Sunday, 31 January 2010

Things I love you more than...

...The scene at the end of a video game, especially if it's Mario
Knowing the answer on 'Wheel of Fortune'
Not standing behind tall people at gigs
Getting home just in time for neighbours
Vegetarian nachos with lots of jalapenos
Conributing a little known fact during Trivial Pursuit
Putting a toilet plunger on my knee and pretending it's a peg leg
When Steph curls/straightens/styles my hair
Grabbing an umbrella as I'm running out the door then actually needing it
Receiving a new threadless tee in the mail
Walking in heels and not falling over
Putting on bandaids when I do fall over in heels
Playing with a new piercing after it's stopped hurting
Not being able to see then remembering I have glasses and actually being able to see
Correcting the spelling of others
When my dogs don't do what they're told but are so cute I just don't care
Winning consecutive points in pool
Having both bananas AND strawberries so I can make delicious smoothies
Acually making said smoothies
Coffee with lots of powdered chocolate on top
Pretending I want to buy a twelve string guitar just so I can play the ones in the shop for free
Spinny chairs
Friends marathons
Going places I don't need to wear shoes
Really good mixed CDs
Not going to the dentist
Having a really good costume for a dress up party
A good sandwich
Frosty fruits
Playing bingo and the announcer saying "two fat ladies"
Colouring my lips with Smarties
Neighbours episode names
Hiding from you in department stores
When my chickens chase each other
Photos of pennyfarthings

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Things in Transit

Dan has been pestering me to write memoirs. Or recount more travel stories, and he's sick of hearing about "that time in hospital". As are we all. I'll probably talk about it anyway. For now, here are the things I thinks of my airport experiences, where a lot of adventures begin.

There was one time I was at Sydney airport ready to go to New Zealand and my dad lost my boarding pass, but that in itself isn't much of a story. So I'll start with Lima, Peru. For some reason, the cheapest way to get from Cuzco, Peru, to La Paz, Bolivia, was via Lima. It's in completely the wrong direction and involves two flights, a 12 hour wait, and stretches about as far as my purse strings, so it was a deal. About the most exciting thing to do was sit in the food court and leech off the free wifi, which I did about as long as my dad could stand skyping me. Other than that, I wrote postcards. After cramming in as many stories about the Inca Trail as I could and ensuring I didn't waste the Peruvian stamps I had purchased with my precious Soles, I went hunting for a letter box and successfuly located one using my very best Spanish (ie. pointing to my postcards with a questioning expression). The round trip took all of about ten minutes, and on my return I found the patrons of the food court standing about 20 metres from where they previously had been sitting. Having missed the English announcements, and as the loudspeaker couldn't express itself through gesture or interpretive dance, I was at a loss. After some time, everyone went back to their seats. I looked around until I found my traveling companion and had (apparently) witnessed my first bomb scare. Someone had left a suitcase unattended, and while it was probably just a bag of dirty laundry, the authorities were taking no chances. I was quietly confident that a bomb big enough to blow up an airport would impact us somewhat even given our 20 metre buffer zone, though in the end it really was just a bag of someone's dirty laundry, and there was nothing to worry about. That was about the most exciting thing to happen that day.

Entering Brazil from Bolivia involved an overnight train trip lasting about 13 hours. We went through Bolivian immigration, though to officially and legally be in Brazil we had to drive another long while to the bus station and have our passports and visas checked (the Brazilian visa was a saga in itself, but that's for another day). They gave me my immigration slip, told me not to lose it, and nearly didn't stamp my passport. That would've been a fun story to explain on the way out, particularly with my lack of Portugese language skills. After hitching a ride on a truck, we made it to our destination. A few weeks later, on entry to Argentina, we discovered a flat tyre. Dorothy, a 64 year old British woman and I, stood by the side of the road trying to flag down a ride. Eventually a tour bus pulled over for us and gave us a lift. There were six spare seats and six stranded travelers. It was seriously meant to be. Back in Brazil, packing my old kit bag to leave old Rio, I discovered their domestic and international airports were not in the same place, but approximately 40km apart. My itinerary involved flying from Rio to Sao Paulo to Johannesburg to Cape Town. So... domestic or international? We asked Alberto and took his word for the domestic terminal. Good call. Now remember that immigration slip I was told not to lose? And if you lose it it's a US$95 fine or a black card against ever re-entering the country. Well, I didn't lose it, but for a while I thought I did. There was a little confusion over my ticket on reaching Johannesburg, though the airline was the only one not knowing what was going on, and touch down in Cape Town was as smooth as anything. Success. I did see a girl in a bit of a pickle as she didn't have her yellow fever certificate, but after that long in transit, I really didn't care.

Now the crossover from Zambia into Malawi was a good one. We drove eight hours one day so we were close to the border for the morning drive. Javier, the resident Mexican of the clan, had done everything by the book to be granted his visa, though on presenting all the appropriate documentation was told he had to drive nine hours back where we came from. Brilliant. With a little sweet talking from Mutiso, our Kenyan guide, he was allowed in for the day. A detour later, we waited around for a few hours while he went to the embassy. The embassy's lunch hour came, during which we did some more waiting. And a little bit more, before we found out what we already knew - he had done everything by the book, and was allowed into the country. Already behind schedule, you can imagine how excited we were by a road block en route to the Luwawa Forest. Just what we needed. It was kind of fun though - the Malawian president was coming through town and all the locals had come out to see him and cheer. Our white skin was a novelty and a lovely thing to behold. The president himself was dressed in something Elvis might wear but in blue, and preaching to the masses from the roof of a car. What a hunk. The road to the forest was long and bumpy after that, not to mention narrow. Our truck had to run over trees to pass another car.

And then getting on the plane in London I was all but cavity searched. Arriving home in Sydney, they asked if my guitar was the only wooden thing to declare and waved me through.

What a world.