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Published: February 18th 2009
I know this is a travel blog and I am not actually moving anywhere buts its the easiest way to keep you all updated as not everyone has facebook. I'll put a link on my facebook page if I remember. I am writing this on my laptop when I feel like so the rambling times might not spot on until I am connected to JCUs wireless network (thats the uni)
Feel free to delete these if my ramblings bore you. Anyone who has experienced written or verbal communication with me knows it’s a stream of conciousness. I don’t know how often I will write but expect frequently at great length to begin with. Although all the things that go through my head are unlikely to make it to the page as my memory is appalling.
I am not going to recap on the difficulty of actually leaving except for the next paragraph because it will depress me and I am looking forward. Or in Environment Agency speak out and not in.
So, I was temporarily distracted from the enormity of my actions by a nailbiting crawl to Heathrow where I had a wobble before security. Not a ‘I am not going’ panic but ‘what the hell am I doing’ panic. I got on the plane. I didn’t think but didn’t freak out either. I could not quite believe, like so many of you that I was actually going to Australia. To prepare myself in the last 6 months I stopped thinking about for how long and focussed on how I smiled every time I proudly said I am going to be a marine biologist. This was short lived as here everyone says that or they are local and roll their eyes. Its like going to London and saying you work in TV.
The flights were not nearly as awful as I thought they would be and I had a kip rolled up in a ball with my feet on the tray. I couldn’t go outside at Singapore so it was not until I saw the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House out of the planes window did I feel my adventure was starting. I want to paint a tourist board picture of this view but it was grey in Sydney. I told my body it was on UK time as an excuse to drink one of my favourite Aussie beers at 9.30am. No one batted an eyelid.
Getting to Townsville was another matter. I have been through the place a couple of times but my most recent ideas about it are from Mandas travels and pictures on websites or in travel books. Townsville was hot and I was wondering around in jeans and biker boots and seriously crumpled everything. Even my teeth felt jaded.
I had great plans to dive, swim and get a massage when I got here but I did none of those. I did throw the entire contents of my suitcase all over the room then left as it was messy. I got back from buying breakfast this morning to see the cleaner standing in the doorway flabbergasted. I told her not to worry and she smiled gratefully. I am regretting that decision as I am low on tea.
I put my shades and a smile on and went and sat at the beach front bar opposite my motel and tried to remember what size drink I was supposed to order. Pint, schooner - failed at the first hurdle. I sat under palm trees, listened to live music and felt the warm breeze on my face with someone playing covers. Now, he was good but every song reminded me of someone close so I left. Jet lag and melancholy do not a good mix make.
I contacted all the people I had met online and a young electrician replied. Born and bred in Townsville he has been living in Europe for the last few years but was back visiting. As luck would have it he was 2 blocks away on the same street having a beer so I joined him and his mates.
And so starts one of the joys of being somewhere new with spirited Australians. Brendan spent last summer living out of a van in London using the facilities of a 10 bedroom house shared by 28 Australians and getting VIP treatment at all the festivals in Europe as he had an event management contact. I wistfully relayed the story of my Mum apparently having contacts with Glastonbury security. An avid Glasto goer for years myself I did not actually hear about this until the night before I left. Good one Ma. Although Mums excellent choice of my first weeks accommodation has gone some way to redeeming her.
His friends told me the ins and outs of Townsville and we picked up some lost looking Canadians en route to a cheesy boogie. Now friends you know how much I enjoy that. The dancing, not lost Canadians. They always seem like such a competent bunch.
Met some fellow post grad marine biologists but they did not all want to bond. The joys of being an international student is they get looked after. Thought there must be some drawbacks to my visa.
This morning I wistfully looked at the pool as I can’t put sun cream on my own back and thought I should check out the uni. It takes about half an hour to get there and 3 days to walk around it. It’s massive and set in tropical grounds as opposed to Plymouths concrete jungle. I realised I had no idea what I was doing so joined the long queue for an ID card. When I got to the front it said I had to enrol first so I left dragging my feet as they are not yet hardened to constant flip flop wearing. What really miffed me was I checked my online account and I had enrolled in any old thing just to get the ball rolling so I have to queue in the heat tomorrow for nothing. I then got kicked out of Student Services as there was a flash flood warning and everyone wanted to get home while they still could. It reminded me of the mass exodus from work when they M5 was being cr*p.
And then the heavens opened as the lady bus driver careered round corners with about 2cm visibility. There are another 5 weeks of heavy rain to look forward to so I think I am going to be alternating between damp and fried. The air is so damp your hands feel wet if you wave them around. And its about 30 degrees.
Its not all bad though. I am sitting on my balcony typing this looking over the sea and Magnetic Island through palm fronds. As John Travolta said (why do I keep referring to him recently) ‘it’s the little differences’. The dog in a life jacket stood in the back of a boat happily barking away as its being towed. The little metal box on the beach containing vinegar for any stinger injuries. The ubiquitous gambling machines and drive in off licences, or bottle-o’s. The mozzies aren’t little though. Like pterodactyls. Neithers the Ross River. I thought we were crossing the Mississippi. Aissues never did do anything by halves.
I have made little progress on finding somewhere to live so ignoring common sense I followed the advice of the German running the internet café and looked at places in Townsvilles equivalent of Clifton which is about as far away as I can live from the uni but v.nice and where the bars are. So basically within 5 blocks of where I am now. It backs up the bit of unhelpful advice to myself about needing a car. This place is laid out like America and public transport is not your friend. I will persevere until I am employed. Or I can find a car.
The next couple of days are going to be uber productive, largely because they have to be and next time I write I hope to be housed, enrolled and looking for employment in a more serious fashion than wondering what could make me stand out from the 10,000 people that have already applied for the best job in the world. One bloke applied dressed as Bin Laden. As random as getting to Townsville airport and there being some bloke dressed in a white rabbit costume.
Right, its way past my bedtime and the DEET is wearing off. I accidentally turned over to an episode of Skins earlier which was really weird, all this talk of Brendon Hill and shots of Bristol. Not quite ready for that. Am very excited about the next few months though.
Until next time,
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