The Trials Of Returning From Travel

I’m not going to lie. At times in the last month I have felt like a wild animal backed into a corner. Trapped. And I just want to fight my way out and run off. The truth is, it is a lot of confronting things you don’t like, that don’t resonate with you anymore, and doing things that you don’t want to do. Yes, I know, life contains all manner of things that you don’t want to do that you have to, including finding a job and somewhere to live. They so rightly term it ‘adulting’. But right now, I just don’t want to deal with any of it. I am throwing the dummy out of the pram big time.

When I first got back I had all these thoughts of how I was going to find a lovely house and make myself a compost and vegetable garden with herbs and lettuce. I was going to throw fabulous dinner parties for my friends and make amazing food from around the world with country-themed meals. I was going to be zen-as-fuck and meditate everyday, do yoga for stretching my back even though I hate it. I was going to jump on Tinder, go speed dating and meet some lovely guy and message people to catch up and make loads of new friends and life would be smashingly wonderful.

Instead, I find myself fighting to get paperwork completed so that I can get money or actually apply for a job. I am definitely nowhere near zen, I live in a state of perpetual annoyance because of how much I have to do, and none of these involve socializing, cooking good food or gardening. I did however start Tindering and two weeks into it I am bored as shit. I don’t have any energy to put forward to make a decent first impression, which let’s face it (especially for anyone who has actually met me), is difficult at the best of times. I am too tired to even want to get up  out of bed in the morning and do anything and massively snowed down with a list of things to do that is longer than my forearm and never seems to get any shorter. The mountains of shit and things pile up around me and I feel smothered by the whole lot of it. It is too much to organise, too much to deal with and I have gone into total shut down mode with it all.

The other thing with getting set up is the general bullshit bureaucracy of it all. It is incredibly difficult for some members of organisations to believe that ‘no, you didn’t have a house and somewhere to live permanently for the last year and a half’ and ‘no, you didn’t have a phone number’, and ‘no, you haven’t lived the conventional life that fits into their very square-shaped mould, and what are you supposed to do if you’re a lovely dodecahedron instead?’

I have spent much of my time fighting with organizations who do not have policies for people that live anything other than the very standard straight line of expected life. How ’bout you ask me to list ever single place I have lived in the last ten years and then question me about why there is a gap? Or why there is a gap in my resume? Or why all of my life dates don’t line up in a nice continuum of the expected? Because I travelled dipshits! I choose this! Why can’t you accept that I chose unemployment and homelessness for a year and a half? Fuck me! Ok, here, just have my childhood address to fill gaps for the sake of it even though I wasn’t in the country! Stupidity!

That and I am fast becoming morning coffee buddies with the JP’s that work in the Civic Centre because I am in there so frequently getting documents signed after I am emailed to be informed I need ‘yet another document’. Why? “Oh no, if you work in another country we don’t consider this as demonstrating that you understand anything about how that same job works in Australia. You can go back to being a ‘provisional/trainee’ type staff again. Oh but we do need like ten different police checks from every country you may have set foot in for all of your life. And more papers. And copies of this and that and this and that. Also stupidity.

And then there is house hunting, trying to pack up all of my things into boxes and figuring out how I am going to move it, job hunting, especially when I can’t get my registration to work, fighting with Centrelink, frequent doctors appointments for health problems and that overwhelming feeling that you have not enough money and not enough time to get all of it done. A part of me just wants to kick back off to South America where I don’t have to give a shit about fifty million bits of paperwork and where everything seems to be just that little bit easier than it feels right now every time I open my eyes in the morning and think to myself ‘Fuck me, I have to deal with all of this shit again”.

Hopefully within a couple of weeks, some of these things will start getting sorted and then I can stop juggling fifteen balls at once. Then maybe I can have a friend over and we can share a meal on my cardboard box table of Uber Eats because I am too poor to equip my house. Until then, sorry to any person who has to deal with me and be in my company whilst receiving yet another email from somewhere telling me that they can’t help me and that I need to supply some other kind of paperwork. I promise that in a couple of months, I might be a bit better settled and less stressed.

Advertisements

Foods I Miss From Around The World

One of the biggest joys of travel for me is food. Oddly though when people ask me what foods I miss from home, I tell them none really. I don’t really miss any of it. Most of what constitutes “Australian foods” are candies, chocolate biscuits and all round unhealthy shit.

After time spent in Canada and the UK, I can safely say that a Tim Horton’s chilli is probably the only thing I miss from there. But despite my adversity to Western foods, there are specific foods from other parts of the world that blow my mind that I do occasionally get cravings for and that I cannot replicate and cannot get in the authentic manner where I am.

Fish and sweet potato puree from an amazing restaurant called La Sirena d’Juan, Mancora, Peru. My god….. foodgasm!

