Tunisa. Currently tied with New Zealand and New Mexico as my BEST TRIP EVER. I had no idea the country was so incredibly beautiful. Every hour we drove we were stunned anew. Otherwordly locations tucked away in a tiny African country. The places are remote and armed with only sketchy directions, it was truly an adventure holiday.
The places we saw. AMAZING. I have sunset photos of the same place where Luke watched the binary sunset. I had chills.
We hiked up STAR WARS canyon.
We visited the still-standing set of Mos Espa.
We slept over at Luke's house (the Lars homestead).
Found the Cantina (sadly falling apart) and Obi-Wan's house (still fairly intact).
And saw the slave quarters where Anakin lived.
Aside from all of that - the Sahara! Desert Oases! Salt lakes and sand dunes and 40 degree heat and it was just ... incredible. There are no words to describe it.
I have 1000 photos and I hope to share these with you very soon.
Road Trip of a Lifetime
I'm one hour from leaving for Tunisia.
Home of Tattooine.
I don't think anyone can comprehend just HOW EXCITED I am. I've wanted to go here since the summer I was 12.
I'M GONNA SEE MOS ESPA AND MOS EISLEY AND STAY IN LUKE SKYWALKER'S HOUSE!!!
And stand above the crater where Luke longingly looked out at the twin suns setting and dreamed of his future.
I'm going to Tattooine. :) :) :) :) :)
Of all the places where STAR WARS was filmed, this is the place you can get 'closest' to it.
The forgotten people?
Sometimes we, the ex-pats, feel forgotten. We send countless emails, make phone calls, send birthday cards to the people that we thought were our best friends, but the contact is not returned.
Perhaps those we left behind think that we're far too busy having a fantastic adventure to even think of them. I want to tell you all it's not true. We miss home, intensely at times, especially when we look around and there's no one with whom we have a truly intimate friendship with. (Because friendship takes work, a minimum of 6 months. And if I'm having a crisis which links directly to an experience from 3 years ago, who here would understand that?)
We love getting even 2 line emails.
We love hearing news from home.
And we love telling you our news too.
I know we left YOU and it was selfish on our parts. We hope that you can forgive us for that and understand that even though we've gone out seeking our own lives, we didn't do this lightly.
My friends, I miss you.
My friend Donna, from New Zealand, is coming to visit this weekend. I haven't seen her in a year and a half. It's going to be so much fun!!!
I have been so lucky to have a near-constant stream of visitors to the UK. It's wonderful.
The blonde-hair effect
Today was a Good Hair Day. How do I know? I was walking down the road (to the doctor to get vaccinations for the upcoming Tunisia trip - ouch!) and a car screeches to a stop next to me.
2 guys asked for directions, then asked for my phone number. I said no, also refusing the lift to my destination, but one of them gave me his phone number 'just in case'.
It's what I call the blonde-hair effect. This kind of thing never happened to me as a brunette, but as a blonde, it's, well, fairly common. I admire these men for making the effort and I feel a bit guilty that I generally turn them down. Perhaps I should open my mind a little more?
Flashing the Window Cleaner
It's been sunny for 5 days now and I've been leaving the bedroom curtains open to let in the gorgeous sunlight. Now, I'm usually quite cautious about who can see 'in' but since I'm in a flat, there is NO ONE who can casually stroll past and look through the windows. I've checked this from several angles and there aren't any neighbours who can see in either.
This morning I strolled back into my bedroom, pulling off my shirt over my head, and heard a noise. Looked up. Screamed, and dropped to the floor. I had just flashed the window cleaner and now I was hiding by the side of the bed. I knew I had to get out of there, so I crossed my arms over my chest and bolted out of the room.
And tripped over the washing line, still in full view of the window cleaner.
Is it any wonder I spent the next 10 minutes hiding out in the kitchen until I could be sure he'd gone???
Yes, it seems I still am Bridget Jones.
Tequila, Salsa, Steam Rooms & Ex-pats
What a weekend. It started in a blaze of warm glory - a Mexican party to celebrate Cinco de Mayo (note the party was held in England and thrown by an American... hmmm. Some days my life is one big international mix-up). I wore a summery party dress and there were cocktails and tequila shots and laughter. I didn't get to bed until 4am...
...and of course there was a 9am phone call from Australia the next day!
Since I was awake I decided to go to the beach. Southport, in fact. But English-Southport is very different to Gold Coast-Southport. Sure, there are the tourist shops and ice creams and a carnival atmosphere. Kids and families and a pier. Kilometres and kilometres of sand. There's just one thing missing.
Seriously, I had to hike for HALF AN HOUR from when I crawled down onto the sand to when I reached the edge of the ocean. It was muddy and treacherous ... I came back a different route and was faced with a (backwards) sign saying, 'Danger! Do not proceed beyond this point!' Whoops. I have some great photos, though, and when it takes that long to get to the water there's not exactly anyone around to hear you singing at the top of your lungs.
