Friday, October 31, 2014

Where's the line?

Something I've struggled with since coming to Australia, and my blog suddenly having readers, is knowing how much to put out there.  Where's the line between being open and honest and having some privacy?  On one hand everything I blog is on the internet for anyone and everyone to read, but at the same time 98% of my blog posts in the last 8 months have been for friends and family back home.  The tricky part being that I don't actually know who reads my posts; it could be my 10th grade math teacher, my chiropractor, or friends of my parents.  I guess I'm just always trying to balance letting you all get a glimpse of my life in Australia, letting you know what I'm up to, but at the same time realizing that for many of the readers, they would never know this stuff about my life if it was all happening back home.  Maybe sometimes I'm just more aware that blogging can make my life a bit of an open book, and I don't even know who is reading it...

After spending an annoying amount of money yesterday afternoon buying clothes and shoes that fit the dress code for the staff agency I headed to the library.  I was able to see Louis for a bit before he headed off to work; he works about 2 blocks from the library so we often meet up there.  Anyway, I'm still trying to help Michael get his phone working, but it's difficult because he can be so ornery and he's started drinking again so he doesn't even remember our conversation from when we first started the process.  I don't really have much experience with Australian mobile phone networks and processes so it's a bit confusing.  I have to call the company today and try to get it all straightened out - he wants to keep his old phone number, but the transfer won't go through for some reason.  Anyway, due to the phone company drama I arrived at volleyball a bit later than usual.  When I arrived two of Rav's friends (Ray & Steve) were there playing so I played a couple games against their team.  They had gone one other night before I'd met them in hopes of meeting me (I guess Rav had told them I play volleyball all the time), but I hadn't been there.  I, of course, heard all this second-hand from Rav after their failed mission.  It was a really fun night at volleyball - everyone was super easy-going and just playing for fun.  I have a semi-funny, but mildly embarrassing story about burning hot tofu, but I think I'm going to keep that one under wraps.  I hope you all had a fantastic Reformation Day (or Halloween, depending on which event you celebrate).  As always, feel free to comment or shoot me an email.

A Lazy Halloween

It's been a few days, but I just haven't felt like blogging, and to be honest don't really feel like it at the moment either.  Caterina, Pukari, Emma, Rith, and I all went to the movies Wednesday night to watch "The Judge", so that was a lot of fun.  It was definitely better than "Gone Girl" so that was a plus.  I got an email yesterday morning from one of the staffing agencies I'd visited when I first arrived in Cairns telling me I had an interview this morning.  I had no idea what the job for which was being interviewed was, but it turned out to be for temp work in the Food & Beverage category.  So despite my lack of experience in that realm I was accepted and filled out all the paperwork to be an employee.  No idea how much work I'll be getting or how often, but hopefully it will be good and it should fit in with my teaching job at Nova and my working at Bohemia.  I just have a feeling it will cut into my volleyball time and I really don't want that - but I guess you can't have it all and I have had three months of volleyball already.

The cut on my foot is looking a bit better - all the scrubbing I have to do after it gets sandy and dirty at volleyball and then my laps in the swimming pool in the morning seem to be helping (or at the very least, not making it worse)...  It still looks gross, but I think it might finally be starting to heal.  I had a photo to show you all but it's just so gross looking I couldn't post it.  It looks a bit like a brain or something...very Halloween worthy.  I have discovered though that if I put a bandaid on the cut and then wear a sock it helps keep the bandage on and if the bandage does come loose the sock keeps the dust and dirt out.

I got to talk with my Dad and Cricket on the phone today; Crickett even sent me a photo of my puppy, who is no longer a puppy and whom I have never actually met - but isn't she cute!?

And just for the record, Halloween is pretty much a non-existent holiday in Australia.  They don't do trick-or-treat and only a few random places have any sort of decorations.  They also don't have Thanksgiving either (found that out this morning while reading the paid holidays at the staff agency).  Well, that's all I've got at the moment...maybe I'll feel up to writing something interesting tomorrow, but don't hold your breath :)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Cairns Weekend

Yesterday afternoon I was sitting in the kitchen/dining room talking with Matthew while eating a late lunch.  We were comparing notes on our foot injuries (his from soccer, mine from volleyball)
This picture actually makes it look pretty good!
I wonder if I can incorporate it into a Halloween costume since it's so gruesome looking?
 and our experiences teaching English, basically just small talk.  Anyway, Tusa was in the kitchen cooking and out of the blue he brings me a bowl of this vegetable stir-fry he had made and asked me to try it.  It consisted mainly of vegetables I don’t generally like, such as celery and mushrooms, but I found it to be surprisingly tasty!  I hadn’t totally finished it when he brings a pan over of another dish consisting (from what I could tell) of tofu, pasta, and soy sauce.  It was also very good.  He didn’t offer Matthew any though, but I shared a bit of the first dish with him so he could taste it.  I’m just curious what it is about me that entices people to randomly feed me.

