Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Thoughts On The Fear Of Losing It All Over Again

I have occasionally joked that I am not afraid of anything except spiders. As you can imagine this isn’t exactly true, for one thing I detest cockroaches and other flying bugs. I have been called brave because I indulge my passion for travel and new places but there is a price to pay for this. The price is fear. I love my life. I currently live in a beautiful place, have a good job with decent people and even have a few friends at the hostel. Life is good, very good and this terrifies me. Whilst I like my job and believe that I am rather good at it I have been worrying that others do not think so and that I shall not be able to keep it as we move in to the off season and the other day I realised why. It’s nothing that’s been said or done by my bosses or co-workers it’s my past. I had a good life once, in fact a great life. I was happy and thought I had it all sussed then one day without warning it was gone. I realised now that subconsciously I have been waiting for this to happen all over again. I’ve been waiting for my new life to be taken away from me too.

It’s so obvious when I think about it and I can see how it has coloured my behaviour. I have survived having my life shattered once and I believe if it happens again I would survive that too but of course I don’t want to. However losing this job wouldn’t be life shattering, just a little disappointing. I have to believe in myself. I have to believe that if it doesn’t work here then I shall pick myself up and move on like I have done many times before. Hopefully it won’t come to that though.

Seeing my behaviour for what it is means I am able to change it. At work I am being more proactive about learning more skills and showing how flexible I can be. I am pushing myself forward and commenting when I think I’ve done a good job instead of pointing out my mistakes. I’m working at being the best me I can and even if after all that there aren’t enough hours then I shall move on. I have learnt a lot over the last couple of months in Broome. My restaurant and bar skills have improved and expanded and now I feel I have taken yet another step in accepting and embracing my new life.  Like every place I have visited before Broome has changed me and this time I feel those changes are for the better. Having said that I really hope my time here isn’t over yet.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Last of the Tours

After six weeks in Broome I had accomplished most of the tourist ‘must dos’ but there were one or two left for me to do. For the first I had to request and was given the first two days of the month off in October. This was so I could see the Staircase to the Moon. I spoke to various people and established that the best place to see this phenomenon would be at a local hotel. Their bar area overlooks Roebuck Bay and I heard they put on a good show. Now the Staircase happens when the moor rises over the bay when the tide is out. The reflection off the mud flats as the moon rises looks like a staircase, especially as the moon is just above the horizon. Since this is a natural phenomenon I wasn’t sure how it could be made into a show. I soon discovered it was more than that they provided comfortable surroundings whilst we waited.

The moon was due to rise at 6:48pm but I was warned to arrive at the bar before 5pm. I duly arrived and was able to secure a seat at the last table by the railings over looking the bay giving me a prime view which made my early arrival worth the while. I shared my table with an English couple and an older Canadian gentleman who I struck up one of those temporary friendships with. His opening conversational gambit was a comment on my Dr status. How did he know that? Not realising I had to be there so early I had arranged a phone call with a friend in the UK and became one of those rude people who has a full on in depth dissection of life conversation on the phone in public. I did redeem myself by apologising and since the others were also foreigners I was forgiven due to extenuated natural-phenomenon-deadling-time-difference circumstances.

The In the two hours we waited for the staircase the bar provided decent service and some nice tapas and music to keep us entertained as we waited. As the moon was due to rise the lights dimmed and the music became a bit mystical. Sadly cloud cover meant we missed the moon rise but as it cleared the horizon the cloud cleared and though not the most staircasey reflection it was still very pretty. Once the moon had risen the view really improved and the Canadian and myself decided it made for a much better photography practice. Yes I found yet another photography enthusiast. We not only exercised our cameras together he also showed me some of his previous photography efforts which included his maple syrup making operation back home. I kid you not I met an actual real life bona fide Canadian maple syrup producer though sadly he didn't have any samples on him, just his business card.

