July 9, 2014

Vagabonding Field Report: flat tires and bumpy road adventures (while pregnant) in Costa Rica

Playa Bejuco - 21

Cost/day: $50/day

What’s the strangest thing that’s happened lately?

We left the beach life in Nicaragua and are housesitting in the mountains of Costa Rica, above San Jose.

I’m 8 1/2 months pregnant, but that doesn’t stop us from taking a trip to the beach after we’ve been here a couple of weeks. You can see the ocean from our house in the mountains of Costa Rica, but it appears deceptively close. What we think will be a short drive to enjoy the sun and waves, turns into a 2 hour bumpy, off-road adventure and a flat tire.

I hope I don’t go into labor. ;)

Playa Bejuco - 06

Describe a typical day:

Our days have been spent at home at the mountain house, preparing for the birth of our sixth child.

But today we decided to take a trip to the beach today. Two bumpy hours and a flat tire later we finally arrived. The beach was large, the sun shone high, we picked fresh coconuts from the tree and found sand dollars in the sand.

Playa Bejuco - 41

What do you like about where you are? Dislike?

Like: Costa Rica is a beautiful country. We love being back (we lived here in 2007-2008). We’re excited to explore it once more — the beaches, rainforests, oceans, waterfalls and rivers.

Dislike: After living in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua for the last 1 1/2 years, Costa Rica is comparatively more expensive — housing, food and activities… but I think we’ll adjust. We’re loving it here.

Playa Bejuco - 32

Describe a challenge you faced:

I’ve had all my babies at home (except for my adopted daughter ;) ) I’d like to have this one at home in Costa Rica, but we’ve been working out logistics… can the midwife make it in time? Is there a hospital nearby?

Greg Rachel Pregnant Costa Rica

What new lesson did you learn?

Every travel experience offers joy and disappointment, pleasure and pain, beauty and the unsightly. Traveling well is learning how to embrace both… still true.

Where next?

Staying put here for a while… I’m sure you can guess why. ;)

Learn how to become location independent this year, connect with me on Facebook, or join our Fantastic Family Fridays.

Posted by | Permalink | Comments (1) 
Category: Central America, Family Travel, Vagabonding Field Reports

July 2, 2014

Vagabonding Field Report: UNESCO World Heritage Site, Luang Prabang, Laos

Cost/day:

$30/day per person

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen lately?

A stroll through the Luang Prabang morning market brought something different to my senses every time. One morning, I saw a woman with a pile of chickens on the ground for sale. I thought the chickens were dead, but one of them started to get up and the woman shushed it like a dog and it laid back down. A little further down, a large tub of massive frogs awaited purchase next to huge cuts of fish and pig faces staring back at me. Most of the food lay on the ground on tarps.

JuneVaga10

Describe a typical day:

After breakfast, homeschool and work are completed in the morning, we head out to do things like swim in the Mekong, visit the unexploded ordinances center, take a hands-on class in traditional weaving and natural dyeing or rice farming. We did a lot of wandering around the beautiful, quiet town just getting lost and finding little gems as well as riding a motorbike on the outskirts of town.

JuneVaga4

 

JuneVaga2

Describe an interesting conversation you had with a local:

It was interesting talking with our guide from the rice farming course. He graduated from college, spoke English very well and told us he could have chosen to work in an office. In fact, for a time he had worked in an office. But he grew up near the farm and the idea of being able to work outside everyday was more appealing to him than sitting in an office, even if it meant he would be paid less.  (more…)

Posted by | Permalink | Comments (0) 
Category: Asia, Vagabonding Field Reports

June 25, 2014

Vagabonding Field Report: Jervis Bay and Huskisson: Grey nomads and toe licking possums.

Cost/day
Green Patch camp in Jervis bays Booderee National Park is cheap as Chips, there is nothing here that asks you to spend money, only the camping pitch which is around $30 to $40 a night. This is money well spent for a beautiful haven of wildlife, woodland and beaches. If you have yourself a supply of food, you won’t find yourself spending a cent more. Barbecue areas exist but may need a good hose down before cooking!

Huskisson however is a small fishing town with various Whale Watching and Dolphin tours around the area. Various restaurants and shops line the Main Street. So you might find yourself spending a little more enjoying the area.

