Reintegration into society

After more than four years of bumming around, it feels like it’s time for a change.  It all started in May 2008.  Years without a home, adjusting to a new time zone every half year or less, months after months of wearing only the clothes that fit in the maximum luggage allowance, which is not much if you also have to drag around 20 kg of dive gear and 10 kg of electronic devices…  About those electronic devices: I happen to own a laptop, an eReader, three portable external hard drives, an iPod, a camera (which used to be two until I sold my trusted ol’ SLR) and a mobile phone.  It may sound like a lot of gadgets, but trust me, I use all of them on a very regular basis, as any self-respecting traveller would nowadays.  Each of these items has a different charger and/or cable, sometimes even two (a USB cable and a plug-into-the-wall cable).  On top of that, I have to carry 176 types of plug adaptors, so that I can fit the three prong plug from Singapore into the two pin socket in Australia, but of course I also need the one that fits the Dutch one into the Singaporean one and another one that fits the Italian one into the Dutch and… well, you catch my drift.  I estimate that a universal charger and adaptor would spare me a good 2 kg… do you think the airline companies and electronic device manufacturers are in league?  Anyway, going off on a tangent here.

Back to beach bumming.  Well, the novelty sort of wears off.  Don’t get me wrong. I love travelling and will continue to as long as my body and wallet allow it.  But for a while now, I’ve started missing a few things in my life and in order to get those back, I need to… settle.

There you go, the word is out.  Shocked?  I doubt it.  Most of the people who know me well and whom I’ve spoken to recently, are aware that I miss sleeping in OUR bed, decorating OUR living room, displaying all the books I’ve read and still want to read in a nice big book shelf in OUR study.   I want to have my own kitchen so I can splurge on a slow juicer, a huge frying wok, beautiful wine glasses and a set of kitchen knifes for Stefano… I’m also dreaming of finally buying a big ass Futon so that Stefano can wake up in the morning without backache.  Sometimes I even fantasise about having a little vegetable patch in our garden, so we can eat our own organic veggies…

After four years of living like a nomad, working in the most exotic places in the world and having no other responsibilities other than earning enough money to eat, travel and buy a few other basic necessities – who needs a retirement fund? -, I’m looking forward to having “my own place” again.  But of course, it would be too simple to settle in familiar territories, such as Holland, Italy or Egypt… Been there, done that, time to tick a new box.

So here we are, trying to start a new life Down Under.  Australia has been Stefano’s dream for donkey’s ears and I would be happy anywhere as long as there is running warm water, electricity and no civil war.  And a tropical climate.  And Ashtanga yoga.  And fast internet.  I’m not demanding, really 😉

And last time I checked, Australia fulfilled all of the above.  So here we are and we have a plan, sort of…

Project Mission: Find jobs (with work permit of course) that will permit us to rent a nice place of our own and live a good life, anywhere in Australia where it’s nice and that will allow me to keep up a daily Ashtanga yoga practice and Stefano to catch lots of fish in his spare time.  We don’t want to work in diving anymore (also there the novelty wears off and on top of that, the waters are bloody cold around Australia!) but fortunately we have other skills as well.

Project Deadline:  End of January 2013 or longer if the tourist visa can be extended and we haven’t run out of money.  If not successful by that date, plans will have to be revised…

Project Itinerary: Perth to start with, followed by a drive along the South Coast passing through Esperance, Melbourne, Sydney (or towns “near” those cities) to visit friends and then the East Coast.  But that can change, should a golden opportunity arise before the end of our planned route or should gathered information point us in another direction…

Sooooo…… anyone with interesting leads for us, do drop us a line! 🙂  All we need is one kind sponsor, we have our CV’s ready for instant send off! 🙂

Anyway regardless of the fact whether we succeed in settling in Australia, it’s already a cool adventure.

I arrived about a fortnight ago and was warmly welcomed by Nicole, whom I’ve known for more than 20 years and who moved to Australia years ago.  We did manage to see each other a few times since her move Down Under, but now at last, we have lots of quality time to catch up and enjoy the friendship that sprouted when we were sweet (not!) 16 and had the whole world at our feet.  How amazing to reunite after so many years so far away from where we met…

As soon as I was settled in Nicole’s guest room, she and I went to work:  in between trips to and from her daughter’s kindergarten and her baby’s feeds, we looked for an affordable, reliable second hand car for me.  In Australia “it’s just around the corner” can extend up to a 30-minute drive, so being carless here is like being handicapped.  Within two days I was the proud owner of my very first car.  Yes, I’m 37 years old and have never owned a car.  Timmo was always generous enough to let me use his – a Golf 1 Cabrio (too cool!) followed by a Lexus 350 (super fancy!) and within El Gouna, I drive my father-in-law’s car, so I never had the need to buy one, as a car on a resort island in the Maldives is pretty useless anyway…   Now, finally, I had reason and opportunity and thus I now possess a white Mitsubishi TJ Magna Advance Station Wagon.  The car is as big as its name.  I can just about look over the steering wheel and I have no idea how far behind me the car ends.  But I love it!