Oh, and it was confirmed to me yesterday morning while working that the hostel is for sale.  Yeah, that information came as quite a shock.  On Friday two smartly dressed men came in and asked for the keys to some rooms so they could show some people around.  I couldn’t be entirely sure what exactly had been advertised, but had a feeling they were realtors.  Yesterday another guy came in asking to look around and see some rooms and he mentioned that the place was for sale.  I’m doing my best not to be nervous about the business being sold, but I really don’t want my tentative plans to stay until January to be upset.  It’s not much of a plan, but it’s all I’ve got so maybe that’s why I feel so protective of it.

I got the below email from Lesley today - I love having the option of living in the UK at some point, even if it means looking after 2 boys...
Great to hear from you we miss you so much I so wish that Adelaide had more to offer but so glad your having a fabulous time. Boys are great and if you're free we would love you back as a paid aupair.  Sort out your plans and maybe next year we could have you in the UK and the boys in school there.

I finished my biography of John Wayne and found it very fascinating.  I now have a desire to watch a bunch of the films (he’s been in a ridiculous amount of movies though) mentioned in the book, but sadly the library here only had “Big Jake” when I was in earlier last week.  Since I chanced finding the TV room empty yesterday afternoon, and had no plans, I decided I’d sit down and watch it before heading to volleyball.  I really enjoyed it, but John Wayne always makes me miss my Grandpa.  By the time it was over it was time to go to the courts.  For a Saturday night it was very empty when I arrived.  There was one game going on but the teams were full, and only Kaylee and Ben (a British couple who’ve been around for awhile) were there waiting.  Since we had no prospects of a game, and none of us were leaving, Kaylee and I ended up chatting about travel in Australia and the work we did back home.  Eventually Des showed up and then Bal and a few of his friends came so we were able to get a team going.  Towards the end of the night (well, my night since I had to work early this morning) I joined a new team with Peter and Junior.  I wasn’t 100% sure his name was Junior though, so I said to him, “Your name’s Junior, right?”
He gave me an odd smile and said, “Yeah, how did you know?”
“Oh, we played together awhile ago.”
“Ah!  Sorry, I don’t remember your name though.”
“No worries, I’m Abbie.”
“Oh, the famous Abbie!”

I have no idea what he meant by that, but hopefully it’s a good thing.  My name does get yelled a lot during games, especially when playing with or against Wally, Rocky, or Casey…so hopefully it’s for that, not my skills or something embarrassing.  Anyway, I got to chat with Josh for a bit and saw Stephanie & Tyeisha briefly as well before I had to head back.  It was so nice to be back at volleyball after 5 days off.  I’m hoping to stop by after church tonight and maybe get a few games in before I have to call it quits because of my early shift in reception Monday morning….

Friday, October 24, 2014

Catering & Lake Eacham

After job searching on the internet for a few hours in the afternoon, and having an early dinner with Louis on Thursday, I headed off to work for the evening.  I was able to get some one-off work helping serve canapes at an event catered by Alfresco's Catering (Shoko's partner Paul owns or operates the company -not entirely sure which- and they needed someone to help out for the night).  It was the easiest $100 I ever made.  Hand out little appetizers and clear away empty glasses from tables, easy-peasy.  The food that I tried was fantastic, they make some of the best bruschetta I've ever tasted.

Yesterday, after a quiet morning in reception, I headed off with Rav to the tablelands.  He decided I should see the crater lakes and chose Lake Eacham for a visit.  It's a beautiful drive up through the Gillies Range (The Gillies Range is a section of the chain of summits south of Cairns that separate the Far North Queensland coastal plain from the interior Atherton Tableland), if you don't get car sick.
 Thankfully, I do not, but when his family had visited his Mom hadn't fared as well.  We sat and talked a while, getting our daily dose of Vitamin D, took a swim, and then near sunset headed along the path on the side of the lake to watch the turtles.
  I couldn't believe how clear the water was; even though we were several feet above the water we could still see extremely well.  The sun setting over the lake was beautiful, and the drive back down the mountains towards Cairns, with the colors of the setting sun softly covering the fields in a warm glow, reminded me of home.
 Later today I'm heading to Tjapukai to ask about a job opening; Agatha's friend never called me about a job and Agatha told me she's working today, so I'm going to catch the bus out there and see what's going on.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Louis' Dinner Party

