Thursday, August 30, 2012

Sydney, Australia

Mannie and I, Champion's Bar, Sydney, Jan 1992.

Many memories of my 1 year in Sydney. Where to begin? At the beginning one might say! 

Let me first tell you how I ended up in Australia in the first place. I never had any desire to go there. I never mentioned that I wanted to go there. I happened so fast. I was all set to go visit a friend in San Francisco, USA. Sara called me saying that she was going there and "what about us traveling together?" It was all it took.

So, by the time we (Sara and I) arrived in Australia (via the USA, Hawai'i, Fiji and New-Zealand), we didn't have enough money to leave the airport! We called Sara's sister's friend's boyfriend. He picked us up and showed us around before leaving us at his girlfriend's flat (apartment). 

It took longer than we thought finding a job,  so we had many filler jobs in the mean time like selling roses (1 night), being "squeegees" (washing car window at light stops) (3 days).

In the end, I never had a full time job but a lot of very part time jobs like teaching French to University (Uni in OZ lingo) students. The coolest job I had was working as a B&W technician for a professional darkroom 1 day a week.

I did attend to a lot of concerts. I saw Midnight Oil, INXS (with Michael Hutchence!), Yothu Yindi (an aboriginal group, totally awesome!), Hoodoo Gurus, a few reggae and African bands, to name a few.

We did visit a campground where wild kangaroos came to us for food. The little Canadian girl  was impressed. I can say, without a doubt, that the kangaroos ("roos") don't communicate with "click" sounds like Skippy did in my childhood program.

My most cherished memory is meeting Mannie Torishiba, the man on the photo.  He was a gentle soul from Papua/New Guinea who came here (so he told us.) as a footballer. We met him one evening at Champion's bar in Sydney's suburb of Bondi. Sara and I were playing darts when he came over and said something to the fact that he could teach us how to play with a blow stick. (His sense of humor was awesome!). Over the next few months, we all became good friends and regulars at Champion's bar, a rough bar full of Maoris. (they look mean but are sweethearts really.)
He loved bottled Guinness.

I heard from Mannie was a few years later when I was in London, maybe in 1994.


Bob is the across the street neighbor.

He loooooves to be pet! He's always at the front door meowing for some love and attention.
He's the same built & his face his the same as my beloved Sam. He also enjoys a good belly rub. He's sweet and gentle.
He's like Sam dropped in a flour bag!
Not hard to love!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


This is not my usual "travel story" kind of post. A recent experience with Tibetan monks made me ponder about Buddhism.  About how Buddhists do not kill any animal or insects, as small as an ant.

This made me think of spiders and how I dislike them. They make me shiver in disgust. 
However, over the years and with the help of my encounters with many different spiders, I have managed to "control" my insane fear about them.

Here some of "famous" encounters:

- In my travels in Fiji, once we (my travel buddy, Sara & I) went horseback riding (with no saddles! A painful story), each sitting behind an experienced Fijian rider, whipping through a tropical rain forest when, I scream with fear in my voice: "SPIDER, SPIDER, SPIDER!" Straight ahead was a giant lime-green spider's web with a spider, waiting for us. (so I thought!) We narrowly avoided it. 

- I encountered many huge black spiders on the island of Tobago in the Caribbean. I just let them be and walked away (or run!), returning hours later in the hope they had moved on. 

- While stopped on a small tropical forest road in Mozambique, there was a tiny white spider that, I was told, was one of the most poisonous kind. It was on the outside front windshield and I, sitting inside the bakkie (truck).  I managed to keep my cool as long as it stayed put on the other side. I did not want to pass for a typical white Western female and panic. ...besides, I could not flee as there was the  dense tropical forest as I open the bakkie door. I had no where to run. 

- A friend in London, England, had a pet tarantula (yuk!). The beast was not in its cage but its sheddings were. (Apparently they shed their skin like snakes do.) I could not even bring myself to come close to them , let alone touch them. 

- This last story does not involve me. It is to mention how much some people have a phobia of spiders. I will not name him. (although Sara will know who I'm talking about.) A guy in England slept on his sofa because there was a spider on the stairs!  Now every body knows that there is no dangerous spiders in England!

Despite my notable improvement since then, (I do not run, panic or scream if I see one in Canada. I know that no spider in Canada is poisonous.) I still think that if ever, some unfortunate day, a tarantula cross my path, I would most likely faint!

To end this post, a quote from the Buddha:

“There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.”

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Rustler's Valley, Free State, South Africa

I've always been very lucky in my travels. I like to think that it's the aura I project or my Guardian Angel.
This story is no different.  How I got there is a long story, a compilation of events.  For months now, I had been told by different people that I would enjoy this particular music festival, the Rustler's Valley Easter  Festival.  I was thinking : "Yeah, yeah!, It's too far and too expensive for me."
I had been lucky to be living in Eshowe, Kwa/Zulu-Natal for a few weeks now when I bumped into a British girl who I had met in Zimbabwe a few months prior.  She told me that I could work there, at the festival, in exchange for a free entry to the 4-day festival. She knew the British guy who owned one of the four bar/stages, the Comet Stage,  around the venue.  I got hold of him and secured myself a job at his bar and a free entree to the music festival.  Next I spent a few days at a friend of a friend's house in Durban. He lent me his sleeping bag. (I had none!) His roommate drove me to the first town, starting me on the long bus (buses) journey that took me eventually to the festival site. 

I arrived there, found and met the British guy I was to work for. I still had no place to stay. I walked around and found myself at the only part of the 4-day festival, that was almost set-up. There I ran into a musician friend (I was working in a music venue in Capetown) who invited me to stay in his tipi, along with 2 of his friends. The best part was that the Tipi Village (it's official name), was a commune and the food was free. One only had to cook a meal for the group (9 people, I think) once.  It was the hippy-est part of the venue and home to the Drum Circle. 

Along with the Comet Stage, a place for musician to jam, there was the World Stage, where , you've guessed it, international bands and more "serious" South African bands would perform, the  Future's Field, a trance tent with live DJ and the Drum Circle, where all kinds of djembe drummers would jam, sometimes all night. There was also live performances of all sorts in the main building, and home to the official "Backpacker's". (another name is the Youth Hostel)

For more pictures and info, please check out my Rustler's Valley set on Flickr.

This picture above is an unintended double exposure. It's a picture taken at the Drum Circle and a pancake stand, on the main "road".  I was major pissed off when I processed the film back in 1998, but now, I find it perfectly reflects the confusion of the festival.

To read more on how I got there, please read this previous entry: