Forest Ants at Home

I've only got this long left in Australia:

Mutants on the Beach

A sunny beach day, and nothing better to do but read a whole book sitting out there underneath the palms. The perfect setting to be absorbed.

Mutant Message Down Under, by Marlo Morgan, isn’t about mutants. It’s about The Real People: atribe of ancient aborigines stalwartly unchanged by “civilized” society. To them, we are the mutants. We’ve lost touch with the natural and perfect organization of things. For them, everything easily falls into balance, everything comes and goes as it should. They live in abundance, even though to us mutants it would seem they’re in one of the most arid and inhospitable climates on Earth. Magically yet quite expectedly, all is provided for them. They are given food, offered water when needed, they sing and have each other although keep nothing for themselves. The focus of their lives is entirely different. They don’t have birthdays… instead, when they realize they have reached a new stage or betterment of their life, they choose to inform the rest of the tribe. Only then is a celebration to be had.

And how can the author know all this? Because they chose to take on of us with them. Somehow the fifty year-old American woman became known to them through her work with aboriginal youth. Although the book is officially a work of fiction, she repeatedly states it is based on real events. She did actually go on a life-altering walkabout ith them through the Australian wilderness, although she is sworn to secrecy regarding their sacred sites and how to find them. It is suggested several times throughout the book that it is in fact “her destiny” to meet these people and experience their ways. I guess I believe it.

Near the end, in their last sacred sanctuary deep in the desert, it is revealed their ultimate purpose in bringing along such a stranger. They are leaving this world. It is their choice, since they realize they won’t long be able to live off their shrinking land or evade the government which decrees they should live under the rule of numbers like everyone else. We live with time on our arm; they understand it’s sole purpose is to give us the chance to change.

When you read a whole book like that in that beautiful setting it can really affect you. Mutant Message, so named because it is their message to all us mutants, was received, by me. It makes me want to live more wholly, more spiritually, more aware of myself and everything else. Maybe even be live off the land. Don’t quote me on that. But I think this head-place I’m in will lead to better things and better experiences.

By the way thanks for giving it to me, Dad. I’m glad I finally got around to reading it, this far into the trip.


Petr & Zdenka’s Wacky Van Adventure

After the dive shop signed my papers yesterday, a classic backpacker misadventure ensued. I hopped in a van going to Airlie Beach, cause, well, I had nothing better to do. Two travelling Czechs, Petr and Zdenka, were going in their 1979 Toyota Hi-Ace and had room. So I went. Another English traveller named Susan went along too. Apparently they’re going on the same sailing cruise that happens to be the next day. So we’re all piled in the van about noon ready to get on the road to Airlie.

Which is bad news when the van starts jerking like its engine is trying to break free. The choke seems to be… err, choking the engine. So we head back to town. Call every mechanic we can think. Take apart the carbeurator. Somehow manage to find a retired mechanic walking across the street. Clean some intake jets, pop the carbie back in, and we’re back on the road. Bam!

For about four minutes. Then, the same damned thing happens. We jerk our way to the last remaining Auto supply store, TJ there let’s us in 5 minutes past closing, and we but a new fuel filter after figuring out that fuel stored in a plastic container for 2 months in the outback tends to leach out the plastic and get a film. Pull the van behind the shop a little ways, siphon out all the fuel (about 40 liters) into a big empty garbage can, then filter it back through into the tank with some hand towels from the local RSL. Twice. Fantastic! Back on the road about 7:00. By this time Susan had ditched us for “the bus,” so it was just me and two Czechs.

Slept through a lot of the night surprisingly. We stopped in Bowen sometime around 2:00 am. Wait, the story’s not over. Slept until maybe 3:30, then proceeded to get more petrol. Or, rather, try to get more petrol. Everything is closed in Bowen until about 6:00. And even then, our gas station waited around till maybe 7:30. When we woke up about 7:00, Petr quite promptly knocked the side door off its track. Putting it back on took, oh, a good half hour while we waited for the place to open. Airlie Beach was a ridiculously short trip after that.

Two of the only times in my life where I was happy to be in an auto parts store and a gas station. Ok, that’s the end of the story. Comments?


Diving Dream Done

I got off the boat yesterday around 5:00, and my head is still bobbing with the ocean waves. My ears have yet to fully equalize. I fell asleep around 6:30 dead tired. But damn, was it was worth it.

The best part about the trip was the people on the boat. Dont get me wrong; the wreck of the Yongala was fantastic. Without the people I met, though, it wouldn’t have been worth going. My dive buddy, a Lauren-esque shrimpboat-workinhg backpacker from Holland, was very a lucky pick. I’d even like to travel with her or some of the others a little more. We’ll see. Later today I might be going to Magnetic Island, just off the coast of Townsville. What the heck… it’s there. Or I might head off to Aerlie Beach with a bunch of other backpackers.

I would talk more about the Yongala, the other two reefs I had the chance to see, how I finished my diver training then lost the pretty certificate, but you know what… I’ve got about 2 minutes of credit left.Promise, I’ll write back soon.


Townsville It Is

Arrived here about 3:20 this afternoon. Checked into a nice hostel, the Globetrotter’s (reminds me of Globtrekker’s, and therefore Lonely Planet, which has become my sole reliable travel guide these last few weeks). Have slightly more money than anticipated, perhaps even enough if I manage to get some temop job for a week. I’ll do that tomorrow when I’m looking for dive shops. Damage looks to be about $450-$580, which isn’t too dear if I manage to get another top up somewhere.

BTW, Mom / Dad, the reason I’ve not called you yet is because I discovered (after making a morning’s worth of calls around Australia) that I have $0.36 left on my calling card. They don’t take my EFTPOS card. And I don’t think there’s a recharge store in this particular town. So, you know… if you want to, in the next 2-3 days or so, do call me. Only if you want to.

In the meantime, I’m doing my research. I’m reading the Lonely Planet constantly–including the two flights I’ve taken in the past week. I do believe the most strenuous part of travelling is the actual travelling. But for now I’m gonna have to leave it at that. This computer, while still frustrating, is at least up to 2001 spec I’d say.


Brisbane is Kinda Hectic

Yes. You heard it here first. I’m all over this place but that’s because there are no directional signs in Brisbane. So, I’m literally all over the place. I had to cut through parkland last night just to find my way back to the hostel. And don’t even get me started on where I slept. You don’t wanna know. Allow me to read to you a selection of things on my to-do list that I’ve done so far:

  1. buy storage space near hostel
  2. pickup luggage at train station
  3. try to get train to Rockhampton @ 12:55, to get to Great Keppel Island
  4. make to State Library for email (You’ll note this is crossed off as, tragically, the Queensland State Library is stuck in 1998. They still use CD-rom based databases, for crissake.)
  5. call Qantas and officially reshedule for June 7th
  6. make appointment for dive medical check at 3:30
  7. call Hostels in Rockhamptom, Great Keppel, for rates and reservations
  8. call dive shops on Great Keppel Island
  9. totally reconsider and back out of trip to Great Keppel Island
  10. book flight to Townsville instead, tomorrow
  11. realize you have nowhere near as much money as you need

My time is so out even though I’ve got more to write. That’s right, more. Mom, if you’re reading this… you can probably expect a phone call of the sort where I ask for something I need really, really nicely.