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June 30, 2007

Watch That First Step, It's a Doozy...

My weekend plans had involved the Indian Ocean and swimming with dolphins, so obviously I found myself in the back of a 4 x 4 minibus full of Japanese students just about to slip over the edge of an extremely steep, extremely white sand dune while an Aussie driver reminded us to "Buckle up - this one's a doozy!"

I'm amazed at how often I suddenly look up and wonder what I was thinking to get myself into these situations.

trust me i'm a professionalI've already written about seeing the Pinnacles - a vast expanse of shifting sand with large rock formations scattered throughout. The sand there was shades of orange, unmoving, making it hard to believe that the large rocks were because the sand had all been blown away hundreds or thousands of years ago. But this area was different. The sand was pure white, the sky a brilliant blue, and the ocean was peaking out from behind the dunes. The wind was so hot and blew the fine sand into everything, including my camera. (The photos here are the last ones I was able to take with it before it broke. Even now, I can't get the other photos off it.) Including my hair.

Oh, my poor hair.

But first, the 4 x 4ing. It's the only time during the trip the driver insisted we had to buckle up, and waivers had to be signed. Then, he drove the bus into this vast expanse of white, and up, up, up the dunes before pausing at the very top of one of them.

"Ooo... we're beginning to slide!" he cried out as teenaged girls squealed and even the boys gripped hard onto their seat belts. I just felt my eyes getting wider and reminded myself that if it wasn't safe they probably wouldn't be doing it.

And then... boom! Down we went, at top speed! Slipping down the hill, watching everything tilt to 45 degrees out the window, and thinking "but if it wasn't dangerous, would they insist upon a waiver?"

I scream loud.

through the windowUp and down the hills, bumping and jumping while the driver laughed and the rest of screamed or whimpered or giggled, and I felt queasy, worried I would throw up from the bumps and leaps into the air the bus was somehow managing to make, until finally we came to a halt at the top of the same tall dune and everyone piled out.

Two things: Sand is very hot in the sun. Sand also turns very very cold when it's in shadows for short periods of time. I'm sure there's a physics lesson in there someplace.

Sandboarding, depending on how you do it, is either like tobogganing or like snowboarding - you either go down sitting on the board or standing on it. Either way, you need to wax the board in order for it to go far, it needs a certain amount of weight or it won't go very fast (and thus won't go very far), and if you scream loud enough, you'll go the farthest.

Near the bottomThe last one might not be as true as the first two, but I certainly found I went very very far as I screamed the whole way down the hill. I know, I like to sound so brave on my trips, but you don't understand - I was going down a hill! In the sand! In the heat! I could have been killed by... um... roving bands of... sand demons... or something....

Don't judge me!

I wasn't the first one down, but I was the first girl who went down, and I totally went the farthest of anyone who did. Which just meant I had the farthest to climb back up the damned hill afterwards.

Two things: Sand is very hot in the sun. And sand is also very hard to climb up.

my poor hairAll in all it was a great time, even if I did ruin my camera and have sand caked so hard onto my skin that it took me almost thirty minutes of scrubbing in the shower to get most of it out - and I still had sand in my hair two days and three showers later. It was a great adventure, one I would happily do again should the opportunity present itself.

But really, if you get the chance - screaming makes you go further. Totally the truth.

{all the photos}

June 27, 2007

MidWinter in Australia, a photo essay, by jo


Sail Away


{to save on dialup, the rest are behind the cut, or view the entire set.}

Continue reading "MidWinter in Australia, a photo essay, by jo" »

June 17, 2007

Not All Those Who Wander....

I am drowning in nervousness about travelling.

I enjoy travelling, enjoy the rush of seeing someplace new, or going someplace old and seeing it again. I'm excited about going back to London, even if all I'm going to do is see a musical and buy my favourite chai in bulk, and spend a delightful afternoon in Sarah's company. I'm counting down the hours till I get to Halifax and finally see it when the city isn't encased in ice, planning walks along the harbour and trips out to lighthouses. I'm even planning, planning, planning every meal I'll have in Edmonton, every favourite street I'll walk down. Through it all, Poland whispers and Spain hisses promises and I'm numbering all the things I want to do and trying to make it all realistic with what I can do. Every day is about where I'll be and what I'll do and when it all will happen, and it's beautiful.

I'm afraid of things, though - of flying, as always; of seeing people and things being awkward and nervous; of luggage going missing and pockets being picked. I have recurrent nightmares that I miss flights, miss connections, miss people, and everything goes all wrong in those moments that we let them.

People assume that my wanting to travel means I want to run away from something, that I'm hiding in new cities with new histories. Don tells me I'm searching for something, and when I find it I'll settle down, grow a garden, get a cat.

I'll tell you that I travel because not travelling feels like giving in to fear.

Every day I'm afraid that if I move away from my comfort zone, if I assume that I deserve something other than being bored, I will spend my life alone and miserable. My father tells me so often not to settle for unhappiness - to leave men who make me sad all the time, to leave jobs that make me bored or angry, to leave friendships that break my heart. He tells me to stop selling myself so short, to look for things that challenge or excite me, things that just make me happy. I spent most of my 20s ignoring that advice, and spent most of my 20s being unhappy because of it. I stayed in once place even though I longed to leave, stuck it out at jobs that made me dread waking up Monday mornings, and stayed in relationships that left me grieving before they were finished. I was afraid, you see, that there would be nothing better, that the next step would be worse. The next job would be even more terrible, and pay less; the next city would leave me friendless and alone.

I travel because I can't live like that anymore.

In less than a week I'll fly out to London for a couple of days, to Halifax for a week, to Edmonton for a few days after that, and then off to Poland to see a church made of bones. I'll soak up the heat in Spain, drinking sangria and teasing Don about Australia. And after that, I'll come back here, to Perth, to my tiny flat and my sweet and wonderful friends, and make my plans for my last six months in Australia.

I've planned it all out. I'm going to have a marvellous time.

Not all those who wander are lost.

About June 2007

This page contains all entries posted to Anna Overseas in June 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

May 2007 is the previous archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.