24 Oktober 2007

Plans – made to be changed

Dubbo, 24th of October in 2007. Sitting in a luxury motel room, one double, one single bed. Markus sits on the single bed, typing on his notebook, Isabel lies next to me, writing in her diary. I’m really happy right now.

A lot has happened over the last almost two weeks. I’ll try to report in some sort of a chronical order:
Martina was fired and she and Denise left the White Cliffs Undergroundmotel on October, 13th. Two days later, Martina got accused to have stolen heaps of stuff from the motel, like cash and other valuables. Complete nonsense. What she really had taken, was an empty ice-cream box, an empty styrofoam box and a pillow, which had been left in the motel. The problem was: Some guy rang up and wanted to have his pillow back, which he had forgotten two weeks ago or something like that. Huge insurgence, Richard called the police and forbid us to acces the internet for two days, so that we couldn’t get in contact with the girls. Ridiculous!
We called him, and sorted it all out, he told us it was all for our personal protection, so that the police wouldn’t start tracking down our names or anything like that. Even more ridiculous! The pillow seems to be worth 60$, and Richard gave the police the vehicle rego number of the girls, asked us heaps of questions... we couldn’t believe it! Because of a simple pillow! We were convinced that his wife Jenny must have had to do something with that...

Chris and Steve came back from their holidays and took over the management. Richard is in Orange, where Jenny usually lives, still with his broken leg. They’re a lot easier to get along with, honest and upright. The only problem was: They’re just the managers, and have to follow the orders from Jenny and Richard. And Jenny seemed to give many orders lately. Lunch was gone. Isabel and I were allowed to have lunch, when we worked 5 hours or more during our morning shift. And Chris and Steve always made us knock off after 4 or sometimes 4,5 hours. I once made it to 5,5 hours, but just because Steve gave me some extra hours with building the chook house. Nice chap. But we’re quite happy with having or own lunch, cheese toasts, roo-steak or any left-overs from the evening before.
But even they got very rare, because we usually had the evenings off. So, Markus, Chris and Steve handled the dinners, and Isabel and I sat around, watched some movies, told endless stories or stared into the stars... I didn’t mind having some time off with her... :-)

One lazy afternoon, we thought about further travelling plans. The laptop was running, and we found a world map. All of the sudden, I had the idea to go to Asia, and she agreed immediately! Awesome! No 4WD, no Broome, South-East Asia. By the end of November, we should be out of the motel, we thought, and could fly over to Kuala Lumpur, travel around for 2 months and then see what happens. She’ll probably fly back to Australia and explore the West Coast then, and I might be heading home... But I already planned to head home for the middle of August and the end of November, and it changed twice, so I won’t promise anything, ey? ;-)

I got used to being 20. Not as bad as I thought it would be. Still young enough for travels and adventures. Which sort of adventures? Well... read on!

I decided not to get my 2nd visa. My appointment would be today, over in Broken Hill. Approximately 1000km west of here. Well... we’ll see, if the government will be pleased to hear that!
Why? Isabel and I got fired at the motel as well. Sunday morning, Steve asked us to come into the laundry, at 8am, and he and Chris told us to be packed by 9.30. *shock* Explanation: There was not enough work, and they could not have told us earlier on, no way. Few days ago Richard had still promised us a couple of weeks work, and now, all of a sudden, it was over!
We woke Markus up, who decided to leave as well, had brekkie, packed our stuff and were brought to Wilcannia. Not for free, no, we had to pay 50$ for a ride, which might have cost 20 bucks for fuel and which would have had to be made anyway, because Steve and a mate of his went to town as well. /\$$#0L€$! Really, really sad that such a wicked time had to end like this!

So – there we were, in Wilcannia. If you trust the word of mouth, it is New South Wales’ most criminal town! No bus leaving in the arvo, not heading to Sydney. As poor backpackers, we wouldn’t want to afford the motel, so we decided to stay outside.

Bought some bread at the supermarket, booked a bus ticket for the next morning 6am and chilled out in some sort of park. Pretty relaxed, until the sun went down and it got dark...
We lit some candles, grabbed our torches and unpacked heaps of food: Melons, bananas, apples, bread, butter, jam, salt, pepper, corn, soy sauce... everything we had. And everything that had to go – we didn’t want to carry it.
Markus placed approximately 40 bottles of our beloved self-brewed beer next to our table – until the first bottle exploded and cut my ankle! Blood ran down on my thong, and we placed the bag with the bottles in the nearby rubbish bin.

Great idea: All in all 5 of those bottles exploded, piece by piece, always with the bang of a gun. Amazing. We decided to leave the rest of the beer in the park, for any lucky Aborigine to find them next day.

But the bottles weren’t our biggest problem: We were a little bit afraid because of all our valuables: Markus and Isabel with their opals, Markus and I with our laptops and Isabel and I with our cameras... we knew very well, that heaps of black fellas were quite aware of our presence, and could only hope, that they wouldn’t know about our treasures.
Seems as if they didn’t, but we always watched out for guys straying around. 10pm there were a few youngsters, maybe our age, who seemed to watch us, and later on, at approximately 1am, we got paranoid about 3 little gangsters at the age of 10 or something – what were they doing at that time down at the river? After a while, every shadow seemed to move, every noise could have been steps and our two knives, unpacked to cut the melons, laid ready-to-use on the table – even though the melons were already eaten. Oh dear, it wasn’t all fun staying outside that night.

At least it was nice and warm, we had a beautiful, starlit sky, and after 3am we all calmed down, as Isabel and I explored Wilcannia by night. We still all felt relieved when the sun finally rose, packed our stuff and walked to the bus station, brushed our teeth over a rubbish bin, so tired, that I hit my head painfully at the bus timetable, climbed into the bus and fell to sleep immediately...

