Thursday, January 29, 2015

Back in Cairns

It's lovely to be back in Cairns, if only just for 12 days.  I arrived back "home" last Thursday, exhausted, but glad to be back.  Jay & Tim seemed happy to see me back and after a quick chat told me when I'd work my next shifts.  I was so happy it wasn't raining when I got to volleyball that first night.  Wally yelled at me for not telling him I was leaving (I hadn't seen him for quite awhile before I left so it was his fault not mine), Nina asked how Rith was doing and if he'd gone back to Cambodia yet.  To my surprise Stefan showed up as well!  I'd thought I'd missed my chance to see say goodbye (he was supposed to leave Cairns the same day I did and I'd missed seeing him the night before I left), but the job didn't pan out so unluckily for him, he's still here.  Over the next couple days I worked in reception and went to volleyball every night - even in the rain and drizzle.  As long as it doesn't rain too hard it's actually quite pleasant because it keeps you cool.  I'd sent an email update about my trip to my old coworkers and got a reply from my boss.  He basically asked if I wanted my old job back when I get home.  I'm still desperately trying to figure out what I want to do when I return, taking into account the actual length of time I might even be home.  I'd love to come back to Cairns, and Jay even told me he could help me with a student visa and showed me some of the courses I could take, but I still have so much of the world left that I want to visit as well.  Freedom paradox - too many options.  On Sunday night Pastor Josh talked about their vision for their church in 2015 and the motto for the year is "Intentionally Following Jesus".  Thinking about my year ahead (for me it feels as if the year doesn't really start until I get home), what I want to do, where I want to go, while also realizing, as my blog name proclaims, I have to make decisions on purpose.  It's more than that of course because part of it is what does God have for me, how can the decisions I make about my life revolve around following Jesus.  Not an easy question to answer of course, but something I'm struggling with as I try to make these decisions.  Going to back to my old job would definitely be easiest.  But is the easiest answer the best answer for me?  I wish I knew....

Anyway, Monday was Australia Day so a bunch of us celebrated by having a BBQ (it doesn't get much more Australian than that, especially when you take into account all the flies).  Caterina's friends Simona & Simone opened their home to us and Emma, Jordan and I went together, with Max and Pukari arriving later on in the afternoon.  We played volleyball (it was a really short net - in both height and width - but we made it work), had some basketball shooting competitions with an arcade-style hoop game (I actually won some of those competitions, believe it or not), and cooled down in their tiny swimming pool.  It was an incredibly hot afternoon, just the tiniest amount of movement was too much, so all the sports made us quite sweaty.  When they went out to buy more ice they grabbed a few extra bags and chucked them in the swimming pool for good measure.  Emma was leaving Cairns the next morning so she had to leave the party a bit early, so I decided I'd share a taxi with her back into town and just go to volleyball since it was only about 8pm.

On Wednesday (yesterday) I was blessed to get some hours at the Casino during the day, so it was a win-win.  I get paid work and I don't have to miss volleyball to do it!  We were serving a lunch for the Cairns Chamber of Commerce, and since the state elections are this weekend it was much larger than usual as they were staging a debate for the local candidates.  There were over 300 guests and it was broadcast live on the radio and there were also news cameras, so we all had to be really quiet and careful with what we said.  I lucked out and didn't have to do any food running, and I didn't spill or break anything either, so it was a good shift.  Another incredibly hot day, so volleyball was quite sweaty last night.  It was tons of fun though because just about everyone was there at some point and I got to play quite a bit as well.  Ok, obviously I get to play every night, but some nights it's really busy so you have to sit out and wait your turn to get back on the court (unless you're lucky enough to have a winning team that doesn't have to leave).  I got to play with the really good players at the end of the night last night and actually didn't feel like I was a handicap to them, so that makes me feel like I'm getting better.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Marvelous Melbourne

