the baggage claim. My mom was thoroughly surprised and immediately bawled for half an hour. It was great. Even watching the video now makes me want to cry.

Our time in Mexico was a blast. We did a lot of great dives, drank a lot Mexican beer, and ate a lot of Mexican food. After spending a year out of the US, Mexican food was definitely at the top of the list for things that I missed so I was extremely lucky to get to go straight to Mexico and eat as many enchiladas and fajitas as possible. My mouth is watering just thinking about it right now.

Check out this video I put together of our diving:

After getting back from Mexico a day after my family due to missing a flight since I flew standby, I was able to check out my brother’s house he just bought, catch up with some friends in Tyler, and have a Taco Night with my best friends from high school.

Then I left again for a weekend in Austin where Haley and her boyfriend, Matt, met me. It was so, so, so good getting to see Haley and definitely a highlight of my trip back home. I feel so lucky to have a friend that drops everything to meet me wherever I am. When I told her I was going to be back in the US she immediately planned to make a trip to see me while I was home. She’s the best and I’m just so fortunate to have such a good friend.

Her, Matt, and I had so much fun in Austin. We walked around the city and explored and ate yummy food and of course went to Sixth Street. I also took them to Pete’s Piano Bar which was a blast. We also took a mini road trip across the state to my parents’ house too. Along the way we stopped at Bucee’s and the Little Czech Bakery in West, Texas as a throwback to our time in Prague together. I loved getting to show them around my home state and my hometown. We hung out on the lake and went for both golf cart rides and a boat ride. I already miss them both and count down the days till I get to see them again.

I definitely didn’t have enough time back home and future trips will need to be longer, but I live and I learn.

I was still happy to head back home to Airlie Beach by the end of my trip. One of my best friends from school, Torie, also came back with me! So the travel back although taxing wasn’t quite as bad. We did miss a flight out of LA though and were stuck there for an extra day. We made the best of it though and were able to meet up with my Uncle Charles again which was great.

When we got back we moved into our new place which was really exciting. We have a great three-bedroom apartment with an awesome backyard. Again, I feel lucky to have somewhere to call home and not have to carry my toothbrush back and forth to the bathroom. I don’t think I’ll ever take a room to myself for granted again.

Our double hammocks are the main feature of our backyard.

Since getting back, I’ve settled into life here. I still work at the Banjo’s which is a local bar that I really like. It’s got a really relaxed atmosphere and I love  the people I work with. About a month ago I started working day shifts at a café here in town as well called Treehouse. It overlooks the lagoon and the ocean. It’s been fun working in hospitality not in a bar-type setting.

Most days that I’m not working I just hang out and do laundry, cook some yummy foods, go to the beach, have drinks with friends, or whatever. My life is pretty normal here but with an amazing backdrop. I try to get out as much as possible and explore the surrounding area as much as I can.

Airlie Beach is the perfect place for me to hang my hat for a while, save up some money, focus on what matters in life, and enjoy each and every day. I say it a thousand times a week but life is just too good here. I’m lucky enough to live in a beautiful, sunny, beach town where I’m surrounded by really great friends and people. I couldn’t ask for more.

The trees in Queensland are amazing. This one was perfect for a climb.

This is Whitehaven Beach, one of the most beautiful and famous beaches in the world. And it happens to be a short boat ride through the Whitsunday Islands from Airlie.

We've luckily had quite a few good boat days full of whale watching and beach cricket.

This pod of dolphins hung around our boat for a good twenty minutes. 

There are lots of great hikes here. Above is Mount Rooper and below is Honey Eater.

I love gettting out with friends and seeing the surrounding area.

Roo's everywhere. 

We had a weekend camping trip to Cape Hillsborough a few weeks ago that was such good fun. I ordered stuff online to make s'mores because they are apparently not a thing here and my Australian friends had never had them. They loved them of course. 

The sand at Cape Hillsbourough is filled with gold flakes that are so pretty. 

Kangaroos come to the beach at sunrise every morning for a feed. 

Days off are my favorite. We've had lots of big nights out and big nights in that have been good fun. 

Miss Molly getting a little dirty on a low tide walk out to the ship wreck. 

We got into the fall spirit here in Airlie Beach even though it's spring time and Halloween isn't much of a thing here. 