The next day I was supposed to skype with a friend but between us we missed each other yet again so my day really started when I got on the bus to Willie Creek Pearl Farm. Willie Creek is another institution and one of those ‘must do’s’. It’s not a working pearl farm but rather a show case for the industry. Our guide on the way there was informative and thought he repeated some of the stories I had heard from my tour the previous week the stories related to the pearling industry were mostly new to me. On arriving at the ‘farm’ I was delighted to discover our guide was none other than a girl I work with. She is always lovely and enthusiastic at work and was even more so as she guided us through the processes used to cultur3 and harvest pearls from the oysters. We had a quick break for lunch before getting on a boat and going on a quick tour through the mangroves where our new guide Jock showed us how the oysters are taken care of whilst they are creating the pearls.

Post boat cruise and it was on to the show room for some show and tell where my co-worker/tour guide told us how pearls are graded and allowed us to try some very expensive strings of pearls on. They left us to look around and since I wasn’t going to buy any pearls I bought some carrot cake instead. Though the tour was interesting and fun I did think they left us a little too long at the end though maybe our bus driver just got caught up in his book as I am sure I spotted an other employee going to find him once we were all gathered hopefully around the bus. Our drive home was a lot quieter with our driver only speaking to suggest one or two touristy things to do, including a visit to my own work. I had no idea when I started there that I was working in one of Broome’s top tourist spots but everywhere I go people go “oh you work there and get very excited. Once back at the hostel I had a quick skype home before heading back out to attempt to see the staircase for the second time. Sadly this time I slightly misjudged it. I had planned on going to a different location this time where I was told the view wouldn’t be as good but there would be less people. I think this would have been great if I hadn’t gotten the time of the moon rise wrong. I got there just in time to see the moon and it’s distant reflection on the water as it had risen 10 minutes previously. I was a bit annoyed at myself but not exceedingly bothered as I had seen it the evening before and the sky wasn’t much clearer. I am hopeful that as I pass through Broome next year I will get a chance to see it at its best and maybe get a decent photo having practised this time round.

My two days off were followed by five days working before I my one day off for that week. We were short staffed as a couple of people left unexpectedly but I was glad of the hours. We keep being told how the hours will decrease as the build up to the Wet continues so I was glad to get as many hours as I could to shore up my savings. My one day off though was fabulous.

I went on my last tour of the season and the last on my list of ‘must do’s’. I was up at 6am and on the bus to Cape Leveque by 7am and asleep by 7:05am I think. Comments were made about the bumpy road and my poor chances of staying that way but once more I proved them wrong and provided yet more amusement for my fellow passengers by managing to sleep over hours of bumpy road. As is usual on these things we stopped for morning tea and I started to wake up and become a little more sociable. Our stop was at an aboriginal community church in Beagle Bay which had the most amazing mother of pearl alter and it’s very own beagle. From there we moved on the Cygnet Bay which was another beautiful bay with white sandy beaches and inviting turquoise waters. The reason for stopping there was to visit the working pearl farm which was the first to be fully owned and operated by an Australian. He s stated it with his sons in the 70’s and they now make world renown pearls including the world’s largest ever pearl which is showcased in there store in town, so sadly we didn’t get to see that. We were given a more thorough explanation of the different kinds of pearls and how they are graded as our guide brought out a box of individual pearls and passed them round us explaining why one was seen as more or less valuable that the last. They also provided us with an extremely tasty lunch which did include an amazingly delicious chocolate cake which a fellow guest and I bonded over. 

After lunch I thought we would head straight to Cape Leveque but before we got there we stopped at One Arm Point where we met quite a character at a local aquaculture hatchery who introduced us to his fish and turtles before trying to sell us some really interesting jewellery made from local polished shells. I would have bought some earrings but cunningly went without my purse and so saved myself some money though really I would rather not have as the earrings were so different and pretty. Finally we arrived at Cape Leveque and I was able to swim in the ocean for the first time since I arrived in Australia. The water was the perfect temperature and there was more chatting than swimming in the end making it a very relaxing end to had been a pretty relaxed day all round. 

