It’s hard to believe that it is already the beginning of March! When I last wrote, I had all of February ahead of me and so much was still up in the air about how my time in Noosa would play out and what plans would come into play as I prepared to move on.
I was recently having a drink with some friends here, talking about our plans and ideas for the next few months. I am pretty solidified up until mid-April but I mentioned how I was really unsure what would come after that. To this comment, my friend David responded that the plan will present itself when the time is right and it’ll all fall into place. His thoughts really rang true, because when I look back at the past four (!) months, I really had no set plan, and to see everything that has happened makes me think that maybe this is just how long term travel works. While I am constantly contemplating what else I want to do and accomplish with my time here, I can’t rush the process and need to remember that opportunities will always show up, whether or not they are what I’ve expected.
February presented me with a good number of ups and downs. I won’t be able to recap every day, and honestly a lot of the days are a blur of sleeping in/naps, working, going to the beach, running the coastal path, hanging out with Haydn and the roommates… nothing super different from when I first arrived. And nothing too earth shattering either, which I’ve come to accept as OKAY!
Over the weeks, my hours of work at the restaurant varied, but I was given the chance to start as a server on the dinner shifts. At first, this caused some stress for me because the whole system was simply so new to me. I never really thought about the “process” of serving, but now I know it makes sense to need to clear the dinner plates before the customer asks for the bill, lol. As I typed the word “bill”, I also realize that a lot of the restaurant lingo/social interactions here are different. Here are some examples:
- Customers can either pay at the front counter or have the check (bill) brought to the table and paid with a mobile card reader. It’s common to be asked, “Can we fix the bill?”
- While tipping is not necessarily expected, we still ask if the customer would like to leave a tip when processing the transaction. To my surprise, a lot of people choose to tip, even if just a small amount. I try to make this whole “asking for a tip” as casual and not awkward as possible, but I’ve received my fair share of nasty reactions in return, i.e. a silent look of “did you really just ask me that?” and a comment “this isn’t America, we don’t have to tip here and I hope Australia never turns into a country like that”. Yoooowza. To be fair, 99% of Aussies I’ve met are super nice, friendly and polite.
- On the flip side, I’ve had some really great conversations with people who ask where I’m from and what I am doing in Australia. A lot of people are familiar with the States and have plenty of questions about New York as my common response to where are you from is “I’m from New Jersey, just outside of New York City”.
- One night, a Brisith girl told me she thought I was a really good waitress and I got all excited and told her way TMI, that it was my first restaurant job and I was so flattered by the comment I would write about it in my journal. LOL.
- “How are you going?” and “what are you after?” = “How are you?” and “What can I get for you?”
Anyways, I am now in my final week of work and looking back am definitely satisfied overall with how the opportunity played out. While I didn’t necessarily have the amount of hours I was hoping for every week, I still learned a TON, met some great people and put enough money back in my account to at least cover the majority of my living costs here. It was also nice to have the routine and structure of a low-pressure commitment during the week. This week, a few of the managers mentioned that they would welcome me back if I ever returned to the area looking for work, so I’d say I’m leaving on a good note too, which feels nice!
The weekend of February 8th, Haydn invited me to join him and some friends for a weekend of beach camping on Bribie Island. This turned out to be one of the most authentic experiences I’ve had so far, and we had an awesome weekend away. Haydn had been working to fix up his new truck with camping gear, and he installed a full tub rack/tent combo in the back. We picked up a bunch of food and packed up his other gear and drove the 2 hours south the beach access point on the island. Driving on the beach is always such a cool experience, and we were on the sand for about 20 minutes before reaching the campsite. It was about 5:00 at night when we arrived, and there were a ton of kangaroos running around on the beach, I even saw one come out of the ocean!!
We joined a group of some of the most kind and welcoming people I’ve met here, Haydn’s childhood friend and his family/girlfriend and some other people mixed in. We spent the next 2 days eating, drinking, relaxing by the campfire, swimming in the ocean and just enjoying the scenery! They had a full camp set up with a grill, refrigerator and freezer, portable toilet… you name it. I’m thankful for being welcomed so easily into the group and loved the chance to camp with a pretty fun guy.
As I mentioned, I spent most of the month here in Noosa, doing my best to take advantage of the crazy beautiful nature/scenery around me. I was proud to complete a full month of daily meditation practice, I read about 8 books, tried to go for a run/walk at least 4-5 times a week, went to the beach and swam a lot, cooked most meals at home, and more often than not was in bed by 10! My roommates and I joked that we were all acting like “grannies” but if you know me, you know that I had no issue with that haha. As I reflect back on this time, I realize that this was that “lots of free time” I knew I would have at many points while traveling. Overall, I think I made the most of it, and learned a lot about myself in the process.