Describe a typical day
Jervis Bay is not a roller coaster of excitement which is the beauty of the National Park. It is a calm, tranquil, secluded piece of New South Wales.

20140622-184319.jpg
From our camper we cooked ourselves some bacon and eggs and sat at our camping table and submersed ourselves in our surroundings. Wallabies bumble about undisturbed by your presence. Various parrots and other colourful birds swoop around the green canvas of the trees that make up the woodlands. We entertained ourselves for a while before grabbing a towel and heading for the beach.

Jervis Bay has many walking trails around the different sections of the National Park. We wandered for a good hour taking in the fresh air and luscious greenery and calm before settling on the beach.

20140622-183626.jpg
We were told that it was the whitest sand beach in the world (although I’m sure many other beaches may say the same) and it was certainly the whitest sand we had ever seen. It seemed so pure and clean, untouched by any other elements. The sand crunched under our feet, reminiscent of fresh snow fall under boots. The beach stretched across the cove from the rocky edges that held several fisherman to the merging edge of the woodlands. The beach was almost deserted and blissfully quiet. So we sat watching the waters lap the white sands, we let the sun beat down and read our books.

20140622-183454.jpg
Later that day we had booked ourselves on a trip out into the waters with the promise of some Humpback Whale Watching, so we took our camper for a quick drive to Huskisson. A large speed boat waited for us and we climbed aboard and set off out to sea. The rough nature of the waters made for a great deal of fun on our search for sea life.

A very knowledgable tour guide talked us though the story of the bay – yet another discovery of Captain Cook. For a while it seemed we had paid for nothing more that a boat ride. Everyone’s eyes were peeled and eager to spot something but to no avail. The odd wave gave a little excitement of a possible whale spot here and there. Then after a long wait and from out of the blue a large juvenile male whale wanted to give us a show. For almost twenty minutes we watched from almost 50 feet away this beautiful creature diving from the waters and blowing water to our amazement. Many of the tourists clambered over each other for a good picture.

Before long the whale had grown tired and moved on as did we. We were on our way to a small rock that was home to a large family of seals which again we were excited to see. At about five minutes into our journey a small asian lady spotted some unexpected sea life, from each side was the fantastic sight of a pod of dolphins as they followed the boat at great speeds. They threw themselves from the water in synchronised acrobatics. We watched for a good ten minutes before another magnificent show was over. The trip was turning out to be more than we had expected!

20140622-184111.jpg
To end the tour we approached the seal rock where we found many seals sunbathing, unaffected by us being there. We watched as they went about there buisness; it was great to observe them as they dived into the sea and swim happily. We listened to their playful calls and snapped many photos. Before long It was time to head back to shore.
br />
20140622-183948.jpg
Back on land we had ourselves a fish and chips by the sea and bought some meat for our evening barbecue.

On our return to Jervis Bay,
we settled for the night and enjoyed a beautiful unblemished sunset. We sparked up a barbecue and enjoyed the company of an elderly Australian couple that had pitched next to us. After a long day we retired to bed.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen lately?

20140622-183759.jpg
The local wildlife here has to be the tamest I have seen in Oz, or anywhere for that matter! The local parrots were very fond of our bananas and would gather in the trees around our camp. At any given opportunity they would swoop in numbers and attack our food bags. Watching a brightly coloured bird try and fly off with a banana is amusing in itself. However even after sundown there was no escaping the hungry undeterred wildlife. As I sat tucking into a burger I couldn’t help ponder what the sensation was around my toes. With a torch in hand I had a startling moment when I noticed a possum happily licking my big toe! To say I was quick to leap up from my chair was an understatement! Although as quick as I was to jump up, so were the surrounding gang of possums just as quick stealing a loose sausage from our plate and running off for a late night snack. They were just as cute and amusing as they were devious rascals so we had a good laugh with them.

Describe an interesting conversation you had:
We were very fortunate to have been pitched next to a lovely elderly couple Steve and Leslie. You couldn’t have found a happier pair of folks. We spoke for sometime about our travels, England and other general chit-chat.

