I've spent 9 of the last 16 days at the beach. Heaven, you say? Why yes, it was. I actually shed a tear about having to return to work. While at the beach, Australia wasn't far from my mind. I've re-read the Bryson book again (4th time). It seems to get better and I learn new things each time I read it. I find the history of the country so fascinating. Lots of the events that changed the face of Australia (like that fact that it ended up British instead of French) is based on chance and luck and shear timing. And the rich and ancient history of the Aborigines is amazing. I will try to learn as much as I can while I'm down there. I'm sure people around me must be sick of me talking about the book and the trip, but it does consume a large majority of my free thoughts. And if you ask me, THEY'RE JUST JEALOUS!
Reading the Bryson book for the 4th time reminded me once again (as if every television program about the country and person discussing Australia wasn't enough to remind me) that more so than any country in the world, Australia has plenty of natural ways to injure and kill you. Throughout the entire book, Bryson is very vocal about his fears of falling prey to some snake or arachnid or sea creature upon his arrival to every new portion of the country. I think he would get quite a chuckle out of this "accurate" map of Australia I found while mindlessly surfing Google images of "Australia":
Pretty impressive, huh? I know that some of these things are real threats (Steve Irwin? Old map I guess. So no, he's not a threat- not unless it's zombie Steve Irwin... too soon?), but I'm honestly not too concerned. I don't plan on spending a whole lot of unsupervised time out in the wild among the crazy, magnificently evolved wonders of the island because I understand they are real, can kill, and so my instinct for self preservation tells me I'll be ok and even if I did have some sort of death wish or got a sudden urge for adventure, that fact would not venture far from my mind.
And, oh yeah, GOOD NEWS!!!! I will officially have a travel companion for the last leg of my trip! Matt is going to be spending some time with me in Alice Springs and Cairns/Port Douglas the last two weeks of November. Now when I say officially, I mean he's called me and told me the dates and talked to me several times about it and are already planning stuff to do, but he hasn't bought his ticket yet. But he's not going to back out... not if he knows what's good for him. Plus, why would he want to? We've already planned to hot air balloon over the outback at sunrise in Alice Springs, spend the day out on the Great Barrier Reef snorkeling on the coast of Cairns, and we will be making our own Thanksgiving dinner (since it's a specifically American holiday and probably won't be observed by many in Australia.) It's going to be lots of great fun packed into about 10 days (it takes a day to get here and a day to get back, and you lose another day on the way here because of that pesky international dateline.) I'm so excited to have a travel buddy, even if it's just for a couple of weeks.
Even with these things to be excited about, I do find myself stressing a little. The realization that I will be on the other side of the world for 3 months by myself is a little overwhelming. Every decision will be mine to make. Every day will be my own. It's kind of sad to me that I find these things scary. Every time I feel frightened by these ideas, I take a step back and realize that it's freedom, true freedom, that somehow I find suffocating. I can do anything I want, I have to answer to no one. If I don't feel like doing anything one day, I don't have to (even though I think I will feel lazy to waste one day in another country. I like to think I will at least go sit in a park or at the beach and watch people). If I feel like eating lunch at 10am, or 3pm, or never, I can. My rules, all the time. So when I feel myself starting to flip about this trip, I breathe in deeply and and take a moment to realize what a gift this is. It shouldn't be overwhelming to not have structures or deadlines or people to be answering to. The fact that it is my natural reaction to freak when these things are removed from my life shows how long I have lived and been supported by these things; they were a crutch. For these three months, I will be free to do whatever I want, whenever I want. And I need to make sure I live every minute of it.