As the end of the month approached, changes began to surface. Haydn was assigned to a new job down south, and set off for his next phase. Luckily I’ll probably be seeing him again at the end of March 🙂 February 28th was our check out date in the Airbnb, so I began to feel some pressure to plan the next month, up until Dad arrives in April.
I booked a 2 week stay at the Halse Lodge YHA hostel for the beginning of March, where I originally stayed during my first pass through Noosa. I am here now, and am happy with the decision. It is the closeset hostel to the beach and also a 3 minute walk to the restaurant, so I’m enjoying the close proximity to everything! I’ve been going to the beach every day; there is also a week-long surf competition in town so there has been a lot of activity in the area. Earlier this week I saw the dog surfing event, and went to a riverside food/drink festival with Esther and another Dutch friend named David. Last night the hostel hosted an all women’s art gallery with a ton of local artists and their surf-inspired work. Super cool. And tonight there is a band playing at the hostel, so I plan to hang around for that! I am aware that since being in the hostel, I am not making as much of a concerted effort to be very social, in the way I would during a more temporary stay. It’s nice to be around people and new faces though, and I think that when I check out on the 13th, I will be feeling ready.
So looking ahead, in one week I will be checking out of the hostel and leaving Noosa. I will certainly miss this place! I’ve grown to feel at home here, and am comfortable with my surroundings. I am thankful for that, but perhaps it’s also a cue to keep moving. March 13th is also the start of my 10-day Vipassana meditation retreat in Pomona. The retreat has been on my mind constantly over the past few weeks; I had some preparing to do since I need to bring my own bedding, and am restricted to wearing loose, long pants only. A quick shopping trip at the local Target took care of the items I needed, but I’ve also been mentally preparing for the task of spending 10 days in silence, sitting on a cushion and meditating for 10 hours a day. Through the daily practice and the reading I’ve been doing lately, I’ve learned a lot more about the practice of mindfulness mediation, what it means, and what it can do for you. I have no doubt of the benefits, but am sure that this is going to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Obviously, I will not be able to have any electronics/access to my phone, but they also have a policy against any music, books, writing, etc. I think that that will actually be my biggest challenge, considering I have my headphones in about 85% of the time and have grown to fall back on my journal as a way to stay grounded and in touch with my emotions. I have no idea what my mental state will be when I finish on the morning of the 24th, but I am hoping that I will have enough brain power to be able to write a true, detailed reflection about the experience. I do want to thank everyone who has supported me in this specific endeavor so far, I know how crazy it actually sounds and everyone who has taken my interest in the retreat seriously aka not made fun of me/called me crazy has been a big motivation for me to actually be accountable for doing it. I appreciate you and hope to have some interesting feedback on the other side 🙂 This was a big goal for my time here, and I am looking forward to accomplishing it.
After the retreat ends, I will be heading south to Brisbane for a few days. I booked an Airbnb as a bit of a treat, knowing I would want somewhere clean, quiet and private to “recover”. Brisbane is a relatively quiet city, so I am looking forward to an easy few days there. On the 28th I have a flight booked to Melbourne, the next real, new stop! I’m staying in a hostel in the CBD for 1 week, which I’m assuming will be a relatively similar experience to my time spent in Sydney. Dad arrives to Melbs on Friday the 5th, so by then I will have had the time to explore the city and can act as a sufficent tour guide for the 2 days we plan to spend exploring there together.
I’m really excited for Dad to be here!! His trip will last 2 weeks, from April 5-18. We will be doing one week in Melbourne/Great Ocean Road and the second week in Tasmania. We’ve worked together on the plans and will be doing some winery trips, sightseeing tours, and scenic drives along the way! The trip itself is certainly going to be a huge treat, and I am also thankful for the time I’ll be able to spend with him. We’ve definitely never traveled this way together before, so it’ll be new ground for us both! I know we have a lot of laughs and good times (drinks) in store for us too.
Well, that about sums it up for me here! I’ve loved the chance to stay in touch with so many friends and family from home over the last month. Your calls and texts mean more to me than you know! I am feeling very “me” these days (despite the fact that I am learning through Vipassana that the “self” is actually an illusion… woaaahh), and am so thankful for everyone who has stood by me from such a distance. I love you all so much. I am happy, healthy (despite a few nasty blisters and bug bites) and feel like I’m really thriving out here! Cheers to that.