On our first day back from our Great Ocean Road trip we went out for lunch at a great Chinese restaurant near Rith's house.  It was my first time trying roast duck, but it was excellent and Rith told me it's the best he's ever had outside China.  We'd made plans the night before to meet up with some old friends from Cairns to play beach volleyball that afternoon, so after lunch we made a quick stop in Brighton to see the Bathing Boxes.
They're basically really cute sheds (no running water or electricity), well, cute and expensive - selling prices last year were around A$260,000 (source)!  Some of them are absolutely adorable though, and most are passed down through the family for generations.  We soon ran out of time and headed to the volleyball courts for our reunion!  It was really nice to see Ben, Kayleigh, and Tom again, and to catch up on everyone's plans.  Luckily we were able to find a French guy who wanted to play, so we had a few games of 3-on-3.  It was really windy so the games had an added level of difficulty, but we still had lots of fun.  We did all agree though that it's nothing like playing in Cairns - it just doesn't have the atmosphere.  We all headed our separate ways after a few hours, with Rith & I heading to Williamstown to look around for a bit before heading back to his house for a late dinner.  As I've said before (maybe not on this blog, but I have said it), Rith is a really good cook and I've enjoyed all the Asian-style foods he cooked while I stayed with him.

The next day we decided to head to the Mornington Peninsula so I texted Rita (another friend from Cairns volleyball) to see if she wanted to come along with us.  She did so we picked her up and headed south.  More beaches and cute coastal towns, similar to the ones along the Great Ocean Road, but maybe classier.
 It was a beautiful day, but sadly we didn't bring swimsuits & towels or we could have had a lovely time in the water.  It was a fun day out despite the lack of swimming & sunbathing time (and we got to see more bathing boxes).  We did a hike at the end of the Peninsula to see some old forts and then headed back to Melbourne.

On my last day we headed to the Rippon Lea Estate, one of the last of Australia's grand suburban estates.
The house was designed in the Victorian Italianate style, which was a popular expression in Victoria's gold boom period. The 14 acre garden includes a large fernery, arboreum, grotto, waterfall, tower, ornamental lake with islands, and an orchard of heritage apple species.  It's a lovely place and I can understand why it's such a popular wedding venue.  After our visit to the gardens and a tour of the house we headed into downtown Melbourne to take a 3 hour walking tour of all the main highlights of the city.  Melbourne is known for its art scene, street graffiti, shopping arcades, and of course food.

Royal Exhibition Building
 After the tour we met up with two of our friends, Jenny & Rachel, from our Tassie tour and enjoyed dinner on the terrace, looking out onto Federation Square, with a view of the big screen showing the Australian Open.  Rachel and Jenny had actually gone to some of the matches the night before, but we it was fun to watch on the screen with everyone sitting in the square too.  Rita came down and joined us for a bit as well, so we had a nice group.  
We watched some of Nadal's game, but they were mostly showing the game between Tomic (one of their Australian players) and Kohlschrieber, a German.  Tomic won, as did Nadal, so it was a good evening of tennis and I enjoyed chatting with everyone and watching the tennis matches.  Despite staying out too late and missing the last buses and trains to the station where we left the car (we had to take a taxi back), it was a fun last night in Melbourne.  While I enjoyed my trip is was nice to come "home" to Cairns, if even for only 12 days.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Roadtrip Along the Great Ocean Road

I arrived in Melbourne late Thursday night and Rith picked me up from my hostel the next morning so we could start our three day trip along the Great Ocean Road. You'll have to bear with me on this post as it will mostly be photos. But first, some history.  The Great Ocean Road started as a project to create work for returned servicemen after WWI.
 It's now the World's Biggest War Memorial and was hand-built by some 3,000 veterans in honor of their fallen comrades.  Built from 1918 to 1932 it symbolized the sacrifice made by so many during the war.