What was interesting was they described themselves as the “Grey Nomads” part of a generation of retirees who, in their own words, wanted to “spend our children’s inheritance on ourselves”. They had quite simply sold their house, bought a camper and hit the road.

They had more knowledge than we could take in. They gave us great places to visit, taught us some great amusing Aussie lingo and they shared many stories and made us chuckle all night. The beauty of meeting this great couple was their firm idea of choosing not to live out retirement as a pensioner with nothing more to contribute to the world. They made sure every penny and every piece of hard work and graft in their nearly 70 years paid off. They made sure they had earned the right to be happy and enjoy their freedom.

This really opened my eyes to the Australian culture. On reflection it seems that the English culture seems to be that you work your entire life, grow old and die (not all English OAP’s live like this but a large percentage) and hitting retirement means you hang up your hat and become useless and boring.

The Grey Nomads of Australia are abundant and it seems to be the best years of many of their lives. Steve and Leslie were full of life, happy and above all seemed unburdened by getting old. I wish them many more happy years. A truly inspiring couple.

What do you like about where you are? Dislike?
It was peaceful, calm and full of amazing wildlife. Our trip to Huskisson was an amazing day out and shouldn’t be missed by any travellers to the area.
The only dislike is the lack of clean BBQ areas.

What new lesson did you learn?
That getting old is inevitable but life is to be enjoyed how ever many years you’ve seen. Steve and Leslie really opened my eyes to the idea that even in my golden years there shouldn’t be a reason I can’t still be living the life I’m leading now. Just be happy and enjoy the fact your still breathing.

Where next?
Phillip Island!!!

Follow me on Instagram: Evolvedsky

Posted by | Permalink | Comments (0) 
Category: General, Vagabonding Field Reports

June 11, 2014

Vagabonding Field Report: Living the beach life in Las Peñitas, Nicaragua

IMG_2459

Cost/day: $30/day

What’s the strangest thing that’s happened lately?

After crossing two borders in one day, and hanging out in León and Las Peñitas, we’ve finally found a place to stay for a little while.

My oldest son discovered a bat on the floor in the room where’s he’s staying in our rented beach house. He tried to let it go outside, but it doesn’t fly. It crawled up a coconut tree, then glided into the attic of the neighbors house… oops. Sorry neighbors.

Describe a typical day:

In the morning we do study time with the kids, then they spend a few hours working on their projects (like creating with clay or drawing and coloring) while my husband and I do our work (with breaks for meals, which we eat together). Every evening we take a walk on the beach and watch the sunset. When we need groceries, we drive into the colonial city of León.

IMG_2442

What do you like about where you are? Dislike?

Like: Loving this beach. It’s great for beginner surfers (like my husband and kids — I’m not surfing, because I’m 7 months pregnant). It has beautiful sunsets, great sand and is good for wading and swimming at low tide.

León is a quaint city, with dozens of cathedrals. Doing our shopping there is a pleasure.

Dislike: Mosquitoes. Bats. We moved here in November and it was mosquito season. We were eaten alive. Hundreds of mosquito bites. Ahhhhh! And there’s a couple of families of bats that have taken up residence in the roof.

Las Peñitas has a great beach, and a great surf, but the town itself is run down. It’s up and coming, and there are a couple of nice rentals, but many of them are sketchy.

IMG_2749

Describe a challenge you faced:

Dealing with the mosquitoes was an annoying challenge, until we moved into a house that was on the beach. The ocean breezes helped to eliminate them, although we still put on pants and long sleeves in the morning and evenings, and slept under mosquito nets.

Oh, and I’ve had to take multiple cold showers per day, and sit in front of a fan from 10 am until 5pm. That’s what comes of living on the coast while 7 months pregnant.

And where will we have this baby??

IMG_3113

What new lesson did you learn?

Every travel experience offers joy and disappointment, pleasure and pain, beauty and the unsightly. Traveling well is learning how to embrace both.

Where next?

A housesitting opportunity has come available in Costa Rica. I think it will be a good place to have a baby.

Learn how to become location independent this year, connect with me on Facebook, or join our Fantastic Family Fridays.

IMG_2466

 

Posted by | Permalink | Comments (2) 
Category: Central America, Family Travel, Vagabonding Field Reports

June 4, 2014

Vagabonding Field Report: Experiencing life on a river in Nong Khiaw, Laos

Cost/day:

$20 per person.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen lately?

