Monthly Archives: June 2007

Weird, but cute

He’s kind of cute isn’t he? This little marsupial is a spotted-tailed quoll and he lives in Tasmania, Australia’s smallest state. They are the world’s largest marsupial carnivore (they kill their prey by biting near or right behind the head), but I think the most interesting thing about them is that they’ve been known to do it for 8 hours (shall we name this little guy Sting?). They also poop together in a pile. Weird!

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Photo by Mitch Reardon/Lonely Planet Images

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ruminations on loneliness

I do not like being alone.

Whenever I tell new acquaintances I’m going to Australia to travel, the first words out of their mouths are usually, “I’m jealous!” The second? “Wow! Who are you going with?” When I answer, “Myself?” their excited expressions change, morphing into an odd mix of sympathy and shock.

Loneliness is a funny thing — especially in New York. You’re constantly surrounded by people, so doing something alone seems even more out of the ordinary. I imagine people looking at me thinking, ‘In a city of almost 9 million people, you couldn’t find one person to go to the movies with?’ Most of the people lounging alone on street corners are either homeless or getting paid to hawk a flyer. All those people sipping coffee at cafes on street corners? They have a computer hooked up to AIM or a blackberry to keep them constantly connected. In a city whose residents usually walk at a 15-mile-an-hour pace, it’s hard to go it alone without an agenda.

This, I hope, is not the case in Australia.

I suspect I’ll be OK – after all, the tour I’m going with is almost constantly sold out (they recommend booking your seat well in advance). Still, I can’t help but wonder if a little alone time wouldn’t be such a bad thing. That might turn out to be the biggest adventure of all.

saying goodbye…to my shoes

Ok, two posts in a row about shoes, I know.

One of the most difficult things about this trip will be packing for it. You’re only allowed to take 33 lbs with you on The Oz Experience (the tour I’m doing). I think my shoes alone weigh 33 lbs.  So…

Missa918 (4:31:29 PM): dude HEELS
Missa918 (4:31:33 PM): you need a pair of heels
dazey311 (4:31:39 PM): i don’t know!
dazey311 (4:31:43 PM): won’t they take up too much space
Missa918 (4:31:47 PM): one pair!
dazey311 (4:31:50 PM): do people wear heels in oz
Missa918 (4:31:53 PM): haha i dont know, i couldnt pack for this trip
dazey311 (4:31:57 PM): i guess one. i can’t either
Missa918 (4:31:59 PM): im sure they wear them out!
dazey311 (4:32:07 PM): actually, it will prob take me long to pack bc i won’t know what to do
Missa918 (4:32:31 PM): yea thats daunting
dazey311 (4:34:09 PM): that’s gonna be the hardest thing
dazey311 (4:34:11 PM): isn’t that so sad
dazey311 (4:34:17 PM): leaving my friends, city, family
dazey311 (4:34:23 PM): leaving my shoes will prob be the hardest
dazey311 (4:34:35 PM): ill probably cry
dazey311 (4:34:51 PM): like, i can talk to everyone from there
dazey311 (4:34:54 PM): but i can’t wear my shoes

33 lbs!

I’ve got my walkin’ shoes

If you’re going to a country that’s terrain is mostly desert, dirt and forest, you’ve got to have a good pair of walkin’ shoes. I imagine Bill Bryson had a pair of beat up, old hiking boots. I, however, have opted for these.converse.jpg

After three attempts by UPS, they are finally sitting happily in my closet. We’ll use this as the “before” shot — I’m excited to put up the “after.”

(Thanks to my little brother for the birthday gift certificate to Zappos.)

It’s what you can’t see that will kill you

After I announced to my parents I was leaving the fair isle of Manhattan for a far vaster, less crowded one, the first thing they told me to do was read Bill Bryson’s travel satire, In A Sunburned Country. Well, ok, the first thing they told me to do was check if I had a fever, but after many assurances I wasn’t delirious with fever, they gave up and told me to read the book.

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Why? Maybe Bill would change my mind.

The description reads:

Australia is a country that exists on a vast scale. It is the only island that is also a continent and the only continent that is also a country. Despite being the most desiccated, infertile, and climatically aggressive of all inhabited continents, it teems with life. In fact, Australia has more things that can kill you in extremely nasty ways than anywhere else: sharks, crocodiles, the ten most deadly poisonous snakes on the planet, fluffy yet toxic caterpillars, seashells that actually attack you, and the unbelievable box jellyfish (don’t ask). The dangerous riptides of the sea and the sun-baked wastes of the outback both lie in wait for the unwary. It’s one tough country.

Basically, Bryson goes on to write about his brush with a killer jelly-fish, his friends’ brush with a killer crocodile, and just about everyone else’s various brushes with killer bugs, snakes or whatever else may be lurking behind that bush. Did you know you can’t even go in the water near Cairns from September to April because of the jellyfish? And did you know most victims of crocodile attacks don’t even see the croc before they’re dinner? Yeah. I could see why they wanted me to read it.

But the best part about Bryson, and Australia and its people, I noticed, is that despite all the hardships — the unrelenting desert, the untamed wild — was that he still loved it there. Every time he stepped foot on its land, he knew he was about to have an adventure. And he did.

I hope I follow in his footsteps and have a few of my own. I also hope, like him, I do not get eaten by a crocodile.

Less than three

A while back, I decided I wanted to go to Australia. It was shortly after I left London after studying there for almost four months, and I couldn’t wait to keep exploring the world. Hell, I couldn’t wait to explore the whole of East London. Alas, I had to finish school, I didn’t have any money and according to my parents (and everyone else) I needed to go do that whole ‘get a job, make a living, start a career thing.’ Right.

Well, done and done. And done. A few years passed, five to be precise, but I hadn’t forgotten about Australia. In fact, my time back home only led me back there, to a continent so distant I could barely point out its major cities on a map. At this point, it was more a matter of curiosity. If I can cut it here, can I cut it there? Can I cut it anywhere? (Note: When I say “cut it” I do not mean “cut it” in the sense of a lot of other ambitious NYC young professionals out there. I mean I can pay my rent, buy toothpaste and enjoy a few $2 PBRs every now and then. Really, does one need more?)

Couple that with the fact that I was 25, single and at a job I’d grown out of, the choice seemed clear. So, on a cold, February afternoon, I took the leap. I gave the nice man my credit card, told him to book me a round-trip flight with as much time abroad as possible (he told me 5 months) and signed my name. Then I drank a very, very large margarita.

Since that day, I’ve purchased myself a 6 month visa, paid off my flight and quit my full-time job to go freelance. And so, the countdown begins.

September 10, 2007.

(Oh yeah, that’s probably when this blog will get a bit more interesting.)