Our first stop was a quick visit to the beach in Geelong and then out onto the Bellarine Peninsula.
We then headed to Queenscliff and visited a lighthouse before enjoying a true Aussie lunch of meat pies at Rolling Pin Pies & Cakes.  Our next stop was Torquay and nearby Bells Beach, Australia's most- loved and best-known surfing beach.  It's the site of the world's longest running professional surfing event the Rip Curl Pro Easter Classic.  We saw a few surfers, but the big waves are in the winter when the event is held.
From Bells Beach we continued on to the town of Anglesea and then Aireys Inlet where we visited the 34 meter high Split Point Lighthouse.
Our last stop of the day was in the town of Lorne where we would be spending the night.  We took a walk along the shore and down to the pier.  As we were leaving the pier a freak rain storm swept through so we ran for cover to the restaurant at the end of the pier.  By the time we arrived the rain had stopped and as we turned around to look back out at the pier we saw a perfect rainbow!  It was incredibly bright and you could even see a second one above it for a little while.  Every time I see a rainbow I think of my friend Megan, and this rainbow was extra special because I could see both ends. The sun came out in full force moments later and we watched as the rainbows slowly disappeared.

We started Day 2 enjoying some breakfast baked goods while sitting on the beach watching some morning surfers as the sun broke through the clouds.  Not a bad way to start the day if you ask me!
We stopped at Erskine Falls on our way out of town and then at Apollo Bay.  We enjoyed some blueberries purchased at a stall in the weekend markets and then headed on down the road.  Our next stop was Cape Otway to visit the oldest lighthouse on mainland Australia, only to find out you can't visit it without paying $20 per person, and we weren't that interested so we left.  From that point on we visited so many lookouts along the road I could barely keep track: Cape Patton Lookout, Mariner's Lookout, Maits Rest, Gibson Steps, etc.  
Mariner's Lookout - Apollo Bay
 It was also the day we saw all the famous landmarks of the Great Ocean Road, such as Loch Ard Gorge, London Arch (formerly a bridge), and the Twelve Apostles.  
Clockwise: Loch Ard Gorge, London Arch, & Twelve Apostles
An interesting tidbit about the London Bridge/Arch: it was a complete double-span natural bridge until the span closer to the shoreline collapsed in 1991.  That unexpected event left two tourists stranded on the outer span until a helicopter could come rescue them.  Talk about a travel memory!  One of our last stops before arriving in Warrnambol for the night was Bay of Martyrs.  The sun, breaking through some of the clouds, was streaming down and illuminating the water in some places; it was quite lovely.
We spent the night at a home in Warrnambol that we found in and we really enjoyed the other guests; a Dutch family and a Welsh/American & English couple.  It was fun to share travel stories and hear about everyone's adventures in Australia so far.  I don't know if any of you have heard of the dogs that protect a colony of penguins, but it's a fascinating story and they actually just finished filming a movie, "Oddball", based on the story (to be released this year).  Well, the island (Middle Island) is off the coast of Warrnambool and you can visit the penguin colony on a tour, if you're lucky to be there on the right day - we weren't.  Anyway, It's a cool story anyway and hopefully I can see the film when it comes out.

Our last morning we headed to the delightful little coastal town of Port Fairy; it was named "World's Most Liveable Village" in 2012.  They have a small island, Griffiths Island" right off the shore on the edge of town with the most picturesque lighthouse I've ever seen. 
 We took the walking track around the island and got some great photos of the lighthouse because of the perfect weather.  After checking out all the beautiful coastal homes along the wharf we started our return journey back to Melbourne.  We didn't head back the way we came, but instead took the shorter road through the pasture-land further north.  It was a fantastic trip and I'm so glad Rith was willing to take me because I wouldn't have been able to see near as many things if I'd have had to take one of the 1-day tours offered.

Friday, January 16, 2015

A Tassie-tastic Time

Henty Sand Dunes
Tasmania, the "West Virginia" of Australia (no really, they joke about people from Tassie marrying their cousins and stuff).  It's an amazing place with some very neat things to see.  We started our 6 day tour with Under Down Under on Friday (Jan. 9th) in Hobart.  I'll do my best to give an interesting overview of our week, but I'll be honest we saw so much you'll really only get the highlights.  I hadn't really anticipated how much colder it would be down south, and although I had thought I'd packed a pair of pants, it turns out I did not.... I was lucky enough to be able to fit into a pair of Rith's pants so I wore them on a few of the colder days. Summer in Tasmania is not as warm as you might think.