The only downside of life here is that Torie isn’t here anymore. After about a month she decided this wasn’t for her. She stayed another week or two so that we could go on a fun trip together though which we definitely made the best of. We flew down to Melbourne where we wandered around the city, ate delicious food, and checked out different areas of the city. It was really nice being back in a city setting.

We also rented a car and spent the day out in the Yarra Valley touring wineries which we really enjoyed.

Torie and I are both a fan of trying new foods and drinks so we visited a local brewery, Green Mountain Brewery.

Torie's first hostel experience. 

When we were supposed to fly to Sydney, all of the flights were cancelled due to bad weather, so we were each put on a different flight the next day and were stuck another night in Melbourne. The next morning, we turned up to the airport and my flight was cancelled but hers wasn’t. Luckily, I pestered the airline staff enough and they let me have first priority standby for Torie’s flight so by some miracle I made it on and we were off to Sydney.

We had beautiful weather in Sydney and went all over the place. We went to the zoo and the Opera house and Manly beach and Bondi Beach and the Glebe markets, etc. It was a busy few days and really, really fun.

I loved visiting the zoo. You take a ferry out of the city to get there. 

Seeing a buddy from Madagascar in a zoo in Australia makes me happy.

I loved getting to see all of the cool Australian animals like this Cassawary!

The animals are long said to have the best view of the city. 

The infamous Bondi Beach is a highlight of any trip to Sydney. 

The walk from Bondi to Coogee is probably my favorite view in the whole city.

 We managed to find a good mexican restaurant in Glebe!

Saying goodbye to Torie was definitely sad. I was so happy to have a friend from home join me on my adventures, but I guess it just goes to show that this life isn’t for everybody.

I think everyone would be surprised by the amount of people that constantly tell me how ‘lucky’ I am and how they wish they could do what I do.

The truth is, I’m not lucky. I have taken a lot of steps and put a lot of work into the life I’ve created for myself, so it kind of annoys me when people tell me I’m lucky. Yes, I completely agree that I’m very fortunate to have the life I do. But it’s not like everything has fallen into my lap. I’ve put in a lot of hard work and heart ache to get to where I’m at. No one sees the hours and hours that I work and plan. That’s like me telling someone with a good job, good wife/husband, good little children, and nice house that they’re lucky. Luck doesn’t get you very far in life.

Anyone could honestly do what I do. It just takes a lot of effort, perseverance, and commitment.

I think what most people would find though is that it’s not as great as they thought. Like I said, most people probably think my life is just one big, fabulous holiday, but it most certainly isn’t. I pretty much live a normal life, just in interesting places.

It’s also not as easy being on the other side of the world from all of your friends, family, and everything you’ve ever known. Going on vacation is one thing because you still have your normal life to return to. But when you don’t have that safety net, you’re far outside of your comfort zone.

In my case, I’m extremely independent and extremely happy on my own. I make friends easily and look forward to immersing myself in new experiences. All of these characteristics I think I’ve developed over the last few years which makes me well suited to the life I’ve been living.

Anyways, I’ll end my rant. The moral of the story is that I’m sad that Torie went back home to Texas, but I’m so grateful for the six weeks that we had together. Part of this lifestyle is not getting to spend a lot of time with the people that matter, so getting to spend so much time with Torie was great. We had a lot of good times and adventures that I will never forget.

 Looking forward, I’ve got quite a bit planned in the upcoming months.

My parents will actually be on their way here in just one week’s time. I cannot wait to see their beautiful faces and give them the biggest hugs! How fortunate am I that my parents make the effort to come see me wherever I’m at? Living abroad has definitely showed me who matters the most in life when it comes to both friends and family.

We have a good two weeks planned here with lots of sight-seeing and diving! I can’t wait to show them around Australia.

I’ve also got a few other trips in the works that keep me both happy and working hard. I can’t believe 2017 is already almost over, but I’m excited for everything the future holds.  

Bonus: While hanging out at the lagoon one day, a reporter from the local newspaper ended up chatting with me and then featured me in the paper. It was quite a funny interview. I mailed a copy of the paper to my mom and dad. 

1 comment:

  1. It was really nice reading your story and to know more about your adventure. I suggest you do one for your trip at Popondetta while you are at KTF


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