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Published: October 28th 2006
OK, this had better be the last installment! I'm getting behind in current blog updates, but I don't want the Surfaris Saga to go untold. My last update kind of sucked due to time constraints, and I'm barely talking about the actual surfing at all, but what can ya do, I guess?
So, after squeezing in the last possible moments of surfing we could on Friday morning, packing up all our individual and group gear, loading up the bus/trailer, and posing for a bunch of group shots, we piled into the Captain Good Vibes for our final journey. *tear*
When we started off, Rosco informed us that he had yet another amazing hidden talent--was a singer/songwriter and had recorded a CD! He asked us if we wanted to hear it, and of course we did, so he popped it in. It was great!!! (I think I mentioned this earlier). We'd heard him a bit on his guitar early when we had an impromptu sing-a-long, and I heard a song of his in the background during the Chile documentary, but his CD really blew Derek and I away. I bought a copy the next day and am currently anxiously waiting to find a computer with iTunes so I can load it on to my iPod.
Once Rosco's CD was done, we put on the movie "Jaws." Hehehe, everyone wanted to wait until AFTER surfing to watch it, but I'd actually seen it twice shortly before leaving (once on TV at home and once in Creston with Aunty Nancy and David). I don't think Jaws ever affected me as much as it did when most people saw it when it first came out, however. Rosco seemed pretty impressed with my toughness to be able to surf after just watching it. I got the impression it was slightly traumatic for him viewing it when he was 14! I should mention that it was soooo hot this day. Well, of course it was hot--it was a bus travel day! That's how things seemed to work that week. We stopped at a gas station to fill up, and everyone bought cool drinks. I bought some ginger beer, but it had a really strange cap and I was concerned I might spill it in the opening process, so I moved outside before making the attempt. Good call, because I spilled it allllll over myself! At least I was just wearing my Billabong rashguard, which is totally quick-dry, so it wasn't a big deal. I smelled like ginger beer, though. It tasted exactly like the ginger beer Leigh taught us how to make with the kids at Science Venture this year, but it cost me over $3. Next time I'll make it overnight with my own yeast, sugar, and ginger!
We were making really good time, so Rosco and Pat decided to take us to a great little water hole for some cliff jumping and a cool down. After some impressive manuevering of our big rig by Pat, we were off the road and ready to go. It was a short walk past some kind of electrical station to the small lake. I think Rosco said it used to be a gravel pit or something. The cliffs for jumping off of were realllly high, so, naturally, I opted out of that activity. I did hop in for a little swim, but just from a nice water-level ledge. All of Team Sweden made the big leap, which I was pretty impressed about. Well, there were sort of three levels of ledge, and no one was brave enough to go off the super high one. I think that was a good call, because the one they did jump from was still crazy high. Mark did it, too. Derek stayed dry. When we were leaving these two adorable kids came to play. They had this sweet blow up alligator that they were about to jump in the water with, and they were pretty excited about it. Cute! I really wanted to play with them but we had to go.
From the water hole (a billabong? haha) it wasn't very far to Byron Bay--about an hour, I guess. The drive was really nice, with occasional gorgeous views of huge, sandy, surfy beaches. Oh, and we saw a GIANT prawn on top of a building! HUGE! Mark got a good picture. I'll try to put it up at some point. It was seriously so funny.
When we got in to Byron Bay, we dropped Rosco off at his house then Pat continued with us on. He and Rosco both live in Byron Bay, so they knew all the good haunts. Pat drove the Surfaris rig through the entire town and gave us a big Pat-style tour, which was informative as well as halarious. At one point, he was doing an imitation of the head banging that goes on at one of the trance/drug laden/rave-ish style clubs, and it was so eye-catching that these girls on the street saw and started laughing and imitating him. It was halarious. He also pointed out the Cheeky Monkey, which we would experience first hand just a day later (foreshadowing....)
After the tour, Pat dropped us all off at the Arts Factory, which was to be our hostel for the next two nights. How to discribe the Arts Factory? I just don't know. Maybe I already attempted this when I first got on a computer after Surfaris; I can't remember. Well, it's certainly a unique place. Full of a mix of hippies, artists, and backpackers. Accomidation options range from camping, to giant teepees, to huge shackes with bunkbeds stacked 3 high, to nice private rooms, to normal 6 bed dormstyle rooms. Something for everyone. There's a pool and a pond, hammocks and pool tables, massage classes and make-your-own digirido classes. And these incredibly obnoxious turkeys are EVERYWHERE. Grrr I hate those turkeys. All the Surfaris people were put in the 3-bunk bed high rooms (there were 2 of them in one building). After seriously the longest check in process EVER (let me just say, artists should NOT be allowed to run high volume businesses; it just ends in madness) we claimed bunks and then headed to the bathrooms for a much anticipated shower. Ahhh salt-free skin once again. Then most of us went to the Buddha Bar, which was adjoining, to say a final "bye" to Team South Africa since they were getting picked up by a friend and leaving for good that evening. We opted not to eat there because it was really expensive, so a bunch of us walked in to town after just narrowly missing the shuttle (turns out there were actually $10 backpacker meals available, but we didn't find out about those until the next day). Pat had pointed out "the best bar in Byron Bay" on this tour, and we were determined to find it. It showed surf videos, too, and we were already missing the waves so we thought it would be a good fit. Unfortunately, Pat's tour had taken a bit of a roundabout route and we had a very hard time finding it. I kept saying "just one more street!" and dragging people along, but we lost Team Sweden to kabobs early on and all the boys were getting really annoyed with me because we were all starving. Eventually, we gave up and went to a "Big Bad Johns" style place called the Hogs Breath. Lukas and Ruelent bailed at this point, too, so eventually it was just Derek, Mark, Patrick, I left. We ordered some delicous chicken burgers and had a great meal, despite terrible service (eventually we just left some money on the table and took off because our waitress was ignoring us). It turns out that we were right across the street from Pat's recommended bar all along, but we hadn't recognized it. Ohhh well. After some internet time we went back to the Arts Factory and turned in for an early night. After all, we'd been surfing at 5am that morning.