We had a really good group with a nice mix of people, including 5 Australians (I count Rith in that total since he's lived here 95% of his life). To be honest the first day wasn't that impressive in terms of what we saw, but we stayed the night in this great little town called Strahan and saw a beautiful sunset.
 I had not been offered the previously mentioned pants yet and was freezing cold while eating our BBQ dinner.  When the time came to head out to view the sunset I ended up wearing my beach towel wrapped around my legs.  Joh found it amusing, but a girl's got to do what a girl's got to do!  Joh is a teacher from Sydney (she reminded me of my Aunt Cindy) and she hung out with Rith and I quite a bit on the trip.

The next day I wore the pants (thank you Rith!!) for our boat cruise down the Gordon River.  I always love being on the water, so I thoroughly enjoyed that day.  We cruised out into the Port Macquarie Harbor and saw the cutest little lighthouse on the edges of Hells Gates (the narrow entry to the harbor named by the convicts on their way to the Hell on earth of Sarah Island).
 We did a tour of the old convict settlement of Sarah Island and it was one of the highlights of the cruise because our guide was an amazing story-teller and made the history of the island come alive.  It's actually a rather fascinating place, in terms of its history: "This isolated island was a Penal Settlement between 1822 and 1833, established, before the more well-known Port Arthur, as a place of 'secondary' punishment, an attempt to control the uncontrollable (source)."  Another cool thing about this area of Tassie is the Huon pines that grow here.
The wood doesn't rot, and the trees don't even start to reproduce until they're 500 years old and they only grow in Tasmania, nowhere else in the world. The true highlight of the day though was attending the play "The Ship That Never Was" (it's the longest running play in Australia with over 5,000 performances) --
It's January 1834. The Frederick, the last ship built at the convict settlement of Sarah Island in Macquarie Harbour, is about to sail for the new prison at Port Arthur. Ten convict shipwrights have other ideas. So begins the story of an amazing escape, an extraordinary voyage and an intriguing twist in the tale of The Ship That Never Was......performing in Strahan since 1993...The play tells the dramatic and hilarious true story of the Great Escape from Sarah Island! 
There were only 2 actors in the play, so they used audience members for some of the roles which actually made the play all the more humorous (mostly because I was NOT chosen to be a character).  No one should leave Strahan without going to see this play (if you visit in the off season you'd be excused because they only perform during tourist season).  It was enhanced by having visited the island earlier and knowing more of the history of the convict settlement there, but the play would have still been entertaining without that background knowledge.

On Sunday (day 3) we did hike in Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.  It was a beautiful, clear day and actually quite warm.  Travis (our guide) gave us three options for our hike: easy, medium, and hard.  90% of decided to do the medium with the option of continuing on for the harder portion if we so desired later on.  The medium grade hike was quite difficult in my opinion, so when we reached the summit many of us weren't sure if we really wanted to attempt the difficult track.  But when Travis said you can see all of Tasmania from the top Rith exclaimed, "All right everyone, let's go!"  It made us all laugh and most of us decided we might as well, we had already made it this far, we'd probably never be back, so Carpe Diem! In the end I'm so glad I did because the "hard" part (climbing and scrambling up a steep rock face) was sooo much easier (and enjoyable), for me, than the previous part.
The "summit" where we decided if we wanted to
climb up the mtn. top in this photo.
It was quite steep!
  I truly enjoyed the last leg of the hike, and the view from the top was spectacular. It was a 6 hour hike and my knee did not appreciate a lot of the terrain, but it was a great day anyway.

I had a few highlights on day 4.  The first one was that Lisa joined our morning walk around Cataract Gorge. You might remember me mentioning her and Sam a few months back -they worked at Bohemia when I first arrived in Cairns, they live right outside Launceston and it was great to catch up with her and hear how their last few months of traveling had gone.  It was a bit discouraging to hear how hard she was finding being back home and not traveling - I'm anticipating a similar fate - but it was great to see her again.  The second highlight was Bay of Fires: I have NEVER seen so many shades of blue in the water - God's a fabulous artist.
 It was incredible and I took so many photos, but it's just not the same as being there in person.  To finish off the day I got to do a Penguin tour in Bicheno to see Fairy Penguins in the wild.  You can't take pictures of them, but I've always wanted to see penguins outside a zoo (not sure when I'll get to Antarctica so this was my chance) and they are absolutely adorable!!