Both strange and incredibly, incredibly sad was seeing the many uses of empty US cluster-bomb shells. Laos was shelled continually by US planes during the Vietnam War. Injuries and deaths are still occurring to this day due to unexploded ordinances from these bombs, mostly cluster munitions. Seeing the use of the empty bombshells for flower pots, tables, etc. was shocking. Learning of this continuing–and mostly silent–tragedy was disturbing to put it mildly.

LaosVG

Describe a typical day:

After breakfast we usually do some work and homeschooling. We then head out to explore the area. We may hike to a cave that was used by the local people, including government offices, during the bombing mentioned above. Or we take a boat upriver and tube back, stopping along the way to relax on little islands in the river and watch the water buffalo. We may ride bikes to other caves and explore them with the help of the on-site ten year old guides. Or we may take a boat with a guide and then hike up 100 Waterfalls.

Exploring during the day was generally to a new place, but we always made sure to be back near the river around sunset. Watching the sun go down as the river came alive with children playing and adults coming down for various chores was a highlight. The river was the ultimate meeting point for the town.

laosvag4

laosvag5

Describe an interesting conversation you had with a local:

It was fascinating listening to our guide from the 100 Waterfalls hike. He had been a Buddhist monk for nine years before leaving that life two years prior. Apparently that was enough time outside for him. He was planning to soon reenter the monastery.

Even though he wasn’t quite back in the monastery, he told us that once that decision had been made he once again took a vow of poverty. All money he made being a guide was sent home to his mother.

What do you like about where you are? Dislike?

I like that it is a small town. I like that the river is the lifeblood of the town. The people are kind and welcoming. The sheer-walled mountains abutting the river create such dramatic beauty. The Lao food is a welcome surprise; so healthy, unique, fresh and flavorful.

The only thing that I didn’t like was the accessibility of the town. The road from Luang Namtha was akin to being on a dusty roller coaster for six hours.

Laos2

Laos1

Describe a challenge you faced:

If I had to pick any challenge in such an easy and peaceful place it would be the minivan ride over. The roads in Laos are notorious for causing motion sickness. They are both winding and full of potholes and ruts. Often the road turns from potholed to dirt and it creates a pretty unpleasant, dusty and jarring experience, hour after hour.

Just sitting back and accepting that this experience was going to be at the very least six hours was a bit of challenge. Not having any control over the situation is hard for me. Traveling full-time has challenged me in this area and after nine months on the road I think I’m marginally better now than when I started. Progress. All in all, though, if that’s the biggest challenge, life isn’t too hard, and it wasn’t in Nong Khiaw.

What new lesson did you learn?

Just remembering to slow down and revel in simple experiences. The majority of my most memorable travel experiences haven’t been seeing the big sites that we all travel so far to see. Many of my favorite moments have been things not listed in a guidebook or shown on travel shows. Simple things in Nong Khiaw like sitting by the river every night, swimming with my wife and daughter, making mudballs with local kids that we kicked around, and just watching and listening as a little town comes alive by the river at dusk. The beauty of the place and those experiences are treasured memories now.

River

Where next?

Luang Prabang, Laos.

 

Posted by | Permalink | Comments (0) 
Category: Asia, Vagabonding Field Reports

May 14, 2014

Vagabonding Field Report: Crossing two Borders in one day (and running out of money)

IMG_2357

Cost/day: $100/day

What’s the strangest thing that’s happened lately?

We left El Salvador and crossed the Honduras AND Nicaragua border in one day with our five kids (and ran out of money at the Nicaragua border.) Oh, and I’m six months pregnant.

Describe a typical day:

This was an untypical day…  after being unable to find a house we wanted to rent in El Salvador, we decided to head to Nicaragua to find a place. Since there was only a small portion of Honduras we needed to pass through, we opted to cross both borders in the same day.

What do you like about where you are? Dislike?

Like: There’s something special about being on the road, on the move. It feels good to see new places.