Yesterday was a pretty laid back day, I didn't do much.  I'm supposed to be moving rooms in my hostel again, but the room they want me to move into wasn't quite ready.  It came about in a conversation with Lou which they wanted me to move into and he said, "Who did you make mad?"  I just laughed and said I had no idea.  He showed me the two rooms beside the one I'm to move into and said I should tell Tim I want one of them instead.  Of course I couldn't do that, but I did go in to reception to check with Tim or Jay and see what they wanted me to do.  I ended up sitting in reception and using my computer there for most of the afternoon.  I chatted with Jay and Hyun off and on throughout the afternoon and at one point Hyun came over and set a coke and some cookies on the table for me!  I've smiled and said hello to him every time I've seen him for the last 2 months, but until yesterday hadn't really ever spoken with him.  Then around 4pm Jay held up some packets of a Korean-style ramen noodle and asked if I liked them.  I told him I'd never tried it, and he said, "I'm sure you'll like it, all my friends in Houston loved these."  I smiled and nodded and about 10 minutes later got up to leave.  I told Jay I'd see him later and he said, "you can't leave, Hyun is making noodles!"  Korean's are so nice! I sadly had to tell him that I was going to Louis' house for dinner (he knows Louis) and Jay replied, "Just eat a little bit."  It's rude to turn down food in almost every culture of the world, and I'm assuming it's the same in Korea.  The three of us sat down and I tried a little bit (well, I took a little bit and then Jay gave me more) and it was really quite tasty.  

Pukari arrived and we headed over to Emma's hostel to pick her up and head off to Louis'.  We had a Korean style BBQ (much like the one I had at Kimchi & Richy when Sam & Lisa left) on his back porch.  It was a delightful evening with way too much food (especially when I'd already been eating all afternoon!).  Louis wouldn't let me help with the dishes, so the three of us sat looking through the circulars and ads while listening (and sometimes singing along) to Louis' iPad playlist.  Pukari had brought an Ottogi Korean pancake mix, so despite already eating way too much at dinner (and then Louis cutting us some fresh fruit), Louis and I attempted to make the pancakes for dessert.
 The directions were completely in Korean (hence, Pukari couldn't make them by himself at home) and something must have gone wrong in the translating (or the photos on the back are a lie) because the batter didn't turn out like a dough.  You were to make a hole in the middle of the dough-ball and fill it with a peanut and brown sugar filling that turned carmel-y once cooked.  Since we ended up with a batter consistency "filling" the pancakes was a bit tricky.  Louis did an excellent job getting them to have filling in the middle and they turned out quite well anyway.  They were messy to make, as you can imagine, but also fun.  Everyone always has crazy work schedules, but I told them some morning they'd all have to come over to my hostel and I'd make some American-style pancakes (Emma & Pukari both love pancakes).  So maybe next week we'll have a Pancake-Palooza :)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Another Beach Day!!

I was pleasantly surprised when Louis walked into reception yesterday morning as I was about to finish my shift.  He'd just come from church and decided we should go to lunch together before we met up with Pukari and Emma.  I guess I should back up a bit, Caterina was having a birthday party later in the afternoon and Louis, Pukair, Emma, and I were all going to attend together.  Anyway, the sushi place he wanted to take me to wasn't open yet, and since I needed to at least buy Caterina a birthday card (when I'd originally been invited I didn't realize it was for her birthday, I thought she was just getting together with some friends at Kewarra Beach), we headed to Cairns Central.  We had our sushi, bought the card and after browsing the mall for a bit decided to sit and enjoy some coffee at Gloria Jeans.  He can always make me smile, and I had to laugh when he wanted me to explain why I don't like Obama.  His English is limited and he doesn't know how the U.S. government is supposed to work so it was interesting trying to relay my point of view.  I did the best I could, either way it was interesting to hear some of Korea's history from his point of view (that's where our conversation rabbit-trailed from after my explanation).  We ended up talking too long and had to hurry off to Rusty's Market so I could buy some fruit before we met up with Pukari and Emma.

The party started at a little beach bar where we had some cake and gave her the cards and gifts.  It was a delightful little spot that I'm told usually has a live band.  Other than Simona (from the Leukemia event) and Mei (from our dinner at Iyara), I didn't know any of the other guests.  I take that back, I had met Roberto (Caterina's partner) once at volleyball, but it was only briefly and we didn't really speak since I was playing volleyball and he had come to spectate.  Emma hadn't been to the beach yet in Cairns (because the city itself doesn't have one), so the four of us decided to take a stroll along the water.  By the time we got back from our walk it was time to head to the BBQ's to cook dinner.  After dinner we did play a bit of volleyball in a circle, but it wasn't pretty.  It was funny, but it wasn't pretty - lots of feet, knees, and heads were used in place of arms and hands so the ball didn't stay in the air too long.  All in all it was a really fun night and I loved hearing so many Italian accents again and spending another day by the beach certainly didn't hurt.  I do apologize that I don't have any photos, I took my camera, but never pulled it out because Pukari was taking lots of them - I'll have to get them from him later.  The water wasn't as blue at Kewarra as it was up towards Port Douglas, but there were still lots of palm trees, sand, and seashells....

