" Jasmine and Chuck's Travel Journal" Jasmine12's Profile
I am writing this from the cozy location of an internet outpost in the most bizare place I have travelled too thus far. I am currently in Alice Springs...often described as a desert oasis.
After a what felt like a long 3 hour flight across the simpson desert and into the 'red centre' of oz...we arrived in the city of Alice Springs. This is a small city with a dry river and bustling backpaker scene. It is used as the base of further travel into the outback (specifically to Uluru which is about 5 hours away).
I find this place slightly disturbing.
As you look around Alice you see two things: white travellers and shop owners selling souvenirs ...
and dirty, barefoot, unoccupied Aboriginals. These Aboriginals, who have easily and peacefully lived near this land for thousands of years now sit (often drunk) outside the shops (run by white owners) who sell the products they make.
The government, in an effort to acknowledge this obvious situation, has gone to great lengths to include Aboriginal influence in all tourist attractions. This includes a push to use the Aboriginal name Uluru, in place of the european named 'Ayres Rock", a culture centre explaining the significance of the area, and an attempt to persuade visitors NOT to climb the rock.
Yet, despite these good-intentions, one thing remains clear: the aboriginals are talked about, but never directly involved.
In the cultural centre, the town, the shops that sell their amazing artwork, personal representation does not exist.
I know little about the Australian colonization, or the full effects of this tremedous exploitation, but what I do know is that being a tourist in this land illicits a feeling of uneasiness.
Charles and I chose not to climb the rock...we felt (at the very least), we could pay that respect...
After 7 amazing weeks at the tiny school on the ocean cliff, I have finally completed my university prac! I am basically a teacher now (i have 3 months left of university courses and assignments--but no more teaching). This is both an exciting and slightly frightening thought! I am actually going to be trusted to do this??
The day was crazy..the kids were SO excited about the 'good-bye' party, and lack of lessons. It was hard to say good-bye (and there were a few tears), but it was an exhausting 7 weeks, so I am relieved to have it over with.
Last night the amazing school stafff took us out to the best Thai restraunt in the city ("Jasmine Rice" is the name hehe). We had a wonderful evening, and I've developed such a great relationship with my supervising teacher we have plans to stay in touch here and when I return home. She was such a wonderful person.
Tomorrow Charles and I go to Sydney...he leaves sunday to go to Washington for Josh's wedding, and will be back in about 2 weeks.
I am meeting Joce. Lahaie and her boyfriend on saturday, as well as Barb on Sunday. I can't wait to see some canadian friends here in Oz..it'll be great.
Here are a few shots of my prac. This one is of the view at the side of the school. This is what the kids see each time they look out the window!! Sydney is about 30 min down the coast...in the distance of the photo.
Here are my adorable students (years 3 and 4)
Notice their school uniform. All kids in australia wear a school uniform
Charles has returned from his 10day trip to the USA where he was a groomsman in his best mates wedding. First off, I just have to say that i was expecting Charles to look as if he had made a round-world trip by foot when he arrived this morning (seeing as he was gone for a little over a week, crossed 4 time zones, and was on 8 different flights during this period), however, when he arrived at the doorstep this morning he looked like he just went for a jaunt around the block....and later that day decided that he would go mountain biking up Mnt. Keira before dinner....how does that happen? I was flat out when i made this trip in January?!?!
Charles had an absolutenly wonderful time in Washington. He does not have enough good things to say about the Whites (Mel's parents). Mel and her mom and dad entertained and took chuck sightseeing the days prior to the wedding and, quote. "treated me like a king". They have a goregous home just outside of Washington DC, and made him feel right at home.
Charles said the wedding was perfect (after Josh's nerves were calmed--he was sick to his stomach with anticipation), the locale was a golf and country club about an hour from Mel's place. They partied the night away, and Charles didn't sleep at all before catching the plane back home the next day.
Josh and Mel ane now in Maine and then Nova Scotia for their honeymoon
I am sad to have missed it...my only contribution was a short video clip i recorded while at the Opera House in Sydney...it was like a "have a happy marriage" blessing via satellite. hehe
Other related travel news...while waiting outside the LA airport during a 10 hour stopover Charles spotted Simon Baker (huge aussie star from the Guardian), and then during his 8 hours in New Zealand he got to say hello to the whole Brisbane footy team while boarding the plane (Charles now idolizes these very famous sports figures)
Phew...that's the quick rundown. Here is a lovely picture of the gorgeous American sweetheats
CONGRATULATIONS JOSH AND MEL!!! ALL THE BEST...