Dislike: Literally, the moment we crossed the border into Honduras we were stopped by police who attempted to get us to pay a bribe. Then we were stopped 5-6 more times that day before reaching the Nicaraguan border… not cool. (But we refused to pay one single bribe, so that’s good.)

Describe a challenge you faced:

There was a little bit of cash left in our wallet, but most of it had been spent on groceries. If necessary, we planned to withdraw any money we would need at the border. When we arrived, the entry into Nicaragua was more than we had remembered/expected ($12 per passport, and there’s seven of us.)

My husband attempted to withdraw money from the ATM to pay the fees, but the machine ONLY accepted Visa… and the only cards we had were Mastercard. We could not access our money, and the nearest ATM that accepted Mastercard was an hour into Nicaragua, or a couple of hours back into Honduras. What were we going to do?

Soon my husband spotted some European backpackers and thought he better take advantage of any opportunity he might have. He struck up a conversation, then asked them if he could offer them a ride to León, Nicaragua, in exchange for a loan to pay our visa fees (and a promise to pay them back as soon as we found a Mastercard ATM.)

Thankfully, they agreed. We paid the fees, then made room for our new friends and drove into Nicaragua. By this time, however, it was getting dark and starting to rain. The drive was a little intense, with lightening flashing, pedestrians walking in the rain, and the reflection of headlights off the wet asphalt.

At last we made it to León, made a withdrawal at the first ATM, paid back our friends then dropped them off at a hostel.

What new lesson did you learn?

Always have enough cash on hand before you arrive at a border crossing.

Where next?

We’ll be renting a house in the beach town of Las Penitas.

Learn how to become location independent this year, connect with me on Facebook, or join our Fantastic Family Fridays.

 Dennings Antigua Guatemala

Posted by | Permalink | Comments (2) 
Category: Central America, Family Travel, Vagabonding Field Reports

May 7, 2014

Vagabonding Field Report: Exploring Luang Namtha, Laos and overcoming sickness

Cost/day:  $20-25 per person

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen lately?  There is a type of vehicle in Luang Namtha that I have not seen anywhere else in Laos or Southeast Asia. The locals call it a tec-tec, which I’m assuming is onomatopoeic because that is the sound the extremely loud, water-cooled engine makes.

Tec Tec

Describe a typical day:  As with all of our days, no matter where we are, the day usually starts with work and homeschool. On the days I wasn’t sick, we would ride a motorbike outside of town to explore rivers, mountains, waterfalls or temples on our own. Riding a motorbike outside the town to the local villages was the highlight for us. Just watching daily life along the river, being invited for dinner into a home or watching children play with toys of their own creation were special moments. We also spent time with guides kayaking and hiking through the Nam Ha, a protected forest with small villages and stunning mountainous and river scenery. We had no means to cook our own food so all meals were eaten at one of the local restaurants, including the night market where we would eat dinner. We had no problems sleeping in the surprisingly cool night temperatures after all of the exploring we did during the days.

Kayak Trip

 

Luang Namtha 2

Describe an interesting conversation you had with a local:  Our guide on a kayaking trip explained that often schools are very far from some of the villages, requiring children to spend a considerable amount of time away from their homes. In his case, he lived so far from his school that he and his father built a hut next to the school. He slept in the hut during the week, only to return home on the weekends. This, he said, was not all that uncommon in the area(more…)

Posted by | Permalink | Comments (0) 
Category: Asia, Vagabonding Field Reports

April 9, 2014

Vagabonding Field Report: The coast of El Salvador

el salvador beach

Cost/day: $55/day

What’s the strangest thing that’s happened lately?

Between my husband and my son, they were stung three times during the one week we were in El Salvador!

Describe a typical day:

We’re driving most days, exploring the coast and searching for a place where we could possibly rent a house. Stopping at towns along the way, such as El Zonte, San Blas and Liberia, we check out the beaches and rental prices.

The roads are windy along the coastline in the north, with cliffs that offer vistas of the sea. Sunshine reflects off the ocean. The breeze blows, the windows are down and our favorite tunes are playing on the radio. It’s great to be alive, exploring this big, beautiful world!

IMG_2188

What do you like about where you are? Dislike?

Like: There are no speed bumps! After being in Guatemala for so long and their countless tumulos it’s refreshing to be able to drive without slowing down for speed bumps.