On Day 5 we visited the famous Wineglass Bay and also a wildlife sanctuary to see Tasmanian Devils and feed kangaroos.

On our last day we did a tour of Port Arthur, which is officially Tasmania's top tourist attraction.  When they closed Sarah Island they sent the prisoners to Port Arthur.
"From 1833, until 1853, it was the destination for the hardest of convicted British criminals, those who were secondary offenders having re-offended after their arrival in Australia. Rebellious personalities from other convict stations were also sent here, a quite undesirable punishment. In addition Port Arthur had some of the strictest security measures of the British penal system.....Despite its reputation as a pioneering institution for the new, enlightened view of imprisonment, Port Arthur was still in reality as harsh and brutal as other penal settlements. Some critics might even suggest that its use of psychological punishment, compounded with no hope of escape, made it one of the worst." source
It was actually astounding how cruel prisons were back then.  They did have some beautiful old homes and cottages you could tour, as well as the remains of a large cathedral.  We didn't really have near enough time to visit everything there was to see, but it was an interesting spot.

Whew...what a trip!  Rith and I had a wonderful time and since several of our group were actually heading to Melbourne after Tasmania we were able to meet up with a few people the next week (but more on that tomorrow).  Hope you enjoyed this glimpse into my tour of Tasmania!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Fitzroy Island

Instead of a BBQ this past Tuesday we decided to try a trip to Fitzroy Island instead.  Unfortunately, due to the cost, it meant less people came.  In the end it was Caterina, Jordan, Max, and I and we also had Roberto (Caterina’s boyfriend), Simone, Elisa, and Andreas – all friend’s of Caterina & Roberto.  We were lucky enough to have a partly sunny morning for our trip to the island.
 The island is beautiful and since we had booked an Activities Package we had full use of the ocean trampoline, snorkel gear, SUP, kayaks, and paddles skis.  We started the day by donning our full-body stinger suits and heading to the beach area where you have the best luck spotting sea turtles (mainly due to its proximity to the islands turtle rehabilitation hospital) to do some snorkeling.  Lucky for me, I finally saw one!!  The water around the island was rather murky that day so it was a bit hard to see, but thankfully someone did spot the big guy and we were able to gather round and get some photos of it.
 After some snorkeling we headed back to the beach hut to collect our lunches.  As we were finishing our lunch it started to sprinkle a bit so we headed to the Foxy’s Bar to put our stuff under the tents on the patio. The rain didn’t last long though, so Jordan and Max decided to head to Nudey Beach to do some snorkeling; due to time constraints (the beach hut where you hire out the equipment closed at 3:30) I decided to try the SUP before I missed my chance.
 I loved it, not that I was surprised at that, but I also found it to be quite easy to balance, which I was worried about.  It’s definitely a workout for your core and upper body, especially when trying to paddle against the wind to get back!

The signs said that it took about 20 minutes to walk to Nudey Beach and since we had to turn our stinger suits and snorkel gear back in by 3:30 we decided we’d turn everything in before walking there that way we wouldn’t have to rush back (the boat didn’t leave until 4:30pm).  Unfortunately for us, it started raining on the walk there…  The photos of the beach on a sunny day are spectacular, but of course on a rainy, cloudy day it’s not exactly the same.  Still pretty though:

We headed back to the bar and while the rest of them enjoyed a beer, Caterina, Jordan, Max, & I passed the volleyball around to kill some time.  About 20 minutes before the boat came it finally stopped raining, so at least we had a decent ride back to Cairns.  It was a lovely day and I got to cross two more things off my list: SUP and spotting a sea turtle.

