Monday, December 1, 2008

Back in green

In my last entry I pronounced the end of my stomach illness and of glitches in travel plans. Turns out I was wrong on both counts.

We arrived in Katoomba, the biggest cutesy mountain town of the Blue Mountains. I would probably compare to Asheville, NC had I ever been there. A nice lady at the train station info booth gave us a map and directed to us to a national park information center where we could learn about various bush walks in the area. What looked like a very short walk on our map ended up being a 40 hike up and down hills through the length of town. We made it to the tourist center at Echo Point just before the 5 pm closing time. The elderly ladies working there who looked as if they had never been camping in their lives enthusiastically recommended some hikes to us. It turns out they were a bit off in their times estimations though. Each hike ended up being twice as lengthy as they had estimated when they checked their reference books. The same ended up being true of their claim that it would take 30 minutes to hike the cliff-side trail to Katoomba Falls and the campground at which we hoped to stay.

At this point I’ve eaten about one full meal in the past 3 days, the pasta dinner I had cooked the night before. All I have eaten for the day is a piece of toast and a croissant neither of which felt particularly good settling in. So I’m not exactly in top form, and two hours of walking around carrying my backpack is not exactly what I had hoped to do this evening. So by the time I arrive at our camp ground, I’m ‘knackered.’ When I open my backpack—surprise!—no tent. I’ve left it in Sydney.

This presents a couple issues. 1) We have to walk back into town to find a place to stay. 2) It throws a wrench into our backpacking plans. We don’t have much in the way of camping supplies, but a tent was one item we thought we had covered. Both actually ended up being resolved within the hour as we checked into the local YHA which happened to have a tent they were willing to let us borrow for $20.

It all ended up really being a moot point as dinner that night treated me poorly and Montezuma returned with a vengeance. A tent is no place to abode for one in such a condition, especially when it’s 38 degrees outside and the nearest toilet is 250 yards away and requires a key to open. As my Scottish friend would say, I had “an arse like the Japanese flag.” So leaving the tent in Sydney was really for the best.

‘Brenda’ of course is not so into the silver lining. She took the news of my leaving the tent in Sydney like she had just been told her boyfriend had been, for years, secretly sleeping with her best friend. At current rates, it will probably take her just as many years to forgive me.

Anyway, so while ‘Brenda’ spent the next day hiking and horseback riding, for me it was walking from doctor’s office to pharmacy to diagnostics and then lab laying flat on my back in the hostel.

* * *

So at this point I will interject upon this narrative written one month and two days ago to inform the reader that having moved into a flat yesterday and regained possession of my laptop, which I had left at ‘Hank’s’ house for safe keeping, I can now resume blogging. And rather than continue the previous storey at the previous pace, I’ll pip the Tivo into fast forward a bit for the sake of your attention spans above all.

All I will say is that ‘Brenda’ and I left the Blue Mountains without really giving it the full go we had planned. We returned to Sydney and then parted ways. ‘Brenda’ Hopped a train up the coast to Brisbane to collect, fill out, and overnight an absentee presidential ballot that ultimately would not be counted and then meet up with a high school classmate of hers living in a lazy beach town called Lennox Head. I stuck around to follow up on what would be the final of many contacts that did not lead to a “sweet job” as I had hoped.

I did end up finding a job, though I wouldn’t describe it as “sweet,” except for maybe the title “Wilderness Defender.” It sounds like I should be out in the rainforest chained to a tree shouting at lumberjacks through a bull horn. Actually it’s basically a street sales job, except instead of peddling credit cards or cell phones, I sell the idea of environmentalism in the form of memberships to The Wilderness Society, an Aussie non-profit NGO.

With just 2 minutes of sales training from my boss ‘Richard’ under my belt I managed to sign up two people for 30-dollar-per-month memberships within my first hour-and-a-half of work. ‘Richard’ was ecstatic and hinted at a promotion in store for me in the very near future. I found this a bit premature as I still had very little idea of what I was doing. I reckon I know more about climate change, global warming and general environmental issues than 99 out of 100 people I would speak to on the street (which says just as much about the people on the street who are willing to talk to me as much as my academic background), but I don’t have a lick of sales experience.

After some ups and downs in the ensuing weeks and much coaching from ‘Richard,’ who says he has, over the past four years, “sold everything under the sun,” that promotion came. Today was my first official day as ‘Wilderness Defender Coordinator’ which simply means I get paid a bit more, get to carry around a company phone for calling banks and checking in with my underlings (I can call them that now *evil laugh*) stationed in various suburbs around the city, and will in the next couple weeks get to drive a team in the company van on an expenses-paid travel trip down to Wollongong.

In other news my I’m pretty stoked about my new flat. I now share a room with two others as opposed to the nine I have been used to in the budget hostel I lived in for three weeks just a block away. I’m on the 12th floor and have a balcony that has a decent view.

I’ll have to post an update soon with more about the job and living situation and some pretty humorous stories that I've left out, but I’ll leave it here for now since this is already overly long. Too many backorders and backlogs at the moment thanks to my paranoia about computer theft.

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