The people are super friendly, and love the children. They are constantly coming up to us every time we stop and asking questions.

We also found a great little place to hangout in El Cuco… a great campground with a pool and a short jaunt to the beach.

Dislike: We’re shocked with the prices here — food is about 20% more than Guatemala (we’d heard it was cheaper), and rental rates are outrageous! Prices are high, but the ‘niceness’ of accommodations are not. This was not at all what we expected. We can only surmise that rates are being driven up because the coast of El Salvador is very popular for surfers.

Describe a challenge you faced:

We’d hoped to find a house to rent for a month or two, but all rental rates were outside of our budget, and even if they hadn’t have been, nothing we found would work for our family of seven (soon to be eight.) Given my condition of being 6 months pregnant, I was disappointed by having my expectations unrealized.

What new lesson did you learn?

Expect the unexpected. You never really know what a destination has to offer until you hit the ground. Besides, everyone’s desires are different, so it can affect what their experience is like.

Where next?

We’re heading to Nicaragua where we hope to find a house on the beach that we can rent for a few months.

Download 101 FAQs about our travel lifestyle, connect with me on Facebook, or learn step-by-step how to fund travel.

IMG_2281

 

Posted by | Permalink | Comments (2) 
Category: Central America, Family Travel, Vagabonding Field Reports

April 2, 2014

Vagabonding Field Report: Motorbike exploring outside of Chiang Rai, Thailand

Cost/day:

$50-55/day

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen lately?

Without question it is Wat Rong Kuhn, otherwise known as the White Wat. I read plenty about this wat, designed by Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, and even saw dozens of pictures. Words and pictures alone did not prepare me for the grandeur, beauty and strangeness of this place.

White Wat 1

April Vag 6

Describe a typical day:

In the morning I work for a couple of hours and then we set out on the motorbike for the same place we go everyday for breakfast. We  always change up where we eat lunch and dinner in a city, but once we find a good breakfast spot in town we seem to never deviate from it.

After breakfast we generally hop on the motorbike and go outside of town to places like a massive tea plantation, Buddhist caves, various wats, museums, waterfalls or hiking trails.

After our daily adventure we head back to the hotel for homeschool and to finish work for the day. We then go to the night bazaar where we see the various local and imported wares for sale, mostly to tourists.

For dinner we go to one of the many local stalls selling a type of broth soup that is cooked at your table in a clay pot with noodles, vegetables and meat.

Tea Plantation

Chiang Rai Juxtaposition

Chiang Rai Market


Describe an interesting conversation you had with a local:

I found it interesting talking with the manager of the hotel about various locations to see outside of town. After going through her list of recommendations, I asked which were her absolute favorites. She answered that she had not been to any of them. When I asked her why she said she didn’t have time to go due to her work and family responsibilities.

It was humbling and a great reminder just how fortunate we are to travel and see sights that often many locals are not even able to see. It’s just another painful reminder how unfair the world is.

What do you like about where you are? Dislike?

I like the ability to quickly get outside of the town and see very beautiful sights. I like that the town and surrounding area are not overrun with tourists or owned and managed by tour agencies and large companies. It feels like the locals’ town.

I do not particularly like the town itself. There is not much about it that I find unique.  Even this, though, has a type of charm when viewed through a certain lens. I would just advise renting some form of transportation when in Chiang Rai because the magic in this area lies just outside the city in the hills, caves, rivers and surrounding villages.

Buddhist Cave

River Thoughts

Describe a challenge you faced:

I got extremely sick due to questionable food while in a village outside of town. I have eaten unidentifiable street food from Istanbul to Bangkok without even a hint of stomach troubles, but I guess I was due. The worst part was that we had to take a bus for six hours the next day.  This experience will not soon be forgotten.

What new lesson did you learn?

I was reminded that I tremendously enjoy having my own transportation, even it it’s just a 110 cc motorbike. Being able to get off the tourist trail and stop where we want has given us some of our most memorable and enjoyable moments. Simple things like finding a game of sepak takraw outside of town was just an unforgettable moment and really allowed us to see the daily life of the locals, something we always seek out.

Sepak Takraw

 

Motorbike

Where next?

Luang Namtha, Laos for hiking and kayaking.

 

Posted by | Permalink | Comments (0) 
Category: Asia, Vagabonding Field Reports

March 26, 2014

Field Report: Ayres Rock – The beauty and the culture of the red centre

A big red rock, Kangaroo Dancing, Thorny Lizards and beautiful sunsets
20140323-144410.jpg
Cost/day:
In our fist 3 day stay at Ayres Rock Resort we must have spent about $30 a day, give or take, on food and drink. This however doesn’t include the $25 for a 3 day pass to the Uluru National Park or the $72 we paid for the first 3 night stay on the campground. If $72 sounds affordable that’s because it is but we were lucky to have gone at the end of the winter season. This is when the resort offer 3 nights for the price if 2 on camping pitches.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen lately?
Have you ever seen a Thorny Devil? A lizard with spikes all over its body. It’s harmless and if you get near, it stands still hoping not to be seen. The friendly lizard absorbs water from its feet to it’s spikes across the top of its back for consumption. If you were to pick one up and place it on your arm you’ll feel the suction on your skin. They are cute but a bizarre looking reptile.
20140323-143910.jpg
Describe a typical day:
all activities on the site are included in the price. I would wake up and cook some poached eggs on toast from the camp kitchen. Catch up on some daily news with a coffee. I like to write before midday, an hour putting pen to paper. Get washed and ready and stroll into the town centre. A great indigenous man named Leroy can take you through some bush yarns (stories) about male and female roles in a mob (tribe/family) and talk you through aboriginal weapons and hunting equipment. He is a really interesting man and will happily spend time after to answer any questions you have. I don’t think I quizzed him once without getting a thorough answer – a very knowledgable man.

20140323-165418.jpg
Soon after weapons it’s time for Udarki (didgeridoo) playing with the Aboriginal Wakagetti team. Again some really great, wise, friendly people who take pride and enjoyment in their work. Be aware that the Didgeridoo is regarded as a mans duty amongst certain aboriginal folk. I loved this as it’s the first time someone has taught me how to really play the instrument unlike my raspberry blowing I did at school!

 

 

 

20140323-165620.jpg
Once finished its time to make my way to spear and boomerang throwing. This is a great deal of fun, hosted again by the Wakagetti team. Yet another great way to learn some really intriguing facts about aboriginal hunting. If you’re good at the boomerang throwing it is often advisable to duck, they come back fast! It is very enjoyable to watch all other participants climbing over themselves to escape the incoming missile!

Lunch time would be spent at the Kulata Deli where the best sandwiches are made by the resorts indigenous training team. We loved the sandwiches here, my favourite being a turkey and bacon grilled panini stacked with all the salad. This is more than enough to fill this hungry little man!

After lunch it’s a cool down with a swim in the campground’s pool and catch up on my tan. I was looking vaguely like Casper the ghost before I set out in this journey!

After chilling out I would head back into town to take part in the Wakagetti Indigenous dancing. They offer a tutorial taking you through various aboriginal dances. This is then followed up with a fantastic performance from the team exhibiting genuine cultural dancing. I couldn’t resist finding myself up on stage to show my best Kangaroo dance – a great deal of fun.
20140323-143709.jpg
Then it’s getting time to drive out to the Rock’s viewing point to watch a magnificent sunset over Uluru. This cannot be missed in my opinion – it is a far better sight to behold than a sunrise. If for any reason it’s a cloudy day don’t be down hearted, the most beautiful colours light up the sky and add an array of beauty to an already magnificent view. It can also be a very romantic setting where a cuddle or two can be shared.

Back to camp kitchen for goon (cheap cask wine) and food, typically a barbecue and to converse with the hive of travellers that congregate around the barbecue. Then it’s time for bed. Word of warning – try to hold back on the wine if your planning a sunrise trip because it can be a very early start.

Describe an interesting conversation you had with a local:
The most interesting conversation I had was with a local who worked out of the brilliant Uluru Cultural Centre. When I used to imagine an aboriginal person, I would see a tribal black man. The conversation allowed me to learn that Aboriginal or Indigenous people are not this typical stereotype we often see in books, TV etc. What I came to understand is there are a variety of colours amongst mobs and I was asked to understand that to be an aboriginal man is about being close to the culture you were raised in, to understand and love your upbringing and engage and learn the knowledge and stories of your elders.

I am ever inquisitive and we spoke for quite some time on this subject. I realised that I had a misguided representation of just what it means to be aboriginal. This is often overlooked and can still be misinterpreted.
20140323-144223.jpg
What do you like about where you are? Dislike?
I love the beauty of the surroundings. The desert is fresh and untouched. This is where millions of years of nature continues to thrive. The red sandy plains reflect the years of natural formation of its beautiful vast landscape. I am yet to find a place that has such varying beauty. The changing skylines give various backdrops to fantastic desert views. There are many beautiful sunsets to be experienced watching the skies light up night after night with the most vibrant reds, purples and oranges. In contrast to this is the powerful lightening storms that can occur. Large thunderous clouds sweeping the skies, lighting up the desert for miles around, often silhouetting Uluru on the horizon. The clear nights offer you a chance to gaze upon the starry cosmos. This leaves you with the euphoric feeling that we as humans on this planet really are just floating on a rock in the large nothingness of space.

I would enjoy watching many creatures that live amongst the bush lands. From the suspicious dingoes to a wondering thorny devil. The trees filled with Brolgas and Magpies to the Goannas that plod along on the land below. Moths the size of your hand, to the angry little Praying Mantis who would offer you a fist fight if you came too close. It is fantastic how all the elements here live and breathe together as one, each knowing there own place in the world.

The only thing I would say I disliked is the endless repetitiveness of the journey here. It is a long drive with very little in between and when your van was as rickety as our van was, you often imagine being stranded in the middle of no where. However I would do it all over again for a chance to relive this experience.

Describe a challenge you faced:
the biggest challenge we faced was the distance from anywhere. The van was in good condition for a motor of its age. The driving hours are long whichever route you take.

What new lesson did you learn?
Being here in the red centre allowed me to understand a very significant part of my English history. As an Englishman I felt ashamed by what had been done to the natives of the land. I was able to grasp a true understanding of what culture, friendship and respect really means. The strength of belief and companionship, the pride of knowledge, what it means to be alive and treating the world around you with respect. I learnt to be at peace with the world. I have found out a lot about myself in my time here. These are lessons and understandings that have helped me as an individual understand what is important in life and what we often miss in the modern western world.

Where next?
It’s off to Sydney!

Posted by | Permalink | Comments (0) 
Category: Oceania, Vagabonding Field Reports
Main

Bio

Books

Stories

Essays

Video

Interviews

Events

Writers

Marco

Paris

Vagabonding.net

Contact


Vagabonding Audio Book at Audible.com

Marco Polo Didnt Go There
Rolf's new book!


Vagabonding
   Vagabonding

RECENT COMMENTS

M.Jagger: Rod, Blimey….It was a blast partying with you at the local...

Ava Collopy: I’m currently working on a new book and website project to represent...

Caroline Macomber: I’m beginning to feel that it doesn’t end. But that I...

Stephen: Does it end, though? I’ve gone through several cycles of this over the...

Margie: I will never be a tour guide, but the prospective you have shown here will help...

Lynne Nieman: Well said! Although not a long term traveler like you, I have taken a few...

Dorje: Hi all. I was born in Kathmandu in ’71, my father ran the Rose Mushroom...

Gerry: Just reading Maureen’s comments [12thMay2014], My girlfriend and I had a...

jameselgringo: Perhaps you give too much emotional capital to money and its perceived...

Roger: He prefers traveling alone, actually.

SPONSORED BY :



CATEGORIES

TRAVEL LINKS

ARCHIVES

RECENT ENTRIES

Vagabonding Field Report: The Penguins of Phillip Island
Long term travel with a family: You have to really want to do this
Alden Jones on going back to the places that obsess you
My top beaches around the world
Skepticism and salvation in Cyprus
Vagabonding Case Study: Denise Diamond
Locked in or locked out- when switching it up means going home
Vagabonding Case Study: Christine Kaaloa
Vagabonding Book Club: Chapter 10
Travel writing has a way of being perishable


Subscribe to this blog's feed
Follow @rolfpotts