25 February 2013

Maggie Island - Part Two

That little pack he's carrying, that's how he travels around the world... HOW?

Meet Gabe, backpacker extraordinaire
Right: Lorikeets come out like crazy during sunset.  Pretty amazing to see hundreds of these beautiful birds in a tree every day.

So the universe and I, we chatted and when we were done with our bottle, I headed back after dark for some actual dinner (pizza), where I met this gal in my dorm room who was a tad crazy and wanted to find some weed and go out belly dancing.  Hm, not exactly what I had in mind.  So any way, I somehow manage to escape her for a short period of time, at least to get out of the belly dancing, was hanging out in the outdoor bar area where saw this guy with some rather large books and notebooks in front him… like he was working.  Who studies while traveling?!  But he looks similar to Bradley Cooper underneath his beard and has a very independent and free spirit – us free spirits can usually sniff each other out.  At some point, crazy and her friends were done with belly dancing where they recruited this guy to have a beer and listen to some music with them, then eventually spotted me and reeled me in.  Luckily we all start to talk about our various travels and what prompted it all (typical conversation amongst long-term travelers) and I come to find that this guy, Gabe, has some really interesting ways and reasons for his traveling.  At the hostel, he’s actually camping and he hitchhikes his way around Australia doing things on the super cheap – a real backpacker, not like the rest of us flashpackers.  He doesn’t even have a Facebook account!  Can you imagine?!  Gabe works this company where they take a small group of people into the wilderness and are out there for up to three weeks where they learn survival skills right off the bat, and it’s not the posh version of it all – it all gets rather hard-core immediately.  Essentially they go into survival mode during this vision quest and the participants keep a daily journal of how they feel, document what they did, and such.  Apparently, when you go into survival mode, your brain actually starts to operate differently and more clearly, so this becomes a spiritual journey in connecting with nature and yourself.  I gotta admit, it sounds amazing and challenging.  Transcending the mindset of the daily grind to obtain a higher consciousness of the real world around you free of ego.  Pretty awesome stuff.  I really think I should do this trek one day…  

So that night, we hang out and watch the wallabies and possums come into the campground looking for food in the grass.  I never imagined in my life that would be sitting at night watching wallabies.  It’s just not a reality for an American.  And those possums, they really are much cuter than American possums.  There was this one point in the night where there was a standoff between a possum, one of the big, local crazy looking birds, and the humans where we’re all eyeballing each other to see if any of us are going for this one bit of food on the ground.  These are the moments that make me laugh at where I am in life and in this world.

Any way, Gabe and I decide to go hiking around the island the next day so we head out in the morning after some breakfast, and one of the first places we come across is what seemed to be a clothing optional beach.  Huh.  This is not what I had expected.  But we decide to hang there any way; it was a very secluded beach with very few people there all quite dispersed over the beach, plus it was a hot day, we were already sweating a great deal so we stayed for a swim… and yes, exercised the clothing option.  Frankly, that was the first time I ever decided to go nude on a beach in broad daylight and in public, and I have to say, it was pretty liberating though I wouldn’t exercise optional clothing that often.  We’re there for about an hour sunning ourselves and swimming, all my girl bits getting a lot more sun than they use to seeing (which is none at all) and whoa!  It feels kinda good on all those bits – luckily for me I didn’t not get burnt there!  That would suck.

So we continue on with our hiking always being on the look out for koalas too because we heard that they live there in the wild.  Unfortunately, we never saw any.  We end up at another beach (clothing required), and needed to eat lunch where we decide to do something different, we ate up in a tree.  We found a nice perch with views of the ocean, got comfortable and ate lunch.  It was kinda fun!

After lunch, we continue to head to this area where there are a bunch of different look outs that the military had there for the war which is now unfortunately a but crumbly in parts but we went up in the different looks, saw some of the old cannon/big gun things, and just had a grand old time exploring the ruins. 

The following day, we both had to leave but first, I went to a koala sanctuary where they also cared for other creatures of Australia.  First up, a baby croc!  I got to hold one!  Yes, it’s mouth was tied close.  After that, I got to hold a macaw that are often seen wild throughout Australia and those are some pretty beautiful birds!  I took a chance where we were told we could feed the macaw by holding a sunflower seed between our lips – so I did.  It picked the sunflower seed from my mouth while not taking off half of my face.   Yay!!  Then I got to hold a boa constrictor, which was pretty big for me.  I am TERRIFIED of snakes, even the not dangerous ones.  Even dead ones!  I am scared of dead snakes, you read that right.  So I finally have my opportunity to hold this snake and it wasn’t so bad.  Don’t get me wrong, I was still jumping out of my skin but maintained.  I figured doing something like this was helping my snake karma and to make peace with them.  I leave them alone and they leave me alone.  No harm, no foul, right?  Then finally, I got to hold a koala!!  My childhood dream come true!!  Yeah, yeah, I know they look all cute and cuddly but are actually crazy, savage creatures who want to be left alone, but here, I got a nice sleepy one that was relatively tame.  Thing is, I couldn’t hold it and stroke it’s fur at the same time.  For holding it, I had to pretend that I was a tree, holding one position while I had my picture taken.  And then to pet it, I had to wait until the trainer was holding it.  Not exactly a super soft creature, but dry and fluffy is more like it.  I also got to hold a bunch of different lizards including one that resembled something like having pinecone skin.  Pretty cool.

Now on the pictures of the trainer, you’ll notice two scratches on her face.  Those come from the beauty that she’s holding which apparently scratched her the day before.  It’s one of those kinds that has that big fan thing around its neck that opens up when provoked and such.  Kinda scary looking to me.  Definitely not ever going to hold one of those.  I did hold the one lizard that's on the right though, the one that looks like a lizard mated with a pinecone and a rock, yeah, that one.

Soon after, it was time to take off for the ferry where I met up with Gabe and we headed to the bus to first go see about feeding rock wallabies.  We find out where and head out there during sunset with food in hand and those are some super cute, little things!  They’re like tiny kangaroos but they live in the big boulders there, thus rock wallabies.  We take out our food and have small handfuls to give them, at first throwing it in front of us until we realized we could feed them from our hands.  Super cute and harmless little things who are a tad skittish around humans.  After that, off to our ferry and back to the mainland where we parted ways, him hitchhiking and I stayed in town to head south. 

It’s people like Gabe that make traveling worth it all.  Under normal circumstances I likely would never have met him and I’m so glad that I did.  He is one of the truly unique characters in the world that is making his own way in the world and has such a different perception of the world and nature.  I'd love for him to meet some friends of mine that are on similar wavelengths and to just be a fly on the wall to listen to all the things they discuss!  Perhaps one day...  the universe does have a funny way of working.  That I truly believe.

Here’s one of the companies that Gabe works for… riteofpassagejourneys.org


At February 26, 2013 at 12:09 AM , Blogger Matt McDonald said...

Some really amazing pics April! Keep on keeping on!

At March 1, 2013 at 1:58 PM , Blogger April said...

Thanks Matt! I really appreciate it! :)


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