Well, I'm sitting in the Sydney airport writing this, I had a busy day yesterday packing everything up and then hanging out with Mark & Namana in the afternoon.  We ended up going to a driving range and Kevin, his girlfriend, Davis, and Jimmy (all from volleyball as well, except for Kevin's girlfriend) ended up joining us as well.  The guys enjoyed hitting the golf balls, and even coerced me into hitting a few.  Definitely will not be taking up real golf any time soon, but it was enjoyable enough on a rainy Cairns afternoon.  We all went to lunch at KFC before heading our separate ways.  When I got to volleyball there were only about 8 people playing, but they waved me over as soon as I arrived telling me to join (even though it made the teams uneven).  As soon as I stepped onto the court it started to rain, thankfully not very hard.  It did drizzle for most of the night though.  Mark, Namana, and Max came and joined us so then we had an even number.  We had some good games, lots of fun despite the dreary weather.  Julisai and his Dad left at 8pm though and took the ball with them so we all ended up leaving as well.  Stefan hadn't arrived, and I got a message from him this morning apologizing that he'd been late to volleyball and missed me.  Turns out it was his last day in Cairns, so when I get back he'll have already left.  A bit sad, he's tons of fun, but I guess that's just a bit of preparation for when I have to leave Cairns and say goodbye to everyone.  I'm trying to just focus on my trip to Tassie & Melbourne and not think about how little time I'll have left in Cairns when I return.  Well, hopefully I can manage to keep you all semi-updated during my travels in the next two weeks.  If not I'll do my best to do an overview of the trip when I get back.  Cheers!

Sunday, January 4, 2015


I had just finished eating dinner when I got a text asking if  I could work at 6:30pm.  I didn't really want to (I'd rather go to volleyball), but it was a short shift, just three hours, so I told them I could.  It was a food running shift and I got there and they explained all the table numbers and how to read the food slips.  Long story short, I basically got fired at 8pm.  The owner (he seemed cranky all night) just came up to me and said, "You can leave.  I asked them to send me someone professional who could 3-plate carry." I said, "ok" and grabbed my bag from behind the bar and left.  The woman who had explained the job to me was busy so I didn't even bother attempting to get my timesheet signed.  It probably wouldn't have been so annoying except I don't really know what I did wrong.  I didn't mix up any of the orders or tables, didn't drop or break anything...  I did forget to put a bowl of vegetables onto another plate before taking it to a table (which I think is crazy and a waste of dishes, but whatever), and he yelled at me for that, but that's it.  My 3-plate carrying skills are definitely not my strongest skill, but I've managed on my shifts at the casino.  Australia has been full of "firsts" so I guess it was about time I experienced that "first". Anyway, it was still early enough that if I ran to volleyball I'd still get over an hour of playing time in, so I hurried home knowing some exercise would help with the frustration.

When I arrived it actually wasn't that busy.  Jordan and Max were sitting out when I arrived (but were done playing for the night) so I chatted with them a bit while waiting to get on the court.  Abel showed up as well and I found some other random people, so with Gus joining us (he'd been on the other team) we were able to make the next 6.  We were playing against Stephanie, Des, Jason, and some other people I didn't know, but we managed to hold our own.  Sadly, not far into the second game it started to drizzle a bit.  We kept playing, but by the middle of the third game it had started raining harder so when that game ended we all went to sit under the awning.  It's just canvas though, so when it really starts to rain it eventually leaks.  It didn't look like it would let up in enough time to play another game before the lights went out so I put my shoes back on and headed home.

It's definitely the official start to the rainy season - I woke up early this morning because it was raining so hard.  Saw online that 95mm (almost 4 inches) of rain have fallen in Cairns in the last 24 hours, most of it this morning.  I'm just hoping it stops in time to go to volleyball - I only have so many days left in Cairns to play volleyball!!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

A New Year

"'Cause I been waiting all my life for a break like this. It's my chance of a lifetime, I just know it is.  I gotta go find these dreams,' was the last thing that I said.  And then I did."
Sitting in reception, the above Rascal Flatts song came on the radio and those lines  struck a cord with me. Something along those lines was what was going through my head this time last year as I prepared to head off into the unknown land down under.  How long would I last?  Would I hate it?  Is this crazy?  I didn't have the answers, but I had so many incredible people supporting me.  I'm amazed when I meet people who are 18 and 19 who are doing the same thing.  I'm not sure I could have done this by myself at 18.  Looking back now, I'm sort of amazed I did it, even at 25!  I never could have imagined all the experiences I've had, all the people I've met. There have been struggles, and even tears, but I feel as if I've learned so much.  I don't have any New Year's Resolutions, but I think a bit of reflection is good sometimes - time to count your blessings and remember the life lessons you've (hopefully) learned.