Back on the bus for once I didn’t sleep but instead read a book on my iTouch until we were almost back in Broome and my phone signal returned. I had a few missed calls and messages one of which was sadly bad news. My grandfather in law had passed away earlier that day whilst I had been out of range. As soon as I returned to the hostel I phoned my mother in law to offer her my condolences on her loss but sadly as I am well aware there was nothing I could do or say that would make her feel any better. I waited until the next day to speak to her daughter who was understandably upset and confused about whether to go home or not. In the end she decided to go home but I of course opted to stay knowing that really there was nothing I could do. Of course I was sad to miss the funeral of such a lovely man and be unable to say good bye but I did so in my own way with a wee dram of malt whiskey which I hope he would have approved of.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Life Goes On

My two day gorge tour was a fabulous time out but on my return to work I was more aware than ever of the impending ‘anniversary’. I was only back at work for two days before I was off again but they were hard days. On the Saturday I made so many mistakes the head chef asked if I was ok. I answered no but that there was nothing anyone could do and said I’d try to be more careful. Despite my mistakes I am proud to say that the customers were all forgiving in the face of my sincere apologies and most left with a smile on their face. I don’t think one of them could have guessed that my heart was breaking all over again. The next day I did better work wise and before I left I finally managed to tell my manger why I was struggling and apologised for my recent touchiness and request that he pass my apologies on to the other staff. The ‘the Day’ arrived. On Monday the 17th of September I went whale watching. My sunset cruise had been moved to the morning which wasn’t ideal as I am not a morning person but in the end I think it worked out well. Instead of having a packed day I moved my pamper session to the Friday which allowed me time to skype with friends and family. The cruise was fun and though I started the day in a sullen mood it had lifted by the time we were heading back. The mother and calf whale were fun to watch though I regret not spending more time just watching them instead of hiding behind my camera trying to get a good shot I did get enough glimpses to make the trip worthwile.

Back at work the next day and it was obvious that the news had trickled down the work grapevine. Sadly though I wish I didn’t still need it having everyone being a little more careful with me really helped. If there was ever a doubt in my mind that the folks I worked with weren’t good people then this day would have erased it. Since then I have been back to my more ‘normal’ self which means that I am easier to deal with though of course I will never be completely easygoing, I’m just too interestingly complicated for that. My day was also improved by my lunch ‘date’. One of my new friends from the gorge tour was back in town after doing a three day tour up to Cape Leveque with the same company that took us to the gorges. It was lovely to spend a couple of ours chatting with someone who was on the same wavelength as me and it was by far the best split shift break to date. I really hadn’t expected to make friend on a two day tour but two of the other girls had been in a couple of time over the weekend and we swapped details so we could stay in touch and I even managed to catch a quick lunch with them before one of my shifts. I am sure my co-workers have never seen me so sociable. It’s a shame none of my new friends were hanging about still I look forward to keeping in touch and seeing them at a later date when I make it to their side of the country.

I was fortunate enough to get another day off and after three days work I had my re-scheduled papmer morning. I got a manicure, pedicure and my eyebrows tinted and waxed and I loved every minute of it. I then treated myself to lunch at a nearby cafe before heading back to the hostel to send my brothers fiancée her birthday present in the form of an e-mail voucher. Of course turning on the laptop is always dangerous so my intention of having an afternoon swim became an evening swim but the water was lovely and warm and it was relaxing to swim as the day turned to night.

