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“We peer so suspiciously at each other that we cannot see that we Canadians are standing on the mountaintop of human wealth, freedom and privilege.”
~ Pierre Elliott Trudeau

There’s a funny thing that happens when you travel through small rural communities in Australia…you’re actually, usually, mistaken for a local! I know we’d each like to think we’d stick out ; what, with our pulled-together looks, radiating charm, and big-city confidence?… but really we’re all the same.

So the locals assume you’re with them. Either that or, on the off-chance you really are that put together, they can spot the foreigner a mile away. Luckily, due to my wardrobe – or lack there of (I’ve spent months upon months wearing the same stuff and I can’t wait to burn most of them).. I don’t think I stick out much at all. Well, at least until I open my mouth. I will admit there’s something really nice about chatting to a checkout clerk and being told I have a lovely accent.

..a lovely Irish accent. Is it cold in Ireland? Right.

It’s nice not to stick out; to blend in. But then it’s always nice to be able to use your nationality as an excuse to decline unwanted solicitation. Example: While walking on any street, at anytime of day, in any part of Vietnam, one must have quick answers to questions that resemble, but are not limited to: “Where you going lady?”….”Cheap price for you?”…”You buy now?..Yes? Now? …Lady…big sizes lady…cheap for you, you buy?”  In most cases a simple direct “no thank you” doesn’t suffice. They stalk on. Shaking your head, waving your hands down to the ground; stern but passive, dead look in the eyes…this works sometimes (in Australian bars as well, but that’s another story). Now, when these street vendors and moto-drivers we speak of realize they’re not getting through with they’re promises of high quality good n’ services at dirt-cheap prices, the smart ones will pull out the big guns.

Their next question, as they follow beside you on the street: “Where you from lady?”

I can’t speak for everyone, but I grew up knowing that it’s only polite to answer when someone asks you a direct question about your native country…especially when you’re from such rad place – it’s like bragging. What’s the harm?

”Uh, Canada.”

Oh! CANADA!?! Canada: vvvvvery nnnnnice! Canada beeaaauuuutttiffffullll.” Their wide-eyed awe is hard to hide: they’ve been so very fortunate to have met someone from Europe!

The politeness continues, you can’t help but feel flattered at the reverie. ”Um, yeah…you been?”…

Oh shit. You’re in a conversation. What?!

Sneaky.

Well, after a few rounds of these blindsided attack on one’s good senses, it’s easy enough to avoid. You just make stuff up. It’s not hard. Take the name of your favourite animal or food and add -ville or Island. There you have it: a new country! Eggs Island (also in Europe). Unicornicopia is a favourite.

Oh, Unicornicopia? So verrry nicccce there….”

So it doesn’t actually work, but at least it’s amusing.

Anyway, I digress. I was going to write about Australia. I’m not going to write about Australia now though. There’s time for that. I have another couple of weeks here before I head to the Land of the Long White Cloud. I’m starting to get nostalgic for my year in Oz and I haven’t even left yet. Ridiculous.

“There are two mistakes that one can make on the road to truth…not going all the way, and not starting”

~Guatama Siddharta, The Buddha

So I’ve taken a short hiatus from writing – a small break.  I’ve not felt the overwhelming urge to share these past few weeks.

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My mind has been busy and private.  January 10th was a big day –  a very important day – and significant to so many people who read this blog.  I think I’ve needed some time to sort out exactly what this anniversary means to me; sometime to regroup and look at what I’ve (we’ve) been through.  I’ll let you know when I’ve figured it out…

There are moments I still find myself in disbelief at the chaos of the last couple of years.  I have a feeling these shock waves will strike for a long time to come. How do we get through this stuff…how have I made it?  One thing I know is that this year is extremely significant to me as it is both an end, and a beginning  Funny how that works, hey? …(it’s science).

Getting through the holidays was a triumph unto itself and frankly I  feel like a huge balloon of air has been expelled from my chest.  Definitely a lessening of pressure.  What sort of pressure? Well I’m not too sure, but the build up to that year was insurmountable.  I have made it and I’m still going.  I surprise myself sometimes.  I guess we all do.

Greens PoolsMy last couple of weeks in Western Australia were just great.  After New Years we packed into a friend’s caravan and hit the road.  We would travel ~500km southeast of Perth, cutting diagonally through the bareness of NoWheresVille, Australia, to hit the coast again and check out a little place called Denmark near the city Albany.  With absolutely no regard for its namesake – all that this small community lacks in European charm, it makes up for in abounding natural beauty.  Our hunt for waves proved fruitless, but we had fun exploring the beautiful coastline.  The water was so clear! The terraces and rocky cliffs ever expansive.  We cut across through Margaret River and found our own private beach – the kind of beach that comes to mind when you picture Australia but you’ve never been here.  No people, just sand and waves and sunshine.

We arrived back in Perth it was time to get to work.  I had located a small Christmas tree farm in the far Eastern suburbs that could use a helping hand in exchange for room and board.  Jann – the family matriarch – and I had been in touch and hit it off right away.  Claiming there was little work to be done around the property – due to the dryness and soaring temperatures – we agreed that I would do as much as I could, work-wise, and then spend the rest of my time swimming in the pool.  These are work conditions that I can feel confident in accepting.

Well my week with the family was just amazing.  I was accepted into the family with open arms.  Richard & His AlphornThis is one cool clique, and between their short bouts of conversing only in Swiss-German I was let in on their colourful history. Stories of living in Nigeria, and traveling the world kept me entertained at every meal.  We ate well, and talked well, and it was sad to leave.

This leaving stuff has to be the downside of traveling.  The connections we make as we go – this is the whole point of travel.  Scenery can be fantastic, awe-inspiring.  New cities and towns are (usually)  fun to explore. This is all fine and good,  but the relationships we create, both on the road and at home, are the core of the journey. With the freedom to pick-up -and-go comes the other side of the coin – saying goodbye…it gets old. There’s a reason we naturally settle down and get those roots in the ground.  Only a very special kind of person can keep up the transient lifestyle.

Jill 'n Kim Making the Most of the Final Days! So with only a few days left in the most remote capital city in the world– we planned a going away shindig and it was perfect. Altogether I have had the good luck and fortune to spend more than two months in Perth and the surrounds and have come to consider some of the people I have met there to be the type of friends that are life-long.  A barbeque on the beach…. guitars found their way to nearby laps….the astounding talent of my Western Australian friends was given the limelight.  Damn it – another goodbye.

The Rocks, SydneyAnd with the end comes a new beginning – this time the east coast    I touched down just in time to celebrate Australia Day in the country’s biggest city.  Old friends and new, we had a great time,  After years of practice in Canada, I feel I’m a bit of an expert at this type of celebration.  The sunshine, swimming, beer, and chaos of families running around – I felt right at home. ..

But I’m not….not yet.

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