The End of Eden
Parting is such sweet sorrow. Even if it is from a bitch.
Tony decided to put the ever-temperamental Eve up for sale in Perth. We were due to travel across the demanding Nullarbor to Adelaide. The Nullarbor is a 1,000-mile long semi-desert road with very little civilization. Tony figured that we would need a complete service before going on the road – brakes and tires and something would bound to go wrong along the journey with Eve (experience is the Mother of all tutors). Since she emptied most of his wallet to begin with and still was demanding more, he decided just to say “The End, My Friend”.
We put adverts up all over the backpacker places in Perth and Fremantle. We got an ok response. My favorite response was from some Eastern European who left a message on Tony’s voice mail. It went like this (For this exercise, use a Boris and Natasha accent mixed with a thick Marlene Dietrich): “Hi…my name ist [unintelligible] und Stefan. Ve vould like car you haf for say [that, we gathered, meant 'sale']. Ve are very interestink. You brink to International Backpackers at 8pm tonight, ja? Zank you”. We pissed ourselves over that one.
Tony ended up selling the car to three English backpackers who were overjoyed with her. I hope she treats them better than us. But we did go out on a ‘jolly good piss up’, as Tony likes to say, after the divorce from Eve. That piss-up night, I discovered the truly amazing beverage ever to be invented, Caffrey’s Irish Cream Ale. Jeez, can you say Elixir of the Gods?
The day after she left, we both felt out of sorts (think it could have been the Caffreys?). Sort of like our pet dog just passed or lack of hair of the dog, whichever your opinion might be. But luckily, when one door closes, another one opens (preferably to the nearest pub serving Caffrey’s). We found a caravan company that wanted a decked out van transported from Perth to Adelaide. All we had to pay was US $3 a day and pay for diesel. It was a Godsend.
Bye Eve, I miss you but not enough to want to know thee again.
Farmers? We don’t need no stinkin’ Farmers!
While waiting for the car to be sold, we ended up spending quite a while in Perth. I love the city and could see myself living there in the future. A truly livable city (but stop the sprawl!!).
In Perth, I realized that my 3-month tourist visa was about to expire. Jeez, three months have passed already?? I did originally want to do all of Australia in three months. I am already into my fourth month here and still have to see all of the East Coast and Tasmania (plus I want to visit New Zealand). I am thinking I’ll be home sometime in 2004. But wait, I don’t have a home. So I guess I am home.
Well anyway, I had to get an extension on my visa in Perth. I was reading in a book about migration and visas that stated [and I quote]: “If you have an occupation that is in demand in Australia, you might be eligible for an expedited special work permit. Farmers are not an occupation in demand. We have too many farmers already in Australia”. I pissed myself with that one.
I love the Aussies. They are so straightforward. I have become a big fan of John Howard, the current Prime Minister, who is equally as straightforward. I try to be apolitical and I know nothing of his policies so I am not making a political party judgment here. I just love him because he says it like it is (although delivered in a boring, monotone voice). He doesn’t talk like a politicians I know and dislike in the US. Rock on, Johnny!
Pardon for the wayward, political tangent. But I did get a 6-month extension on my visa. I could stay here until April 2002. But if I do, I think my mom will have a coronary. She emails me every other day saying that I have a mountain of mail waiting for me and asks me when I am coming back to take care of business. She thinks a few are really important.
My mom said I got something from the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and said she could see through the envelope that it says “Suspension Order!”. Hmmm, don’t know what that can be about; I am usually an upstanding citizen. I guess Otto, my VW Jetta, is an illegal alien or something. I told her not to open it because I would rather not know because there is not much I can do about it right now anyhow. Ahhh, ignorance is bliss.
I do wish I would have sold Otto before leaving; I sold everything else I own. So I have no other possessions drawing me back to the US, except my Teutonic friend. Anybody interested in buying him? He might be illegal, but I bet he can outrun anybody from Immigration.
Bill the Koala
To All The Animals I’ve Loved Before
I wanted to devote sometime in my travelogues before about all the Aussie animals but they have gotten pre-empted by my hangovers or by a murder in the Outback or by my moods. Not this time! I love Aussie animals – preferably with a nice steak sauce and few oven-roasted potatoes. Just kidding!