I was really glad of my relaxing day as it was followed by a pretty full on working week as I managed to pick up a few more hours due to some staff leaving. Having reviewed my working hours and week it’s no surprise that by Thursday I was flagging. On my last day I had to give and an order a steak sandwich as I felt my body need both calories and red meat. Though I love living the veggie lifestyle occasionally my body craves red meat and I am always happy to oblige it, though next time I may splash out for an actual steak as the ones my work serve look and smell fantastic and the customers certainly love them. One if these days I really am going to have to eat somewhere other than my work but it’s hard when I get a substantial discount on such amazing food. Still I think on my days off I might try and branch out a little. Of course it would be easier if I made friends but I just don’t seem to have the energy. I miss my friends but I can’t seem to work up the enthusiasm or effort to make new ones. I’ve started chatting to a few folk round the hostel and for now that’s about as much of a social life as I can manage. I think I shall try to make more of an effort and see what kind of people I’ve been living with for the last month or so. After all meeting people is one of the joys of hostel living so I really should branch out from the ones who happen to be sharing my room.

After my hectic week I had another mixed day off. The morning started fairly early with a 9am pick up for a kayaking tour of Roebuck Bay. We didn’t let the fact we failed to spot any turtles  ruin our morning, there were jokes about them popping up behind us and swimming underneath us doing their own tour and we did spot a few rays and of course birds. The kayaking was really good fun. I ended up paired with one of the guides and she was really friendly chatting with not just me but the other folks as well as we passed their kayaks. I think I got the hang of paddling but since I was with an experienced person I’m not sure how well I really picked it up. I do know it’s something I want to do a lot more of and suspect that Queensland and Tasmania will be explored a little differently than I originally thought. The bay tour was three hours so we stopped for the obligatory morning tea. This tour managed to be different once more. As well as the usual chit chat we were treated to our very own crab race. One of the other guests kindly gave me one of his crabs and though I didn’t win I think my wee crab conducted himself very well considering how much smaller he was than everyone elses. After crab racing and refreshments it was back in the kayaks, we did do a little drifting on the way home on the hopes of glimpsing a turtle but it wasn’t to be and we were soon back on dry land and on our way home.

Back at the hostel I had time for a shower and quick lunch before heading back out this time to Cable Beach. For once I didn’t walk but took the bus as I wanted to arrive in plenty of time for my camel ride. I had planned on getting the free bus but once more made the mistake of turning on the internet and missed it. There was a paid town bus half an hour later but it meant that I arrived with only twenty minutes to spare which being me I managed to spend taking photos as I walked to the meeting point leaving the postcards in my bag still unwritten. The camel ride was fun and though I was disappointed that the owner of the business was absent due to injury the other guides were knowledgeable and friendly. I learned a little about camels as well as enjoying the scenery from a different vantage point with the added experience of changing my camera battery whilst on a camel, not as hard as it sounds but not something I’d like to repeat either.

I had booked the pre-sunset camel ride on the recommendation of one of my passing through roomies and as this session was substantially cheaper I treated myself to one of their professional photos. The guides took photos of us as we went but this meant that I was sure to have at least on decent photo so show the folks back home and I made sure Zack was in at too as he remains my faithful and constant cowpanion, my one constant in my ever changing world! The main reason for booking the earlier ride was so I could photograph the sunset from the beach afterwards. I am glad I listened to this advice as taking photos from a camel is fun but leads to interesting results. I don’t think I have ever just sat and watched the sun go down before. I had a great time exploring my camera and learning how to use it on manual mode. I took hundreds of photos of the sun as it lowered in the sky and even ventured down to the shore where I got some really cool reflection shots. Of course as the sun went down the tide started to come in so I found myself moving back, taking more photos then having to move again as the tide caught up with me. It was fun and whilst I was a little worried I would miss the sunset during one of my retreats I eventually found a rock far enough back so I could watch the final moments of the sun setting in glorious peace. Really it was the perfect end to a really good day out in Broome and one hell of a way to spend my day off work.

On my return to the hostel I arrived just in time for the weekly barbecue and $5 later I had dinner without the hassle of making a decision, cooking or cleaning – bargain. The next day I had a fairly early start so I spent the rest of the evening chilling in the hostel in my favourite corner and oh yeah, writing this blog proving that whilst I still have my moments of grief life really does go on.