Journey’s end – the return home.
When the travelling days are over and it’s time to head for home it is with mixed emotions I board the plane back to Australia. Sick of living in cramped hostel rooms, fed up with eating chicken and rice, tired of dressing in crumpled worn out clothes I yearn for my own space, pink high heeled shoes and lunch with the girls.
Conversely, what I dread when getting on that flight is the search for a new house to live in (rents always rocket upwards whilst I’m away), getting the sad, tattered and old furniture out of storage and moving in, job searching and the cold weather as I always seem to arrive back in time for a Melbourne winter. Luckily for me I have some good friends who look after my car while I’m away and give me somewhere to live until I can find accommodation. Otherwise the hunt for a house and job would be a lot harder and probably take a lot longer to achieve.
This time around the weather has been a real shock. Melbourne is having a cold rainy snap, so not only is it bloody freezing, it’s extremely wet. Well it is for someone who has been used to 30 – 40 degrees for the past four months. When I first moved to Melbourne I expected heat and humidity – na ah. Melbourne is a city of 4 seasons – cold, sun, wind and rain can all assail you in one day. It is a climate ideally suited for people from the U.K. who understand this type of weather and know how to dress for it - i.e. layers. Except, we have packed for hot and steamy days thinking that the whole of Australia has a climate like Darwin.
I went out to the shops the other day and it was so cold that I lost feeling in several of my toes. One of my friends used to work in a shelter for the homeless. She was helping a ‘customer’ remove his socks which were super glued to his feet by dirt. As she peeled a sock off one of his toes dropped out onto the floor. This particular story haunts me and I try not to visit anywhere that has body numbing temperatures, not desperately rational but then again I’ve not lost any digits yet. Luckily I had some wool socks in my back pack (bought for cold nights in Peru and Bolivia). Unfortunately, I don’t have a warm spare pair so these haven’t been taken off for over a week now and desperately need a wash. Bet your glad I shared that with you! I’ve been shopping for days to find some 100% wool socks and can’t find them anywhere other than specialist shops at special prices. Here the UK comes into its own as there is no shortage of warm, reasonably priced waterproof clothing. The weather may be shit but at least you can protect yourself against it. For this reason I waited until I was visiting England to buy all my gear for my travels to South America. It was sale time as well so I saved a fortune.
More depressing than the cold on arrival back to reality is the search for a house to rent. Visiting properties that have viewing time frames of 10 – 30 minutes each, driving on car crammed roads to jam in as many houses as possible, filling in applications and competing with at least 20 other people – all in the mind numbing cold. Well at least if I get frost bite of the brain it can’t fall off – although there are some who would say I lost it a long time ago. When a roof over ones head has been secured there is the moving/utilities/phone/internet to organise, changing all your documentation to show the new address and finding out that your furniture doesn’t fit or that half the things in the house are not working.
I moved in four days ago and am without a light in the toilet (tried new bulbs before you suggest it) back garden or garden shed, have found a wind whistling hole in the window frame in my bedroom, the garden fence at the back of the property has decided to collapse and the kitchen mixer tap has not been fixed to the sink unit. So now I have to go and handcuff myself to the property agent as I’ve heard nothing since I put in the request for maintenance form 3.5 days ago.
Then there is the job seeking, needed to keep the mind active, pay the rent, buy clothes to keep warm and to save up to get the hell out of here again. I’m exhausted just thinking about it all. But that all needs to go on hold for the moment, my toes are getting cold and I need to go shopping.