The best all-time Aussie animal (and for that matter, in the whole freakin’ world) is definitely, no bones about it, as right as rain, as God as my witness, the quokka. Quokkas are mainly found on Rottnest Island off of Perth’s coast. I named all the quokkas ‘Bill’. They are something out of a Muppet Movie: extremely cute marsupials mixed with the friendliness of Chip ‘n’ Dale plus a little miniature, happy Skippy the Kangaroo added for flavor.
Bill the Quokka with Tony
They are extremely friendly. We had them crawling all over us and sniffing our bags (we had sandwiches in there). One licked my finger and it was a smooth as silk. I thought it would be scratchy like a cat’s tongue. Although, I love my ex-cat, who coincidentally enough, is named Bill (who I sadly had to give up for adoption in NYC before leaving), Bill the Cat couldn’t hold a candle to the cuteness of Bill the Quokkas.
After visiting the quokkas on Rottnest, I was feeling inspired to see more animals so I took a trip to the Perth Zoo while Tony visited the ever entertaining cricket museum. Perth Zoo is the first zoo I visited in a long time. After successfully evading all the kids there on school trips, I saw some of the animals (or, as The Lonely Planet refers to them, the ‘inmates’).
Bill the shy Orangutan
I wanted to set them all free. But they do get square meals a day and have no predators (except the annoying, snotty-nosed school child) and they get free medical and dental. I liked it but would much rather see an animal in the wild than in a cage.
I love animals. I love Aussie animals. I love natural habitats. I love the NT and WA – their vast wilderness is something that must be experienced. Let’s just hope their beauty won’t lead to over popularity and thus to my friends, Bill, homelessness. Rock On, Bills! I miss you.
Teutonic Mode of Transportation, Vicki
We left Perth in the van that needed to be transferred to Adelaide. We didn’t know what we would do once we got to Adelaide and were once again car-less: but that is in the future. We decided to name the van Vicki, since she hailed from the state of Victoria. We did feel very Teutonic in the van given that the only people we have met in caravan parks driving Britz rental vans have been almost exclusively Germans. Call me Hans.
The Nullarbor is truly an amazing area. The name, they say, is a grammatically incorrect Latin derivation, which means ‘No Tree’. I guess the correct spelling would be Nullusarborus? Dunno. But there are only a few spots along the 1,000-mile long road that were truly treeless. Truly an amazing trip due to its vastness and its lack of any civilization. Let’s hope it stays that way.
A sign in the Nullarbor stating ’90 Mile Straight: Australia’s Longest Straight Road’
The Scorecard and The End
This is a quick update of my goals I set for in the last travelogue:
- I want to live in hope.
- Not too good. Reading the events in the world as they unfold and hypothesizing on eventual outcomes have left me shaken.
- I want to skydive in New Zealand.
- Will update when the deed is done. HELP ME. PLEASE.
- I want to stray from my comfort zone from time to time.
- I did that by having Eve leave me. Didn’t like it but I trusted that some other door would open.
- I want to never, ever make a list of future goals again. Ever. I want to keep my future open.
- Hmmm. Not too good on that one I am afraid.
- I want to learn to love the journey.
- I am trying – not always successful – but my intentions are good. I did love the Nullarbor journey and will not forget all the Bill’s I have met along the way.
- I want to see God in everyone.
- I am really trying but each day I am bombarded with mixed emotions.
So here I am. Four months into my journey and wondering where to go from here. I think I am getting a bit of what others call “traveler’s overload” (‘TO’, for short). TO is when you have been traveling for a while that you begin to just block everything else out. I am loving Oz and don’t feel a need to return to the US right now but find myself longing for some permanence. Some ending. I would love to put my clothes in a drawer for more than a week without having to pack them up or fish them out every day. Would also love to come home to a roofed house with a foundation and a nice solid door rather than having to put it up on some nice piece of green grass and zip myself in at night.
What I really need to do is not let my need for permanence give my journey a premature ending. It ain’t over until the last word is written. And I think and hope I have more to say. Forget the End of Eden and just go with the flow of the river. A river is never its beginning or ending but rather its zigzagging course through the countryside.