A Travellerspoint blog

I'm Off to find the wizzard of OZ

I've landed.

sunny -17 °C

Some of us don't realize how far away certain places in the world actually are, until we read our flight details. In small-italicised grey font were the words; " this flight will arrive two days later". Two days of being cramped in a tiny air plane seat, crappy frozen meals, and that gas induced stomach ache I always get on planes ( shush, its all that pressure!!). The flight was not something I had been looking forward to, but the destination made it all seem worth it.

Mum and my little brother Nick drove me to the airport. To be honest, I was thinking about how I was going to miss Munchkin and Suzanna more (my Yorkie pup and cat). The conversation with mum was the exact same that I've heard for the past two weeks, all about her and how she needs help, and how this person did her wrong. Not for a second does she say, " So Amy, where you going? What are your plans? Are you going to be safe, will you have enough money? You can call me if you need anything?" Nope, she has absolutely no interest in why or where I am going. I wonder if the only reason she drove me to the airport was in hopes I would fill her gas tank for the next few days (which, of course I did). Nick on the other hand, as I love him to death, is just going through typical 11yr old behaviour. Suddenly they think they understand everything, (and they do a lot more than we think) and they develop this attitude! Where did that innocent little brother who adored me go? :( I asked him to hangout with me before I left, I wanted to make an animal-tracking booklet and trek through the trails by our house and track some animals, maybe even a coyote! The snow makes for excellent tracking. I was so excited!! Giddy like a child myself, I starting researching different tracks, printing them out and getting descriptions ready.... and he took off to a friend’s house for the night. I was crushed.

So here we are, at the airport!! Bags are checked, boarding passes in hand and I'm ready to make my escape!... But not before lunch with the family one last time (great, I know who’s picking up this tab). Silence. Then we cheers with our root beers and Coors light. Me practically drinking the whole bottle in one sip. Hot wings get placed on the table so potent just the smell is enough to make your nose drip. Nick and I dig in, giggling the whole time how messy we are getting. I'm kinda thankful now that I stopped for lunch, who knows if the next time I see Nick his giggle won't be that of a child’s but of a adolescence boy, in which puberty transformed his giggle into a deep laugh.
After checking the time and realizing I better be off now, i give my last hugs and run off down the corridor. Finally alone, running down the airport, I feel free again. It's just me now and all I have to worry about is getting on that plane!

Now the excitements starting to take hold, and I'm already smiling ear to ear when the phone rings. It's Rob! It's so good to hear that English accent on the other end. I wished he was there about to board that plane with me, but a phone call would suffice.

Section by section they start to load us up and pack us is. I love how people get so nervous when stowing and seating. The pressure is on! You know there’s about a hundred some odd people behind you so you better find your correct seat and sort your carry on above in record time. That hefty lady behind you may just get jammed if she squeezed in that isle any longer. Lucky me, she found her seat. Directly in front of mine!

Once settled, I start to overhear conversations of Australia. Soon I realise there’s two girls on a work and holiday as well. Of course I turn around and join conversation. Suddenly several other from the same section of the plane join in. Seven people in four rows were all making the same journey. What a relief! Contrary of what my friends back home believe, I'm not just crazy. There are plenty of people giving up everything to explore and make it on their own. It was very comforting to hear everyone’s plans. On of the girls name was Emily. She's from the Boston area as well and just so happens we were on all the same flights to Sydney (yea, i take the cheapest flights with about every transfer they can fit in). Now instead of getting lost in the airports alone, I now have a friend to get lost with, YAY.
When we transferred from LAX to Fiji, i got separated from Emily for a moment. Air Pacific has THE friendliest stewards/ess but THE WORST security! Every transfer, you have to go through another security check, and the one in LAX, I’ll never forget. I had just walked through the metal detector and my bag was going through the X ray when there was a group of men whom started screaming somewhere off to the side. Security guards told everyone to freeze! No one move! I thought, OH SHIT! Is this for real? Just my luck there’s a fucking terrorist on holiday to Fiji!! I remember looking at the X ray machine and thinking, if I just drop down and a little back I could matrix my way outta the gunfire. No lie, I was prepared to do some special affects stunt moves!! The men started yelling again, security looked a little nervous, then we heard ALL CLEAR. And that was that. Security just went back to whatever it was that they were doing. I thought for sure I was hallucinating. I got my bag and said, Umm...Sir what was that that just happened, I'd like to know BEFORE i get on the plane. He casually said, just a drill with a big cheeky smile.