So one can imagine my excitement when I am walking around downtown Melbourne and in the market I find a stand that sells Burek, an Albanian pastry most commonly filled with ricotta and spinach or minced meat. I am well excited! And gözleme from Turkey! Momo’s from Nepal! Arepa de choclo from Colombia! And I am now well excited. I even managed to find an amazing woman who was so incredibly lovely selling pre-mixed packets of Indian spices to make things like Goan fish. Authentic Goan fish. Not the shitty, watered-down, westernised, jar sauce rubbish that tastes nothing like curry from actual India. I’m talking the ones that will blow your head off and still be considered “mild”. Real. Curry. Mmmmm…..

Menu del dia from the side of the road in Cali, Colombia…. approximate cost, 3 USD.

I miss my standard “menu del día” from Colombia with my fried plantains and chicharrón. I miss real Mexican Tacos made with maíz tortillas and not the shitty Old El Paso box crap with crunchy tortilla shells. Not once did I see those in Mexico. I miss a proper ceviche from Peru with those little toasted corn kernels of white corn on the side…. Any authentic empanada from anywhere South American. Venezuelan arepas. Pad Thai cooked in Thailand. Tom kha kai….

Traditional Peruvian causa with passionfruit juice.

Mussaman curry. Mango sticky rice. Actual Vietnamese Phó from Vietnam. Amok Curry from Cambodia. Egyptian falafel…. Ugh…. All of this is making me hungry as I write. Proper gelati from Italy and those little tortellini things that float around in the beef broth from Bologna. Norwegian brown cheese. All cakes and hot chocolate from the Republic of Cacao in Ecuador…..

The world’s best hot chocolate from the Republica de Cacao, Quito, Ecuador…. oh and the cake! This was dinner every single night for a week. Oops.

As is, half of my backpack coming home was filled with Ecuadorian Cacao paste and packets of Sancocho soup mix from Colombia. Throw in some David’s tea from Canada and an authentic Indian chai…. Ugh….. Take me back!

The most amazing Nicaraguan ice cream sandwich ever!

Anyway, the point is, I managed to find places in Melbourne that sell these things or ingredients to make these things authentically. And upon this discovery, I was the happiest I had been in a long time. Because if I can’t go to the food, at least the food can come to me and remind me of all of the good times I had with such foods. Venezuelan arepas dripping down my chin as I drunkenly smashed one down in the street. The pupusas I ate every day in El Salvador on the beach. The falafels I ordered on my own with my very limited Arabic on the side of the road in Egypt, despite arguments with my guide. The targines we ate every single day in Morocco with couscous and Morrocan BBQ in a dingy market. All the days I sat with locals, the only white person in the place munching down on Indonesian bakso or ayam Goreng.

Indonesian bakso…… mmmm…..

The food opens doors to my memories. It allows me to keep them alive through my taste buds and the connections they have to events. I expected to find some, but never this much here. And now that I have, I’m excited to get in the kitchen and cook. It is my own little time machine at home, when jumping on a plane cannot suffice. And for now, it will have to do.

What I Reckon: Couples in Dormitories

I have met some very cool couples travelling. Couples that are their own people that can interact with others and make friends and better yet, can for the most part, respectfully keep their hands off each other in public. I love these people. These people are great. What I don’t love are young, needy couples who think it’s ok to treat a shared dormitory with ten other people in it like their own private bedroom.

Last week I rolled into Cochabamba at 8pm and was ushered to a dorm room where I was shown to a bed one meter away from a completely STARK FUCKING NAKED couple that were fondling each other and whispering sweet nothings in each other’s ears while I am trying to awkwardly organise my stuff and go to bed. The most confrontational part was when I roll over and open my eyes to bear witness to one hairy male arse crack escaping from under the sheet cause ‘guess what mate?  Single beds and single bed sheets were made for one fucking person so either put some fucking clothes on or go to your own bed!’

Thinking that after a day I had escaped this, I moved on to the next city, but low and behold, two cities later, adjacent bed, same naked fucking couple. Do they get that in their own little world of neediness that they are making every other person around them uncomfortable? They also barely talk to anyone else. They don’t need to. They have each other… How adorable and completely unhealthy.

So they left, and even better, my mate and I walk into the room where we’re staying and two more couples who don’t know how to stop touching each other have moved on in. Great. As it is I write this in the darkness to the lovely musical intonation of people kissing each other. But you know, they put a sheet up so nobody can see and this apparently acts as a magical fucking sound barrier as well. And given the head of my bed and theirs line up, I don’t have a magical sound barrier. By the light of iPad, I can see and hear fucking everything. And you know what? I’m sick of it!

Some people call me a prude. Some call me unromantic because they are young people in love. The fact is, I don’t care if you’re young and can’t keep your hands off each other, just do it somewhere else. Get a private fucking room like all of the respectful couples I mentioned above do so they don’t annoy people or do what my ex and I used to do; kiss each other goodnight and go to our own fucking beds to sleep. I’m not so fucking needy that I need to cling to you in the middle of the night on a top bunk that’s narrow with no railings at the risk of falling out or sleeping like shit just so that I can show ‘I love you’. I already trashed my back and neck sleeping in a single bed with my boyfriend at 18 in a room on our own at uni. Why you’d want to do it in even a shitter dorm beds is beyond me.

But then I’m a loveless old hag with respect for the personal comfort of others and situational awareness. What the fuck would I know?