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Port Douglas Day Trip

Pukari has been talking about making the drive up to Port Douglas for nearly a month, and Emma and I were keen to go along, but it just hadn't happened.  We finally decided that today was the day, but unfortunately, everyone else had to work (Emma, Louis, and Caterina).  He and I still had great fun, I always find myself more content at the beach and Pukari is so chill it made it all the more enjoyable.  We don't have to talk constantly and we enjoy the same taste in music so it was good.  The drive up there is mainly on a road that hugs the coastline so it gives you the most fantastic views of the water and coast.
Scenic Overlook on the Captain Cook Highway
  Port Douglas's beach, which sadly has the uninspiring name of Four Mile Beach, is beautiful and after stopping at a few different spots along the beach (his friend had a photo of the beach with stairs in it and we were attempting to find the stairs, but were not succeeding) decided to just give up the search.  I had packed a picnic lunch so we decided we'd just eat and go lay on the beach.  It turns out that the spot we picked ended up being the right place after all!! There was a hillside a couple hundred yards from where we walked onto the beach and it had steps leading up to the top.  We can only assume that was the spot of the infamous photo and there were some great views of the beach from the top.
 I did some reading, we took a walk, soaked up some was a delightfully lazy day.  After a quick walk through some of the shops in town we headed back towards Cairns.  With the sun starting to set the drive back was just as beautiful, if no more beautiful.  We did a few more stops at some little beach breaks on the way back so I got plenty of photo opportunities.  This area of Australia is definitely a tropical paradise.

We arrived back in Cairns around 6pm and since I was already covered in sand I decided I might as well go play some volleyball.  It was a pretty quiet night on the courts (for a Saturday), but I hadn't been there much during the week so that was fine by me.  I had to work early in reception tomorrow morning though, so I couldn't stay too long.  I don't teach next week so hopefully I'll get plenty of time at the courts.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Busy Week

We went to the movies Tuesday afternoon/evening to see "Gone Girl" and I can definitely say that it's not a movie any of you should waste your time viewing.  Not the worst movie I've ever seen, but a very dark (and strange, but at the same time semi-intriguing) story-line and too much sex.  Anyway, I got back with enough time to stop by volleyball for a little over an hour before having to head back and get to bed because I was working reception Wednesday morning.  After my shift in reception I had a lovely phone call with my favorite perpetual 10-year-old, it was hard to believe we hadn't talked in over a month!  I'm not always that good at keeping in contact with people on an individual basis, especially when I'm blogging.  After our chat I then decided to head to the library to write up a blog post.  As you now know, that didn't happen.  I was looking through the newspaper racks to do a quick skim through the current events (I try to stay informed every now and then) I saw Louis, so I took my newspaper over to his table to say hello.  Of course we chatted for a bit, but then I read my newspaper and he started to study - you know, the whole reason we both were in the library in the first place.  I finished my newspaper, turned on my computer and had just started getting ready to type up a post when he asked if I wanted some lunch.  It was about 3:30pm and I hadn't really eaten lunch, but wasn't really hungry either; I tried explaining this to him, but he just said, "Come on, let's go."  Not one to make waves I dutifully turned off my computer and followed him out of the library.  It's hard to talk in the library and he decided talking to me is just as good as reading/studying his English text book.  We had Vietnamese soup at one of his favorite spots and talked until it was time for him to go to work.  He rushed off to work and I rushed off to meet Pukari and Caterina.  We'd decided to participate in the Leukemia Foundation's Light the Night event.  Caterina's friend Simona also joined us and she was an absolute delight.  She has a fantastic sense of humor and her classic Italian accent made everything seem funnier to me.  We had a lot of fun together and really enjoyed taking part in the walk.
 There were White, Gold, and Blue lanterns: white for those with Leukemia, gold for those remembering a loved one with leukemia, and blue for the general supports.

This morning (Thursday) was my last day with Hiro-san.  He's such an enjoyable gentleman to teach and is a very interesting person.  He owns a pharmacy in Kawasaki City and is also certified in Chinese Medicine (trained in China).  He was telling me about some of his patients and what it's like to practice Chinese Medicine in Japan.  He can only do consultations, he can't actually examine the patients, because his license isn't recognized in Japan.  He also loves to scuba dive and has been to Cairns 6 times previously on scuba diving trips.  He has also been to Micronesia, Hawaii, Chuuk,and some others I can't remember, for scuba trips.  He enjoys making short movies of his trips and he showed Shoko and me a couple videos from his previous excursions on the Great Barrier Reef.