Later that night I went salsa dancing with some girlfriends. I was amazed when the cutest guy on the dance floor asked me to dance. I forget, sometimes, that I'm a hot blonde (based on hair + figure). ;) No, seriously. (And coming from a girl who was always the 'smart one', it's still a little disconcerting when I get that kind of attention. I mean, attention from a special boy is fine. Attention from random men? No thank you!)
In any case, I had much more fun dancing with the girls because then you can just be yourself. No pressure, no expecations, just the salsa rhythm!!! And it was more girlfriends I spent the latter half of Sunday at the gym with (after church).
Now, the idea of Sunday afternoon in a gym isn't most people's idea of fun. But we gossiped on the exercise bikes, had swimming races, hung out in the jacuzzi and steam room, where EeMin decided it would be funny to spray all of us with water. And then had sliding races along the seats. (And I just realised that we inadvertantly acted out a male fantasy. I promise, guys, girls don't usually sit in steam rooms and hose each other! Honest!)
We impulsively went back to my flat, watched movies, and drank pina colodas (which I made... I'm getting quite good at mixing cocktails!) And that's when I realised it. In our group (only 1 guy, as usual), not one of us was British. We were from around the world: Malaysia, Brunei, Germany, Australia. So it seems I've done exactly what I never intended to do: I hang out with the ex-pats.
I finally understand it. :)
Some days you feel like you're going to explode with emotion. Today is one of those days. I've been sorting out flights for my visit to Aus, I've booked in to attend a Space Tourism conference (which has potentially huge impacts on my future), and I'm recovering from falling off Jerry (the horse!) last night.
I feel fragile. It was the first time I'd fallen from a horse and although I fell 'well' (aka Emergency Dismount!), it's still quite a hit when the horse is cantering and you hit the ground at that speed!
So many big things are happening over the next few weeks and at times like this, all you can do is hold on for the ride.
I have to take responsibility for my future yet I don't even know what country I'll be living in next year. It all depends on so many factors that I don't have answers for. Could I live in Brisbane again? How soon can I be employed in the Space Industry? What's the likelihood of getting a Canadian (or US) Visa? What work will be available in the UK at the end of this year? (Although I have serious doubts about my ability to live through another English winter. 6 months of wearing thermals was just TOO long.)
So many questions!
It was supposed to be a quiet weekend...
Half-past midnight on Sunday night and it's the first 'at home' moment I've had all weekend. This was supposed to be my resting weekend but life in Manchester can be just as much fun as trekking through foreign countries. :)
Tomorrow's post will be entitled Tequila, Salsa, Steam Rooms & Ex-pats. And it's ALL TRUE.
My life is insane. I love it!
The temperature rose above 12 degrees for the first time this year.
It actually got all the way to 22 degrees.
Is it any surprise that I went cartwheeling and dancing in the streets??? And rollerblading (at 10pm) until the homeless person scared me away.
Several years ago I met Matt-Matt at one of Kerryn's many parties - the 'new kid in Rochedale' who'd naturally been invited along.
Did I ever suspect that one day I would be trekking through Germany with his brother on a beautiful May Day, laughing and talking with dear friends, all whom I would NEVER have met if not for that connection?
That's what Tubingen felt like when I visited for the May Day weekend. Home. It's no secret I've been missing home a little more lately, and that's a combination of being bored with Manchester and knowing that I will visit Brisbane soon. I am already emotionally detaching from this place, especially since my job may finish sooner than I think.
The life of an IT Consultant is a constant war between boredom and adventure, stability versus the unknown. It's so scary when your job is never going to last (and the entire time I've been working, that's been the case). I've been lucky in that most contracts run for a year and I had most of them in Brisbane, but after this job finishes I'm into the great unknown.
Part of me craves the 'stable life', where I can set up a place of my own and purchase nice things and have that 'nice little life' where nothing changes and I don't have to think about moving or my next job. (And I'd get my dose-of-adventure from travelling.)
Part of me screams in horror at that thought - look at me now, bored after 16 months in Manchester. It's only 16 months. I have heaps of friends here, and go out almost every night, and I travel to Europe every couple of weeks. Yet there's still boredom....
Is it because I'm not committed to this place? If I committed to a place (and perhaps person?), I wonder if I would change. I think I would. It would be a different life phase.
I know I lack committment to the church - I always have the excuse of travel, or unstable work, as to why I can't be part of the team/council/whatever. At the moment I do the after-service-coffee but that's hardly a big committment.
So many questions! I thought I was over the Existential Dramas when I ran away from Brisbane but with everything I've learnt, and the thousand new experiences I've had, I still don't have answers to the basic questions. I'm just a lot more relaxed about it - if I don't find a job after this one, it won't be the end of the world, it will just be a way to learn about the world (and God) in a new light.
This entry was supposed to be about the awesome trip to Germany and seeing my 'family' of Danny, Xtina, Dorothea, Barbara etc. Perhaps I'll write that one tomorrow. Suffice to say that I had a WONDERFUL time. :)