This flight was going to be the longest of them all, and the one I dreaded the most. Luckily within the first 2 minutes of sitting down I had already laughed myself nearly to tears. Here is where I met Chris, an Aussie who had lived in the States for a few years and is now going home. And a funny shit at that! After a few hours of a good laugh, we cheers with some Australian Rum and cokes, along with some sleeping pills and fell asleep. We got a good 6-8 hr sleep. Not bad. Overall, that was the best damn flight ever, and I had a good impression on what Aussies were like. Fiji airport was a nightmare. AGAIN, security! There was no one directing us where to go, it was like 5 am and our 747, with a few hundred people, just landed at this tiny airport. But they DID have a live band playing some traditional Fiji music. :) Chris and I found ourselves almost at the front of the line to get through security when we were told that we were in the wrong line, most of the line was, in fact, so we all had to redirect to the end of the line!! There were a lot of unhappy campers. Hot and sweaty at that!! Being the airport was almost as if it were outdoors and Fiji was hot and humid.
After about an hour and a half in the security line we made it in!! I went to the bathroom and showered in the sink. lol. Tried my best to wash my greasy hair and dry it under the hand dryer, washed my face brushed my teeth and changed into some damn cooler clothes! (I would like someone to invest in a washroom station for travellers at the airports. Showers please! We all need them after 2 days of flying!!!!) Emily, Chris and Myself waited around until our flights. A good 4 more hours. Really glad to have met them two, though. It almost felt as if we were best of friends travelling together, strange how travelling alone does that. The time went by fast with all that goofing around, and we were kinda sad to say bye to Chris as he was going to Brisbane.
Fiji was beautiful, lush and green and very tropical. I rested my head against the window and felt such an ache in my heart that Rob wasn’t there with me. It’s been about two days for me since I haven’t spoken to him. That’s the longest since we met. lol. He stayed on my mind a good 2 hours until I finally dozed off. Soon after waking up we were making our way off the plane and I was running towards Natalie Sel and Dave. God I must have looked like a child jumping up and down with joy. It was so good seeing these familiar faces again. It still blows my mind how one trip to Africa so greatly changed my life!!!
The whole drive home, I just kept thinking. WOW, I'm in Australia! Even later that night when we all met Cass for dinner and I was looking at the Sydney harbour bridge and the Sydney Opera house, I just couldn't believe I was there. Dave got stuck at some street performer on our way to dinner. I was embarrassed this guy was from America. He just went on and on (kinda like this bog) Dave was his strong assistant and added his own sense of humour to the act. His job was to hold this unicycle that was three tires high, while "BOB" did a running jump up onto the seat. Then Bob’s shirt got stuck and the seat pinched his manly area. haha. Dave did a good job stalling to fix the problem and the crowed got a good laugh. An hour and a half later we were on our way to meet Cass. We were all in such great spirits seeing each other again that the wine disappeared quickly. I felt bad as I had to borrow money off of Dave and Sel being no one would accept my traveller’s cheques and I couldn't go to the bank till the next day. But dinner was lovely!! We reminisced about Karongwe a great deal, shared some great food and later, ice cream :)
The next day Sel and Dave took me to the beach where they film Home and Away? I think. Some Aussie soap. Beautiful Beach! The water here is very blue. Not crystal clear like the Caribbean, but a hell of a lot nicer than the states. One thing though, there’s so much evil in those waters. The blue bottles with their ten feet of torturous tentacles, those damn sharks that like to hangout even in 3 feet of water, with their rows and rows of jagged razor sharp teeth. Yeah, I was ready to go in the water all right!!!!!! I don't know how Dave and Sel convinced me in, but inch-by-inch I was soon jumping and diving over and under the waves sometimes in water up to my neck. But don't think for one second I wasn't looking around for some mysterious shadow. We stayed in for a good amount of time, pretty much until we were exhausted and dehydrated. We went back in for some lunch and for some rest. Just as we settled back in on shore, this loud siren started to go off. What the? Everyone stood up to see if someone was being rescued from a rip current, maybe a surfer collision? All the swimmers were now evacuated out of the water and standing on shore waiting for an explanation. Everyone’s eyes were curiously fixed on the surf, but still no answers. The lifeguards went up and down the beach, in pretty shallow water about right where we were maybe even closer. I looked at the both of them and said, tell me it’s a fucking shark!! Imagine, my first time at the beach, being absolutely TERRIFIED of sharks, and there’s a shark about right where I was swimming. WELCOME TO ASURALIA. I asked the lifeguard what was going on and she confirmed my fear. A surfer claimed a shark about a meter long went under his board! Nice one.
Later that night we met with Cass for some free opera in the park. I think they estimated about 100, 000 people to be there. We found a cozy spot to lay our blanket and start on our cheese, cracker, and wine. It wasn't long before the appetizers were gone and we realized we were all still hungry, being that our only dinner. Well, we'll just have to drink more wine I suppose. The Opera started, the sun was setting, we clanked our plastic wine filled mugs together in celebration. Huge fruit bats flew overhead, and with a slight buzz, I was in ecstasy. This was such a perfect way to end a perfect day at the beach. Before we knew it, the two bottles of wine were gone and we were moving to the champagne. It seems as if when the opera was getting more intense we were getting drunk, almost as if it was the soundtrack to our night. I admit we were becoming a little loud and having too much fun. We couldn’t stop laughing! We were being shushed by some old, gay man on the side of us, when Dave replied " If you wanted to watch the opera, pay the damn money for the real opera. This is what you get when you go to the FREEBIE" that’s when the night just became a blur. I know we had a great night, thankfully I didn't embarrass myself too much, however, I was wearing a wrap dress that decided to come unwrapped a few times! Oh and, I kinda upset Rob when I told him about some guy who had been trying to pick me up (it was funny at the time, but I guess it was a " you had to be there" kind of funny). Sel and I were amazed how we got so drunk on so little. Must have been the empty stomaches. Until I opened my wallet and said.. Oh no I've been robbed! Suddenly a flash back of Cass and I buying two more bottles of wine.. OOOOOOhhh that explains it.
Australias been pretty great so far. Dave and Sel have helped me every step of the way to settle in, obviously treatment that I'm not used to, but must admit, am VERY grateful for. They help sort out my phone, my banking, my job! Gave me a place to stay at the mo. I mean, they are truly GREAT people.
At the moment, I'm just getting ready to start work. Robs coming over and we have big plans to rent a wicked van and travel up north to the Great Barrier Reef. Will take about 16 days. I'm just excited to live in a campervan that we get to paint and design ourselves!!! woohoo. Still taking ideas...? AND, we're trying to go to Fiji as well for my birthday and maybe camp out on Fraser Island! So much to do, so I need to start working ASAP! Robs also talking about coming out sooner, so that clearly has me smiling!!