After teaching today I spent the afternoon with Rav at Crystal Cascades where we did a bit of swimming in some very cold water.
 On a disgustingly hot summer day in Cairns the water would feel fantastic.  After our visit there we headed to a Holloway Beach and sat talking for a bit.  At times I felt as if I was being interrogated, but in the politest and most I'm-truly-interested-in-your-answer way.  He's very easy to talk with and we definitely have a lot more in common than I would have thought on our first meeting.  He'd like me to meet his friends (or mates, as he calls them - he's pretty much Australian after all) and wants to hang out next week.  I already told him that I've been told I'm a heart-breaker and he knows I'm not staying in Cairns much longer, so I feel as if he's been dully warned.  Well, it's getting late and I'm working reception tomorrow morning, so I guess that's all you're getting for now.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Clifton Beach

I did decide to take Rav up on his offer to go to the beach Sunday afternoon.  This was after consulting my girls and Pukari as to the wisdom of such a move (I'd only known him for 20 min when he first asked me, and then he texted the next day to ask if I definitely wanted to go).  As Pukari said, "Just do it! Go to the beach tomorrow and if it doesn't work out you've make a friend!"  It turned out to be quite fun and I definitely have a new friend.  We have some random things in common (such as an affinity to Florida-Georgia Line and a distaste for clubbing and the TV show Mad Men), it was a very chill afternoon.  He's very intelligent and seems to have a good head on his shoulders for a 22 year old.  Since he's almost a Doctor he gave me a great explanation of the Australian medical system and the difference between private and public hospitals.  On the drive back he asked if I'd like to go to the movies on Tuesday with him and he also asked if I liked trivia.  I haven't been to the movies in a long time so I said yeah that sounded fun, and I love trivia so I told him I was definitely interested in that.  Him and a bunch of his med school mates go to a local pub for their trivia night so he said he'd text me next time they're going and if I'm free I can join them.  If you recall (I'm assuming I blogged about it), I did a trivia night in Adelaide when Jennifer and Tom visited - we had a ton of fun, but were terrible at it because it was mainly Aussie trivia.  I got back in just enough time to grab a super quick shower, make a PB&J sandwich and get to church for the evening service.  From there I headed to volleyball and, of course, had a lot of fun.  It was a great group that I ended up playing with and I never had to sit out a game, so that was nice.

Monday morning (yesterday), despite being the one day I didn't have to wake up early, I was up at 5am (it was raining and there's a broken gutter that gushes water onto a tin roof and it's quite noisy).  Oh well.  I had a lovely chat with the family during my weekly phone call home and had the pleasant surprise of Aunt Cindy & Aunt Rosie being at my house during the call so I got to talk with them as well.  After the two hour phone call it had cleared up and was sunny so I decided to go for a swim.  After lunch I called my lovely cousin-sister Heather and had a nice talk with her; we're making plans to visit Europe when I get home.  By the time 4:30pm rolled around it was raining again - I wasn't sure if they did the volleyball clinic in the rain so I didn't go.  By 6:15 it had cleared up so I decided to go for a run to the courts and if anyone was there I'd stop and play, if not I'd just finish my run and come back.  There were only maybe 5 people when I ran by the first time, but on my way back past Louis, Nina, and Moses were standing there chatting so I stopped to talk.  I ended up sitting there talking with Louis (Pukari showed up for awhile and chatted before he had to go to work and Nina and Moses headed to the Night Markets) until 9:30pm when I finally said I had to go because of work this morning.  Well, I'm running out of time and Rav will be here soon to head to the movies.  I'll have to blog later about my student this week and the movie we're going to see.  I have no idea what it's about, but hopefully I like it.

Friday, October 10, 2014


Despite being thousands of miles away my amazing sisters still thought of me while doing our annual pumpkin carving event that I sadly had to miss this year.
Missing In Australia
It's events like those that make me miss home, well, not so much the event itself, but the people and the fun I know I would have had.  Yesterday was an interesting day.  While sitting in the library a young man started chatting me up, well, whispering technically because we were in the library.  His name is Rav (his real name is about 30 letters long, so that's his nickname), he's 23 and in his last year of Med School at James Cook University. In Australia you can start med school straight from highschool so it only takes 6 years.  He asked what I do for fun and I told him I play volleyball pretty much every night.  He said he'd been there a couple Fridays ago and didn't remember seeing me.  He said sports aren't his thing though and probably wouldn't be back.  By the end of our 20 minute conversation we were FB friends and he invited me to go to the beach this weekend.  I told him I'd think about it.  Another fun night at volleyball, played some more 2-on-2 but this time it was the first 3 games I played of the night so I wasn't as tired.  It was a really fun night and I actually remember to take my camera with me, so now you can get a tiny glimpse of what my volleyball nights are like:

I also got a text from Lesley last night just checking in and telling me about their school holidays; they traveled to the UK and Hawaii.  She said if I was still planning on going to New Zealand I could come back to Australia on a visitor visa and stay with them again.  I guess they were somewhere the other day and the boys told her I had taken them there or something so that's what prompted her text.  Always nice to have options...

Thursday, October 9, 2014

♬♪ Days Go By ♪♬♪

The walk back from volleyball last night was lovely: the full moon shining over the water, clouds just behind the mountains and illuminated from behind by the moon, and the tide was in so the water was lapping at the shore.  A solitary walk, but I could help but feel rather content - being around water has that affect on me, I'm not sure why.  Plus, my moments of contentment, when I'm cognizant of actually being content, seem so rare that I do my best to savor them.

