You would have thought the Jet Star rep had just announced the end of life as we know it; an enormous crisis of some abhorrent, unprecedented, universe-altering magnitude.
I spooned some more Pad Thai into my mouth and watched with amusement as the chaos erupted around me.
Children were crying and clutching at their mothers hems, men were red-faced and twitchy, women were anxious and screechy. Somewhere in the vicinity voices were being raised, and distraught phone calls to loved ones were being hastily made.
I can only assume that cancellation of a flight to Hawaii, is, naturally, something of great vexation to normal people- with only two weeks’ vacation and expensive reservations in paradise, it is somewhat less than ideal to find yourself herded to a hotel in Brisbane, of all places, I’m sure.
But my disposition these days is such that very little, outside my control that is, really bothers me in life. My travel mantra (one of them) is this: provided I am psychically unharmed and remain in possession of my passport and credit card, then nothing is insurmountable.
I had only a $30 hostel bed awaiting me, and personally- something which everyone around me seemed to be curiously forgetting- I had no real desire to fly 9 hours across the Pacific in a vessel with a broken windscreen.
Call me cautious, but I was only too pleased to wait for one which wasn’t going to deposit me gruesomely into the clutches of a shark.
Original image source: Creative Commons
That aside, I was admittedly rather chuffed to suddenly find myself, alone, in a five star hotel after three months of couch-surfing.
People like me don’t stay in hotels; at any rate, certainly not five star hotels with free toiletries and beds the size of whales and roof-top pools and enormous glimmering bath tubs.
I slept like a queen in a bed of alarmingly indulgent dimensions, then, upon rising and after a lavish soak, I danced naked, and very flamboyantly I must confess, around the room in a little celebration of life (as one is inclined to do when enjoying free sumptuous lodgings far beyond their means).
And I had much to celebrate! An extra twenty four hours in this splendid country, and then a trip to Hawaii… Lucky me!!
There were numerous friends in the vicinity of Brisbane that I could have called at this point, but I concluded that I rather fancied a day all to myself. Naughty I know.
That’ll be eggs benedict, people watching, and a flat white in the sun; plus a whole afternoon to catch up on life-admin in the sunny expanses of Brisbane library, followed of course by a leisurely swim on the roof as the sun sets.
To the long-term traveller, such simple solo luxuries are endlessly blissful. Learning to appreciate these small things has made me, I am almost certain, one of the happiest people on the planet.
(That, and laughing at my wobbly bits every morning.)
Crossing the International Date Line (I time-travelled, bitches!)
A miraculous thing occurs when one flies from Australia to the USA- your wildest Delorian fantasies come true! Certain mathematical oddities arise, and you somehow arrive in the USA before you left Australia.
What devilry is this?! I find it most unnerving; and, lacking in anything remotely resembling temporal competence, my brain starts to ache profusely when I consider the ramifications.
All I know is I got Monday twice- leaving Brisbane at 6pm yet, oddly, arriving in Hawaii the same day at 6am- and I felt really rather chuffed with myself for achieving such a thing; as if I had pulled an enormous prank on the universe, slipping unnoticed through the temporal net like an elusive international-date-line ninja, cheating my way to an extra 24 hours on this planet.
Even better, I now had my first ever stamp in my crisp new passport, and I was in Hawaii- a place appearing at first glance to be both temperate and accommodating, much like the wonderful country I had (not yet, apparently) left behind.
As the shuttle company took my bag, I found a string of shells being placed around my neck, and my ears graced by the lulling melodies of gentle Polynesian music. Aloha indeed!
That afternoon, nested suitably in a delightfully welcoming hostel in Waikiki, I eventually found my way (once I had managed, at length, to procure a banana; the foundation upon which all adventures are built), to Diamond Head- a mountain of somewhat humble proportions overlooking Waikiki- to undertake a light spot of hiking.
I say light and I do mean light; Diamond Head being by its very nature little more than a tourist’s stroll up a hill. 2-3 hours is recommended for the ‘hike’, and in places I’ll admit it is steep, but I found it about as taxing as going to the toilet.
I was up the top in half an hour, and then I decided I would run back down- just for the sheer hell of it, because there is no feeling like dancing the quickstep with gravity.
I think I became aware I was no longer in fitness-conscious Australia, and that I had definitely transported myself to the land of McDonalds and Freedom (freedom to eat as much as one may like, presumably), when people seemed genuinely confused, if not outright enraged, that someone a good deal smaller would be running past them.
I’ll admit this passive aggression encountered on the footpaths only made me run that much faster and happier, and I very much enjoyed squeezing past the various, and generously proportioned, bodily protuberances at lightning speed; supressing the urge to shout ‘think fast, ya’ll’ in my best Yank accent.
Afterwards, I walked back to Waikiki and propelled myself back head-first into the ocean.
It was busier than I was accustomed to (there is LOT of beach to go around in Australia), but none the less, beautiful.
A state of being, from a state of going
The other travellers at my hostel I found to be very friendly; open characters full of life and adventure. I was very happy indeed to quickly make friends and head out for a cocktail that evening with a fun Swiss girl, recently arrived from a six-week solo surf trip in Costa Rica.
Everyone has a story. And when it comes to stories involving the ocean, and adventure, and yes a little bit of romance, I’m in my zone.
I listened to hers enraptured, next to crashing waves, over Mai Tai’s, under palm trees, illuminated by the moon. We speculated between us what our adventures on the Hawaiian islands would bring, and I felt myself growing every more excited at my upcoming solo road trip around Maui.
Funny really. I had expected to be devastated by leaving Australia.
All indicators were pointing to a full blown breakdown; living there really had, without question, had such a profoundly happy and peaceful effect on me (more on this soon).
I had assumed that parting with it all- with the sunny lifestyle,the people I loved so dearly, the breathtaking natural beauty, and to a large degree, the identity I had constructed for myself [read: hippy beach bum]- would destroy me.
But instead, sat exactly where I was in that moment, I felt only a strong conviction that- in surrendering myself totally to the winds of change- I was in exactly the right place.
In moments such as these- of which there are an increasing amount- I am aware with blinding clarity that the ‘right place’ for me, is not, in actual fact, a physical place at all.
It is a mental, spiritual, psychological place that resides within.
It is a state of being, derived from a state of going.
And suddenly, sat right there under the moon, the stars, and the palm trees; pensively cradling my Mai Tai as a new friend and I waxed lyrical about the journey of life…. it hit me:
Quite simply, wherever I go, there I am. And that is the moment I live in.