Oh wait---we COULDN'T go to sleep because the Buddha Bar was bumping with loud, live music and the bar was located directly behind our shack-style building. I was at the very top bunkbed, sleeping right beside some netting which spanned the gap between the room and the wall. Needless to say, netting is not soundproof. Luckily, the band didn't play much later than 11pm and the non-live music after that point was either quieter, or I was just tired enough to fall asleep anyway.
I had a decent sleep, but woke up a few times in the middle of the night because I was really itchy (more foreshadowing....)
Then, the lovely turkeys decided to have cock fights or something at about 4:30am, squabbling and scratching and falling off the tin room which was located just ouside my netting. EVERYONE woke up. They were sooooo loud. Mark thought someone had actually fallen out of our crazy high bunkbeds. Stuuuupid turkeys. I never really got back to sleep after that, so I got out of bed around 7am to check out the place.
A bit before 9am Mark and Derek were both up and ready to go, so we took the hostel shuttle in to town. Jess2 and Dave were going to keep sleeping. They'd had a later night than us. We opted to spend the day shopping because there was SO much to see!!!! Surf store after surf store--we were in heaven. Except that we had extremely limited funds, so we were sort of in heaven and agony at the same time. The boys wanted board shorts, Derek wanted a new shirt, and I really wanted a nice summer dress. We went to pretty much every store in Byron Bay (it's not that big of a place), at which point we were getting pretty tuckered out. Sooo we headed back to the Arts Factory to write a few postcards and have a rest, before starting out for a second circuit on the town.
We had a good time wandering around the Arts Factory and Byron Bay in general because we kept running in to Surfaris people we knew. It was nice to be able to run into friendly faces again! At the Arts Factory, we chatted to a number of people and found out that those in the room next door had all been moved out of their beds because their room was infested with bed bugs, and they had all been eaten alive! At this point, we began looking at our own bodies. We'd been itchy all day, but we all just kind of thought we'd gotten bitten when we were camping and hadn't noticed it until now. Derek reacts really badly to bug bites, and he was COVERED in big red welts. Admittidly, some of those were from camping but he had more than ever before, and Mark and I both had tons of small, itchy red spots. After getting a few other opinions, we all agreed that yes, we had been attacked by bed bugs too, so we went to reception to demand to be moved to another room. This is where the ordeal begins. At first reception seemed hesitant to help us, but after seeing Derek's legs the manager was positively horrified and was super good to us from that point on. Hahahaha. They really looked awful. Poor kid. In order to cleanse ourselves and our stuff of the BB infestation, we had to put EVERYTHING that had been near the beds in the dryer so we could burn the bugs and their eggs. Lovely. So we packed all our stuff up into bags and threw it in the Arts Factory drier. At this point we were getting concerned because we still had more we wanted to do in town with our one day in Byron Bay, so while our stuff was in the drier we hightailed it back to town. I split up from the boys to do some power dress shopping, and we arranged to meet later at the grocery store to stock up on food for the 12 hour bus ride we had to endure the next day. I found a dress I liked, and after meeting up with the boys I went back on my own to buy it. It was a totally unnecessary purchase, but I really like it so.... oh well.
After buying my dress I went back to Arts Factory and used my new key to open up our new room. We'd been given a private 3 bed room with a little fridge and everything. We were pretty excited about it. Except that.... when I opened the door it was completely barren!!! All of my belongs that I'd put in there before were gone, along with all of Mark and Derek's stuff! I thought. "interesting..." and set off to scouer the area for the boys. I couldn't find them, though, and not a single Surfaris person I met had seen them, either. Eventually I just went to reception to see if they knew what was up. Haha, the girl there was like "Oh! Is your name Jessica? Oh, I'm so glad you came! Is this your stuff?" At which point she pointed to a HUGE pile of my crap taking up a massive area behind the desk. I hadn't been ready to move out of our old room so all my thing were in individual plastic bags and stuff; it was really messy. "Yes, that's my stuff," I sheepishly replied.
Well, we've had to move you, " the girl said. "Grab your stuff and I'll take you to your new room. Your friends have already been moved." So I loaded myself with bags and went to my bed in dorm room #4. Oh wait, no beds available there! The Arts Factory had made a mistake. Shocking! So we went back to reception, and, surprise surprise, I was supposed to be in dorm #3, not dorm #4. OK, so back upstair again, and this time I actually had a bed. Phew! I locked all my stuff in a locker (with my own lock) so I couldn't get moved again, and hoped I would finally be able to find the boys, who had been moved to a different dorm room. They found me, though, and explained the whole situation and what had happened. See, the Arts Factory is run as a total gong show operation and their reservation system is a disaster, so they actually needed that 3 bed room for someone else. It was OK, though, because we were being compensated and getting free t-shirts! Yahhh!! I'll have to post a picture of our matching shirts later.
At this point, I was exhausted from the turkey wake up and the ordeals of the day, but there's no rest for the weary. I still had to put the clothes that I was CURRENTLY wearing in the drier to cleanes them of BB, so I changed into my new, slightly fancy dress (complete with Teva sandle footwear. Hahaha. Oh well!) and put my clothes in the drier. Then I caught up with Jess2, Mark, and Derek and headed over to the Buddha Bar for a Surfaris wrap up party!
The food was really good, and it was included in our Surfaris fee, which made it even better =) It was nice to see everyone all clean and refreshed. I gave Rosco and Pat each a postcard I'd brought from Canada with pics of Tofino and the west coast of the island, which seemed to go over well. They were really amazing for us, so I wanted to say thanks. After dinner and some drinks, we went into our own private room (oooh) to watch our Surfaris video, courtesy Rosco. Finally!!!! We'd been waiting for this moment all week. The video was INCREDIBLE! Soo funny and well done. And Rosco had done some very timely editing of many parts of the pantimime, which I quite appreciated. It was really halarious--I nearly died of laughter throughout the entire thing.
After the screening, Pat convinced us to head out for a night on the town at Cheeky Monkey's. How he did that without actually ever planning on coming, himself, I'm not sure--but he did. Cheeky Monkey's is this really funny, smokey club where people dance on the tables and benches, because that's what the dancefloor is made up of! It's just an area of metal picnic tables, studded for extra traction, with a bizzare mix of 70's-today dance/rock/pop music playing. It was really funny, and certainly an experience not to be missed. Plus, our Surfaris crew was reallly fun to party with. Especially Team Sweden! They left at 12:00, but they went hard until then! Those Swedes really know how to dance. Patrick was laying down some moves, as well. Team Canada left at 12:30 because the smoke was becoming overwhelming (I'm so glad there's no indoor smoking allowed in Victoria!) and we had to get the Surfaris bus at 8am the next day, and we were super tired from the early turkey wakeup.
We all had a good sleep, but I woke up pretty early. We wanted to allow at least 1/2 hour to check out because we weren't sure what we were going to get with the whole procedure, especially since we had become sort of problem customers. It went pretty smoothly, though, and the manager guy was really nice to us. Our new t-shirts were incredible. I might wear mine tomorrow, I love it so much.
At 8am the bus showed up and the three of us got on. We were the only ones from our trip taking it back to Sydney, but there were a number of other people that were taking it down to start their trip early in Point Plomer. That's a pretty good idea. Next time I come on Surfaris (I'll be back!!!) I'm going to do that trip. After a couple hours on the beach and a few turn arounds to pick up people who'd missed the bus the first time (grrr!) I worked up the courage to ask our driver, Lester, if we could put our Surfaris DVD on. He's Pat and Rosco's boss who doesn't normally run camps anymore, and Pat seemed a little unwilling to have us show the DVD to him, so naturally we had to make sure it was done! Again, I laughed through the entire thing. I'm not sure if anyone else on the bus enjoyed it, but we sure did. I think it got them in the mood for the start of their Surfaris adventure.
In Kempsey (the 1/2 way point) we unloaded everyone who was about to start Surfaris, I unloaded my bladder (after seriously almost dying), and we gained a crew of US college students who were in Sydney for some unknown reason and had just been on a little weekend Surfaris trip. They were an interesting bunch, but not very friendly. I guess we weren't really friendly to them, either. Naturally, we showed our DVD to them, too. Hahahahahaha. They definitely didn't appreciate it as much as we did. Oh, and the driver, John, tried to show us the video from the trip he had been on 2 weeks earlier, but it kept stopping a couple minutes in. It did go long enough, however, for us to recognize Mark Stephenson and Jeff on it!!!! It was soooo random becaus we didn't know that they'd done Surfaris at this point! Really funny.
Once we dropped off the US crew at their dorm rooms, Mark and I had a great talk with John. He was a great guy and I really enjoyed talking to him. He would have been a good guide, too, but OBVIOUSLY not as good as Pat and Rosco.
When we got dropped off at Central, we were exhausted after our marathon 12 hour bus ride, but we made it to Sancta Sophia to see mom, somehow.
I did it!!! I recapped our entire Surfaris saga!!! I'm sure I missed a lot of good parts at the end, but maybe I'll re-edit these things as I remember more parts. Phew. Now I can start telling you things we're doing currently. N ot now, though, because I only have 3 minutes of internet time left. Bye for now!
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