It was so hot yesterday, I'm trying not to think about the fact that it's still technically spring here and will only get hotter and more humid!!  Due to the weather I spent the majority of my day at the library.  When I returned after lunch I ran into Louie and a few minutes later Rith showed up as well.  We all sat at one of the tables chatting (as quietly as we could) for about 20 minutes or so, then Rith had to head off to call the electrician or something.  Rith finally got his wrist straightened and a new cast put on so he was excited about that.  For some reason the doctors decided to put his wrist in a cast, but with it bent, so it was really awkward for him.  Anyway, I was able to help Louis with some of his English studies and was remind again that just because you speak a language doesn't mean you can teach it (and yes, I realize I'm currently getting paid to teach).    I'm definitely considering, rather seriously, getting my degree or certificate in TESOL when I get back home.  I don't really want to go to school (mainly because it curtails my travel opportunities), but I think it's worth the effort.

I ran into Ari at the grocery store and he wants to rematch Ben and Katia (not surprising at all).  He asked what I was cooking for dinner and because I was making Mexican Chicken & Rice I got the random tid-bit that his parents own a Mexican restaurant back in Germany.  That definitely surprised me.  Anyway, I didn't end up playing on his team at volleyball later on, and since I had to work this morning didn't stay late enough for us to get our rematch.  I did play some 3-on-3 with Wally and a new guy Toby against Rachel, Ben, and Toby's friend (never caught his name).  Despite leaving volleyball early and sleeping the whole night through, 5:30am came much too early.  I was to train a new receptionist today, but he never showed up, so my anticipation of an easier week next week (because Tim wouldn't need to cover reception) was wasted.  I'm definitely feeling the effects of all these late nights and early mornings (especially when the early mornings were unintended!).  Day off on Monday....

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A Total Eclipse

I'm still job hunting, but am having pretty much the exact same results as before.  I do have hope for a job with Tjapukai though because Agatha has a friend who works there and said they need people.  Agatha gave her my resume and a recommendation and her friend is to give my resume to her boss.  I still haven't received a call and it's been a few days, but hopefully I can at least get an interview - that would feel like progress.  I called about a job yesterday (I thought it was the first day the ad had been in the paper) and was told they'd already short-listed applicants and had received over 50 responses over the weekend!!  I've got some stiff competition apparently.  I knew that Cairns had the highest unemployment rates in the country, but figured they would WANT to hire people just short term, but I guess it's not like in the states where they can hire you as a temp and pay you less.  Ugh, enough of that useless insight into the current job market.  Shoko called yesterday and I'll be working Tuesday and Thursday of next week.  Sadly, when you add up the hours from those 2 days it equals the same pay as I'd get for only working my usual Wed. shift (Wed. are field trip days so I usually get paid to go along).  Oh well, it will give me something to do.

       Things at the hostel are a bit, how shall I put this, uncertain.  Agatha, Alicia, and Jay all got fired last week (apparently the hostel just isn't doing well enough financially to employ them anymore), so this is their last week here.  Now Tim (the manager) will be doing everything those three did (which is impossible).  He was to cover the morning shift the last few days and yesterday when I left to go to Tai-Chi around 6:45 reception still wasn't open (and therefore breakfast hadn't been put out).  I debated whether I should at least just put out the breakfast for the sake of everyone else that lives there, but decided against it.  When I got back a bit after 8am I ran into Lou and his wife Lesley, she told me she had just put out breakfast for everyone that was waiting.  Agatha told me the other night that, basically, if things get too unbearable here with the chaos and disorganization, I can always come live with her and Alicia.  She said she feels bad leaving me here and she's still my friend.  It was so incredibly sweet of her - I just love those two.  There's also rumors flying around that we're all going to be moved into one building (there are 3) because of renovations or something.  Agatha hinted as much to me and someone this morning told them Tim had said something similar to them.  No time-line for such a thing, but it will probably happen all in one day with not real prior warning.  I try not to worry about it - it would definitely be easier if I had another job though.  Then I could just move back to the Cairns Girls hostel and pay for my room.  Granted, I'm sure there are other hostels in town that do work for accommodation, I could always try to find one of those.

Tuesday night we finally had our dinner at Iyara.  Rith lives with the Thai family that owns the restaurant, so the last time we'd gone out to dinner (spontaneously) we decided we should make a plan to visit Iyara since none of us had tried it and Pukari was really keen.  It took awhile before we could get our four schedules to coincide and we hoped to invited some others once we had a date.  In the end Emma had to work so she couldn't come, but Caterina (mine and Pukari's new friend from volleyball) said she'd love to come and she brought a friend from work so we had an even six.
 It was very fun and worked out well because everyone at the table at least knew someone else even if they didn't know everyone in the group (if that makes sense).  The restaurant is one the esplanade and is on the second floor: our table was on the balcony with a view of the palm trees, footpath, and water beyond.  After a delicious dinner we all decided to get some gelato and take a walk towards the pier.  It was nice to get to know everyone better and we decided we should definitely all go bowling sometime since Rith is still unable to play volleyball because his arm is in a cast.  Caterina wants to go to the movies some night and Pukari told her if she plans it we'd come.  She said if she plans it she gets to pick the movie as well, and I agreed that it was only fair, but there was some protest from the boys - I think they're afraid she'll pick a chick-flick or something.  It was a great evening, and even though it was way more than I'd normally every pay for a meal it was worth it.