So keep reading.. I'll have more exciting adventurous going on soon!! :O)

Posted by amsie55 15:35 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Only one more week till my departure! :O)

"The best of travelers don't necessarily have a plan, just a direction."

Theres only one more week left until I'm ready to embark on my journey down under. As with any major life adventure, anxieties tend to creep up. Will I have enough money? where will I go? will I be able to find work? These silly frets are soon suppressed by the sheer excitement of the unknown. They say the best travelers don't necessarily have a plan, just a direction. My direction is down on an island positioned in between the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

I'm truly fortunate to have made some good friends on a previous trip to South Africa, those of which reside in Australia. When first arriving, I'm staying with Selina and Dave in Sydney. Sel has also offered me a casual working position at the horse track where she works. Job and accommodation security apon arrival is a rare deal for backpackers! I can't stress how privileged, and appreciative I am. Also, I'll be a neighbor to Cassey and only a short train ride from Natalie. Two others from South Africa. We have organized dinner and drinks at the Opera House on the night I fly in. Hopefully I won't fall asleep, face down in my dinner due to the affects of Jet lag. Australia is 15 hours ahead of the eastern US coast!! Regardless, It's going to be superb seeing so many people from SA! Naydene and Jody are on the opposite side of OZ, but we'll catch up while I'm there, guaranteed! I'm trying to convince everyone from the SA expedition to come to Australia for a big reunion, so far, we've got half.

As for my plans in Australia. I only know this...

I have a work and holiday visa good for 1 year ( two if I re-apply)
I'm starting off in Sydney
I plan to go to Fiji for my birthday
Rob comes to join me in April :)
I have 6 incredible friends there that I'm sure will guide me in the right direction!
It's going to be an adventure of a lifetime.

I want to share this journey with you all, maybe inspire some to embark on a journey of their own. :)
hope you keep posted.

till next time...........:)

Posted by amsie55 10:56 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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