Friday, December 26, 2008

A southern (hemispheric) Christmas


I was going to title my latest blog entry “my first business trip” and cover the travel trip I co-lead up the central and north coasts of New South Wales with my fundraising team. But I got so fed up with being unable to publish most of the stories I most wanted to write about that I almost quit blogging for good. I got in enough trouble for mentioning -*gasp*- racial stereotypes last time. I can't imagine how my parents would react if I were to talk about ***** ********* and *** on the *****.

All I will just say it was an eventful trip. One English employee, to use the widespread AA euphemism, “fell off the wagon,” then got dumped by his finace, and had to leave after day 2 because he was too depressed to work. An 18-year-old Aussie kid who had scarcely left his home country town got caught in a rip current at Racecourse Beach and nearly drowned, and my co-leader, a Fijian fundraising veteran in his thirties dislocated his shoulder attempting a rescue. I returned to Sydney relatively unscathed and despite the casualties we, as a team, managed to hit our sign-up target for the week. Unfortunately I brought a dead camera battery, so no pictures =(

But back to the matter at hand, the birthday of baby Jesus. This has been my first Christmas away from home and, much like Thanksgiving, the holiday has had little resemblance to what I’m used to since I have no family around. Christmas dinner I ended up sharing with a group of Sri Lankans, one of whom I am friends with through work. We ate some traditional Sri Lankan food in the traditional way, with our hands, which was pretty awesome, and not nearly as messy as you might think given the fact that we were eating rice and curry. Apparently I’m “a natural” at Sri Lankan hand eating. Perhaps I was born in the wrong country.

I received one gift this year: a coffee table photography book of Sydney from the 30s and 40s. Not something that I would put at the top of my list and an item almost completely unusable for a typical backpacker/traveler. But the gesture was very sweet coming from friends of friends of my parents and I guess it will be good for the next seven or so weeks the duration of which I will at least have an actual coffee table for it to sit on. They also were sweet enough to have me over for Christmas Eve dinner for which they served seafood as Aussie tradition dictates: Sydney rock oysters and fish. Yum!

Today was Boxing Day, whatever the hell that means, so my flat mates and I took a ferry over to the entrance to the harbor (actually ‘harbour’ since we’re in Commonwealth territory) to see the sailing yachts take off for the annual Sydney to Hobart race. I'm tracking the race now one Google Earth and it looks like Wild Oats might take an unprecedented fourth straight victory. After the boats left sight around the corner en route to Tasmania we hopped a bus down to Bondi Beach, which was absolutely jam packed. I still managed to get in some decent body surfing in the less corpulent and supposedly much more dangerous section of the water. The lifeguards kept yelling at everybody through megaphones to move up the beach and swim between the red and yellow flags. But I don’t see how one can swim, let alone catch waves, when there are more people by volume than water.

Up next: I’m leaving Sunday for some music festival in the bush. I’m cooking for a band of 40 cabaret performers in exchange for free entry. It goes until New Years Day, but I’m going to dip back to Sydney to catch what is supposedly one of the most spectacular fireworks displays in the world. The morning of the new year I’m driving with my boss up to some idyllic beach/bay called Terrigal where we'll stay until we have to reopen the Wildos office on the 5th. So the next week or so should be nice and hectic. Can’t wait!

Hope anyone who might happen to be following the blog out there has had some good holidays and will make it through to 2009 in one piece. Speak to you then!

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