Last night was a lunar eclipse (found out that tidbit of information from Caterina at dinner Tuesday night) but I totally forgot until I arrived at the waterfront to see the amazing full moon shining overtop the hill and illuminating the water.  Caterina's reminder to bring my camera the night before hadn't made enough of an impression I guess, because I'd arrived without it and didn't want to walk all the way back.  Thankfully, the courts have the perfect vantage point so I was able to see the whole thing, start to finish while playing volleyball.  Multi-tasking at its finest.  Anyway, a bit of background is in order for my non-Australian readers (which I'm quite certain is all of you): there's a well-known Australian chant/cheer often heard at sporting events:

You might remember hearing it during the Sydney Olympics.  Well, Rocky and Casey decided to change it up a bit last night and quite often when the ball was coming my way, or after I'd served, one or both would start "Abbie, Abbie, Abbie!"  It was pretty comical, since I'm pretty sure neither of them are Australian.  Wednesday nights are usually the quietest nights on the courts and last night was no exception.  Somehow after having already played for about 3 hours I was roped into playing two-on-two.  We'd just finished a game, and quite a few people left afterwards, so there were only 4 of us - the other court was full with Scott, Cindy, Alec, Lightt, and the gang.  Ari and Ben weren't ready to call it quits for the night (boys....always raring to go) so Katia and I split up and agreed to give it a try.  Ari and I lost the first game so we had to play a second "revenge" game.  We lost that one as well and Ben said we should play best out of 5.  It definitely wasn't evenly matched because I am terrible at setting the ball and Katia can - when playing 2-on-2 that's pretty important.  We lost the third and so I figured that was that (and said as much), but Ari and Ben immediately decided we should just play five games (they must be in better shape than I am).  Ari and I lost our fourth in a row and then finally managed to win the 5th game.  Once again, I figured we were finally done (five back-to-back games of two-on-two is very exhausting) but Ben wanted to play until they'd won 5 games!  I protested and thankfully was saved by the security patrol shutting off the lights for the night.  It was a really good workout though and I had to have sweated off a few pounds as well.

Whew!  This was one of those days where I felt as if I didn't have much to blog about, but knew it had been awhile so I should at least try.  Now I'm looking at all I've written and realized more has happened in the last few days than I thought!  I'm to be training a new guy in reception all weekend, so hopefully that goes well.


I’ve recently been reminded again of the expectations for me to write a book.  And once again, my first thoughts were that I had no topic on which to base an entire work.  My only idea is that maybe once my year is up I could somehow compile my blog and personal journal entries into something worth publishing.  My last read was the story of a young woman’s two years spent in the UAE, and I enjoyed her book very much.  My newest book is called “Sand in My Shoes” by Joan Rice.  It’s the wartime diaries of a young British girl who joins the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) after the outbreak of WWII.  Her writing style and the language used are a treat.  It isn’t a retelling of her diary, it gives names of many people without explanation of who they are, and words of reminder to herself – she never wrote it to be published of course, although she did long to be a writer.  It’s an excellent look into daily war life, “growing up amid the social whirl of service society”, and a young women’s dreams about life, travel, and adventure. I also love that it includes parts of her husband's diary, in conjunction with hers, to get another perspective on some of the same events.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from her diary:
“There is so much wrong with the world, so much in a nightmarish muddle.  Still there is this consolation: it’s a bad world but it’s not a dull one.  It’s got evil and stupidity and muddle but it’s also got excitement and adventure and variety.”
“Life is so untidy, fiction so much better behaved.”
Her comments on America finally joining the war: “I shall always in the future try to remember that though their cockiness and conceit does sometimes jar, at least they are unafraid to say ‘go to hell’ to those against us and they will never compromise or crawl in their dealings with their enemies.  We shall be one and in us lies the hope of the world.”
I guess I was most surprised by how normal she made it all sound – being in the middle of air raids and being evacuated at a moments notice.  Having never lived through an invasion, or war on home soil, I can’t truly imagine it.  I must admit her diary doesn't exactly help you imagine it either.  The closest I’ve come would be 9/11, but that was only one horrendous day.  Regardless, I would definitely recommend the book – enjoyable but not demanding.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Day 222