Second on my priorities list, was finding a place to live.  Rather than staying with friends or in a hostel, we wanted to get a real impression of what it’s like to live in Perth.  So I borrowed a UBD (a.k.a. Perth street directory – I’m practising my Aussie jargon here), marked all the Ashtanga shalas I could find in Perth and started looking on Gumtree (a.k.a. the Australian Marktplaats, Craigs’ List, eBay, etc…) for rental opportunities in a 1 km radius of those schools.  After 5 days of browsing the Internet non-stop, sending emails & text messages, making phone calls and visiting houses, I finally, 5 hours before Stefano was due to land, found the place that we now call home.

The main tenant of the house, which I shall refer to as T., was looking for a person or a couple to share his 2-bedroom house in Scarborough with.  House sharing is very common in the cities in Australia, making it possible to live in a decent place for a reasonable price.  And T. could use the extra income, I would say.  He’s a 48 year old Uruguayan aspiring tattoo artist, who dreams of going back to South America, grew up in Australia and seems to live of nothing else but the dole (unemployment benefit), the rent we pay him and the pennies he makes with the tattoos he does (i.e. he finds people to practice on and sometimes they pay him a little for the material cost).  He’s a hard core environmentalist with a very personal and intense view on modern human kind (we’re all assholes, destroying the earth and each other) and it’s not unusual for us to wake up smelling fragrances coming from his room indicating where his elevated state of mind comes from.   But he’s got a kind heart, the house is spotless and the combination of location, price and quality make this a great place for us to live for a few weeks.  After six years of fridgeless existence, T. even agreed to buy one for us as I insisted that, although I could live without a washing machine in the house, we would really need a fridge.  I’m not demanding, really… 😉

Anyway, for the past week we’ve been, what I think you might call, settling in.  Getting to know the neighbourhood, finding which shops are where and open when, where to go for the laundry (no washing machine, remember?), where to find my organic crèmes, flaxseed oil and other health stuff (no, it’s not just a phase), what the best fishing spots are and all those things one does when one does not have a job…

So far, my typical day starts at 5.15 am, when my alarm clock goes off.  Yes, I (the crazy one) get up at quarter past five in the morning and at 6.00 am, I’m at the yoga shala doing my practice.  Stefano (the wise one) usually snoozes on, although on one occasion he got up early as well to try out his luck and his new fishing roads on the beach.  No results reported as of yet…  When I get home at 8.00 am, I either crawl back into bed to warm up (it’s not yet summer here in Perth!!!) or we get cracking on breakfast, consisting of a super fresh healthy juice (made with the juicer that we can fortunately borrow from Nicole) and crackers with avocado or something similar – today we went overboard though, with fried eggs and bacon  :-).  By 10.00 am we are behind our laptops, catching up with the world and doing research for our job hunt.  And then, at some point during the day, we go out to run some errands, to have lunch, to meet up with long lost friends (long live Facebook!) or to buy groceries or other items we suddenly seem to need, like proper shoes and decent clothes.

But course, the main priority is to explore job opportunities.  So we talk to people, embellish our CV, spend hours online investigating visa regulations, make appointments with migration officers and meet up with friends and friends of friends to gather as much information as we can, hoping that we’ll find what we are looking for in these three months that we have labelled “a research holiday”.  Stefano started practising mock IELTS tests, as it is highly likely we will have to do an English language test to obtain a visa.  I’m online looking for the dream job that will combine my language skills with the experience I obtained in banking and diving as a manager and as an instructor without having to work 80 hours a week.  I’m not demanding, really… 😉

If we are not out with friends, we are in bed around 9.00 pm after enjoying a nice home cooked meal and choose from one of the many movies available on one of our hard drives.   And so we end the evening warm and cosy, together at last after almost two months of separation.

It’s almost as if I’m going through a process of reintegration into normal society.  The little bird that escaped from the cage is now, voluntarily, sneaking back in…  while making sure that the cage door does remain wide open.

I’m paying rent again, I own a car, soon I’ll hopefully have a fixed address and I might even be filing a tax return again in the near future… Oh my….

Scared?  No…  I must say I kind of enjoy the idea.  For now…

This entry was posted in All, Life Travels IV ~ Nov 2012 - May 2013 and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Reintegration into society

  1. Pingback: A Fine Balance | Yaisa's Blog

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