After a 7 hours ride, just intermitted by a short brekkie break, we found ourselves in Dubbo. 30 000 inhabitants made the impression of a huge city to us, some supermarket and a couple of places to stay felt like civilisation.
We found an awesome motel, 250$ for three persons per week is a good rate, especially if you look at the luxury we’re enjoying at the moment!

Next thing was to find a job: We called the Harvest Labour Line, but unfortunately they couldn’t help us. So we started door-knocking, walked from café to café, from motel to motel and from restaurant to restaurant, smiled, asked for a job, wrote down our mobile numbers and left again. Some sort of frustrating, but still funny with Markus and Isabel. In the end, we were unsuccesful. Sad, but true.
One guy from a job agency called us to send us down to another city for some tree planting, but we weren’t happy with that – we all wanted to stay in this luxury motel! So we refused. Today he offered us a job as orange pickers – we agreed. So, tomorrow we’ll all start to pick oranges. My first fruit picking job ever! I’ll tell you what it is like. Definitely.

Problems with mice are all over, and we finished the tanning of our roo-skin just in time to take it with us. Markus and I will share it, after we’ve done all the hard work, and I’ll probably send my half home to Germany – what a trophy! :-) Markus wants to use his as a loin cloth... *lol* Well – in my opinion he looks better like that.

Isabel and I enquired at a couple of travel agents about the cheapest flights to Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur or Saigon. We’ll have to buy some travel guide to precise our plans, and I have to wait, how many days the government will give me to leave the country. In the meantime, we’ll keep looking for work, we’ll keep having fun and we’ll keep changing plans. *g*

11 Oktober 2007

Life is beautiful!

Isabel arrived the same afternoon. One glance, one kiss – and she was my first girlfriend in Australia! Well – she still is. Chris is no Single anymore. Unbelievable, ey? After one whole year of travelling around, I finally found a girl, which seems to suit me not too bad.
At least we’re living in the same room, sleeping in the same bed and doing the same sort of work. Maybe we’ll hire a 4WD some time and drive straight cross the Outback over to Broome. Would be a great adventure. And Isabel is the sort of girl who could handle that... but well, we’ll see.

In the first place, we have to keep working. Earn some money. Last week was very busy, all the school kids from NSW and Vic came along with their parents to fossick for opals or just on their way through to somewhere. Had 52 hours in the end, busiest week ever – and damn good money. Only drop of bitterness: Richard, our beloved boss, went on a motorbike ride with his son, Dan, and never came back. Not yet. He fell over, broke his leg, and is currently in the hospital down in Adelaide. Poor man. His wife, Jenny, took over the management, and she’s unbelievably stingy. Results are: Less working hours, less food, less fun, less motivation. None of us can really stand her. I had two big fights with her, she blamed me for corrupting the pool, stealing food and that sort of stuff, which I absolutely couldn’t understand. Well, somehow we managed to sort that out, and we agreed on living together in some kind of peace. I do my work, and she lets me do it, without talking into it. I can live with that solution.

Isabel gets some hours as well. On the first day, we walked around in White Cliffs, looking for a job in the hotel, the pub and the shop (hey, big choice out here!), but had to experience we were two days too late. Well, we talked to Richard, and he found some little jobs that needed doing, and Isabel also got into making beds and stuff. All good.

My birthday was brilliant! Thanks everyone for the lovely wishes, mails, ecards... Got a cake, a “no worries”- Shirt and some chocolate from Isabel, bought some Baileys and we had a great day. In the evening, we went out for some shooting and came back with a roo. Markus wants to use all the meat, make some steak and goulash, and we’ll try to tan the skin. Amazing, how much you can learn out here!!!

20 sounds a bit old. In earlier years, I always thought, as soon as I’m 20 I’ll go to Uni. Well, this “plan” has changed. Uni will have to wait. :-)
So, now I’m a twen, and it doesn’t feel that bad. It just sounds old.

Isabel had birthday as well, just 9 days later. I returned the favor with brekkie in bed, 120 candles, a volleyball and baked a handmade cake! (Thanks for your hand, Markus!)
Isabels parents advised me to buy an opal for her daughter, and she couldn’t believe her eyes, when she first thought, it was from me. *lol* Beautiful piece, that she got!

My visa application was unsuccesful – in the first instance. Was some sort of misunderstanding, cause I didn’t receive that letter with the required contact details in time, so the government sent me an email, that my visa was refused. Oh dear, I was happy!
But well, two days later I got the letter, arranged an appointment with the doc in Broken Hill, informed the governent about these news and got the answer, that all is fine. Further processing depends on the results of my examination.

The tanning of the roo-skin is making good progress, should be finished in a few days time. Harder work than we thought!

I finally got my tax back! Awesome! Took only 10 days to receive the money! Terrific. Markus told me, he had to wait 9 months once back home in Germany. Ozzie bureaucracy rules!

We’re trying to keep our staff quarters neat and clean, so Markus and I repaired the warped bathroom door, while Isabel and I tried to catch some mice. But these bastards ate our bait and left the trap behind! Damn. Gotta think of another solution to get rid of these “$)%I?=”$...

Plans about the future are a long way down the road. Now, that Richard broke his leg, we’re waiting for Chris and Steve, the two managers, to come back, to take over the business, so that Jenny can head back home.
Nobody can tell me, how long they’ll need my hand, maybe until the end of October, maybe til the mid of November... who knows? And – who cares? I don’t. I just enjoy my time out here, earn some money, have some fun and gain some life-experience. Life is beautiful!