Jason had his daughters for the day yesterday, as he often does on Saturdays, and when I went into the kitchen to make some dinner they excitedly told me that they were allowed to spend the night.  I'm sure to them staying at a hostel is sort of like summer camp, plus we have a pool.  Anyway, a few minutes later Jason said to me, "Is it alright if I bring the girls to church with me tomorrow?"  I affirmed that it was definitely ok with me and he said that the girls were looking forward to it.  There were a few other people around, including South African Michael (as opposed to Kiwi Michael - the atheist).  We were all standing in the kitchen and he asked us if we were taking the girls to church tomorrow, and he said he thought that was great.  A moment later he told me he was religious and would I mind if he tagged along.  I told him that would be fine and gave him the time that I usually leave in the mornings and he said he'd see us then.  I was a bit blown away by yet another person asking to go to church with me.  
Some flowers the girls picked and gave to me
The church was having a ladies night, so I decided I might as well go along since I've been visiting for so long and still haven't really "met" that many people.  It was a really nice evening.  We had a little devotional with everyone sitting out in the courtyard area at the little tables.  After the devotional we had a time of prayer with the women at our tables and just shared some of the things that were on our hearts.  Lily asked for prayer for one of her daughters who is in a relationship with an unsaved gentleman and also for a speedy passport replacement as hers is lost and she's to leave for a visit to the U.S. at the end of the month.  Gabby, a young women I'd just met, asked for prayer about some things from her childhood that she'd been dealing with lately, and I asked for prayer and wisdom in regards to Jason, his girls, and Michael coming to church with me the next day.  After our time of prayer we decided we'd go ahead and watch a movie; after some debating a consensus was reached and we headed into the auditorium to watch "The Help".  I adore that movie, so although it's long and I wouldn't get to bed as early as I'd have liked to, I stayed for the whole thing.

This morning when I went down to breakfast the girls and Jason were down there eating but I didn't see Michael and he still hadn't appeared by the time we left, so I figured maybe he was hungover or had forgotten.  The girls did remarkably well, I thought, during the service and told me they wanted to come back next week.  It helped that they have little coloring packets for the kids, otherwise I'm certain they wouldn't have been able to sit still.
We had communion during the service and when we were walking back to the hostel they asked me to explain it to them.  They didn't ask any more questions after my explanation, so I guess they understood.  I ran into Michael while I was heading down to reception to start my shift and he apologized that he hadn't made it.  He said he had been up early, but was a bit hungover.  He said he really did want to come with me, so I told him he can always come next week.  He said he would do his best not to drink this week so he could go with me next week.  So, we'll see what happens come next Sunday.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Active Living

Sam and Lisa left yesterday morning, heading up to Cape Tribulation.  We all took forever saying goodbye and helping pack up the van - we even managed to get a group photo before they drove off.  They might possibly be back tonight because they hadn't been able to get a roof rack for their van before they left and still want to buy one.  I spent the morning at the library checking the newspaper for job advertisements and applying for some more jobs online.  So many ads sound great until I get to the bottom and they have the dreaded disclaimer: "We cannot accept people on Working Holiday Visas" or something similar.  Anyway, I got back and whipped up some tacos.  Pukari is always hungry every time we decide to do something, so I feel as if all he ever does is feed me (I think he just doesn't like to eat alone).  We'd made plans at volleyball the night before to go for a hike at Mount Whitfield Conservation Park, so I decided I'd make tacos and we could eat before we left.  Thankfully the hike was shaded, but despite the shade I was definitely sweating my way up the hill (it's mostly stairs, lots and lots of stairs).
 The view from the top of the Red Arrow trail was very pretty and you could see out to the water at certain spots - you can barely tell in this photo, but there's a little white sailboat out on the water.  There's another longer trail (Blue Arrow) that I'd like to do some day, but I'd have to go early in the morning - it's just too hot for this Western PA girl.  The Conservation Park is right next to the Botanic Gardens so we decided to do the Rainforest Boardwalk trail and visit the lakes as well.  The lakes were a bit of a disappointment, for me anyway.
 They didn't seem very lake-like, too shallow, but there were lots of ducks and I got a few good photos, so I guess it was worth it.  The boardwalk through the rainforest was beautiful, I really enjoyed that.  After our hike we headed to volleyball.  It was a pretty fun evening, but walking down all the stairs (for some reason) irritated my ankle, most nights at volleyball I don't even notice it, but not last night.  Other than the ankle pain it was a good night because I only had to sit out maybe one game.  Towards the end of the night I played a few games with the really good guys from PNG (James, Wally, and the gang) and didn't do too terrible.  Sadly, I always end up playing with them after I've already played for a few hours so I'm a bit worn out - I've already used up all my good "plays" or lucky saves or whatever you want to call it.
 The other night I was playing with a few of them, Scott and Cindy were on our team as well, and poor Cindy got a spike to the face.  It wouldn't have been so bad except she wears glasses.  She took it really well though, but after the game was finished her and her friend (who was on the other team) decided they were done.  After they left Peter told the other team (made up mostly of his friends) that they were allowed to spike now because "Abbie can take it" (I was the only girl still playing).  I felt like I had passed some sort of initiation rite or something.  I'm definitely getting better, but I'm definitely not up to their caliber of play.