 In a way I'm kind of excited to see where God takes me in 2015.  I just know He's going to use my time in Australia later in my life.  It may take 5 years before He shows me how and why, like my time teaching English in Japan, but I feel as if this year has opened up so many opportunities for me.  Many of the opportunities have always been there, but I'm not sure I'd have had the courage to attempt them before.  I'm finishing "Do Hard Things" by Brett & Alex Harris and am definitely enjoying it.  It's written for teenagers, but has excellent advice for any age.  I definitely shy away from things that are difficult or hard, but the rewards, I've been learning this past year, are definitely worth it.  When you have people supporting, praying for, and encouraging the difficult things are so much easier.  So here's to 2015 - may your life be full of people encouraging you to chase your dreams and accomplish things in life that are important, no matter how big or small.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2015 Already?

It's crazy how the time flies, I can hardly believe that it's already 2015!  I've been to volleyball every night and have of course been having lots of fun.  It's strange how now that I'll be leaving soon I feel as if I'm actually getting to know people better.  I went to Barron Gorge with Mark on Tuesday (friend from volleyball) - he'd decided to skip school and was bored; I had nothing better to do so figured I may as well tag along.  He's from the Philippines and has a pretty large extended family here.  One of his cousins has a farm in a nearby town, they grow lychees and farm fish as well (barramundi), so sometimes he helps out there.  When I got back I got a phone call from Jordan saying that he and Max were heading to the lagoon and wanted to know if I wanted to meet them there.  It's crazy hot and humid here so I texted Caterina to see if she wanted to come along as well.  Cat couldn't stay long, but it was a good afternoon and being in the water the whole time kept the temperatures more bearable.

Yesterday, I was getting ready to spend the afternoon sitting by my pool (or maybe in my pool) reading a book when Jordan called again to let me know they were heading to the lagoon.  It was already kind of late in the afternoon (I had to work last night), but I figured I may as well walk down there and hang out with them for a bit.  Max, Jordan, and I just stood around in the water chatting, interrupted on occasion by small children asking Jordan to toss them into the air.  Stefan came as well, but by the time he arrived it was about time for me to leave.  We all got out of the water when e arrived because he didn't get in and he'd brought Oreo's (so it didn't take too much convincing to get us all out of the water).  Stefan had to work at his hostel, but Jordan and Max were planning on watching the fireworks so I told them to save me a seat and I would text them when I got off work and would try to meet them.  I sat talking with them for a bit longer, but then had to hurry back to shower and head to work.

They had changed my shift from working the corporate boxes at the Taipans game to working a buffet dinner at the RSL (Returned and Service's League - sort of like the American Legion).  It was super easy, all we had to do was clear tables - we didn't even have to serve drinks.  Louis was working last night as well, he works as a kitchen hand, so we would talk while I was stacking dirty dishes.  I could hear the 9pm fireworks show and it sounded pretty good, so I figured the midnight ones had to be just as good.  We were done by 9:30pm so I was able to get home, shower, grab some food and walk back to the esplanade.  Rith had said Tuesday night that he might be free (if the restaurant wasn't busy), so I stopped by on my way to meet Jordan and Max to see if he wanted to come along.  They didn't need his help and he'd actually gone to volleyball earlier in the night, so he came with me.  Thankfully I didn't have too much trouble finding them in the crowd and we had great seats.
The fireworks were really good as well - I think that was the first time in my life I've ever watched fireworks on New Year's Eve.  I was tired by the time it was all over, so I headed home to go to bed.  I'm just glad I didn't have to watch the fireworks by myself.  I still can't quite wrap my head around another year come and gone; especially when the months after I return home are still pretty much empty - I have no idea what I'll be doing.  But it's been a good year, never could have imagined all that has happened during my time in Australia, but I'm glad I came.  Best wishes to you all for a fantastic year ahead!