Chilly "hellos" from the Snowy Mountain Region of NSW. Charles and I made a last minute decision to blow some (very scarce) cash and head "to the snow" for a weekend of australian skiing. Yes, that's right, this country does have a bit more geographical diversity than I thought. In fact...the home of several aussie ski resorts is on an actual mountain range!
After about 5 hours of driving south west, we got to our resort outside Thredbo mountain. Charles and I were thrilled to hear Greenday, Offspring and POTUSA tunes on the way down--reminisant of our ski racing days and the garbage music we used to 'pump up' with.
Our first day of skiing was less than ideal. Icy slopes and slush bottom trails made it difficult to ski. However, it was a gorgeous day and just to be skiing in Australia was thrill enough for me. We took pictures and explored the hill (which is a little larger than Tremblant)
Overnight about 30 cm of snow fell above us, and as we drove up to the hill the sky got darker and we realized that it wasn't gonna let up
"Sweeet, what a dump man, it's gonna be freshies all day., rip it up!!.." were the comments made by our impossibly immature and severely hung-over guide. That's aussie speak for " great, fresh powder".
As it turned out the "powder' was actually very wet snow that continued alllll day. With no goggles the visibility was nil, but we had no problems having long hot-chocolate breaks in the lodge and watching the aussies outside marvel at the amount of September snow and adorn their car wheels with chains to get around. Bizarre to think that snow is such a novelty in some parts of the world....
Check out some pictures in the e-album
As I borded a 6:00am flight back to Sydney yesterday morning it hit me hard that this would be the last leg of my exploration of australia. I can distinctly remember one night when i first arrived in wollongong. I sat on the couch with my Lonley Planet in hand and, feeling so overwhelmed and confused, tried to tentatively plan the 3 major trips Charles and I would take over our 10 months here. I hated the feeling of wanting to do everything and yet not having any idea where to start or what to expect. And yesterday, after returning from the last 15 days of school holiday time we couldn't help but smile over how little we knew just 8 months ago, and feel pretty happy about how much we have learned and experienced since then.
We certainly would have done some things differently, and we would certainly like to see even more but, on a whole, our travels in this country have been amazing.
With just 7 weeks of school remaining the reality of returning home is slowly seeping into my daily thoughts. I just can't believe that this year of school, which required so much planning and consideration, is coming to a close...
(This photo is of Whitehaven beach, probably the most stunning spot i have been to in Australia. We arrived by sail boat and spent 5 hours just soaking up the beauty of this place. I didn't want to leave)
Picture the business oriented (yawn)capital city of Canberra on a typical tuesday afternoon...that's what 2 fittingly white vans, filled with stir-crazy Candians rolled into before the start of a 7:30 rugby game. We tried to pacify ourselves by taking a tour through the parliment buildings (a vain attempt to make myself feel better for missing tutorials and a presentation I was supposed to give), but soon found ourselves at a bottle shop, stocking up for what would be our pre-game tailgate party.
We seemed to be the only ones with this idea. We arrived early, sat around, had a few drinks...and discussed how we needed 'The Hip"
to complete the scene.
It was amazing the amount of Canadian fans present at this game. It seems as though the aussies have an affinity for us common-wealthers (or else a strong dislike for the Italians-tisk, tisk)
We had a great time decked out in our Roots gear (we could finally wear it without shame)....we lost the match, but it was a lot of fun nonetheless.
check out some other photos in the 'album'
The last of my assignments has been printed off the computer...the academic symbol that things here are coming to a sudden end.
First there was the Grad Ball where the official 'good-bye' speeches were given by the program faculty members--few of whom the students will miss. Then there was the farewell dinner with chuck's boss Hassam and his wife Sadi. Being invited to their new home for a Ramadan feast at sundown was so nice and says a lot about how much Hassam and his family valued Charles during his days at the shop. They tried to speak english the entire dinner, but i think it was one of the first times they had had 'non-lebonese' guests, so it was a difficult attempt. Charles and Sam are going to miss each other...but we have made half-joking plans to visit each other in our respective home countries.
I don't know how i feel about going back to North Bay. Of course I want to see everyone, but the thought of returing to debt and future indecisiveness is making me appreciate these last few weeks of lazing on the beach . I've downloaded applications for grad school --the boldest move I have made so far in my plan to yet again postpone my entry into "the real world" (whatever that means). I think Charles is getting annoyed with my reservations about pursuing this path....I'll figure it out soon I guess.
We have been getting a lot of calls and emails about when we are coming home (on the other hand, some people have seemed to have dissappeared off the face of the earth and we are left wondering where their current location is)
I did not want to tell my gradmother that I would be returning on Dec. 28th, seeing as I promised to be home by Christmas day . i hope she won't stay mad at me for too long.....
P.S: I put up a few pictures from some of the places I've gone lately...look under rugby pics
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