Saturday, March 29, 2008

Traveling Connections

As we move about in life, we come in contact with many different kinds of people. We're not islands, and if we choose to be, we're more like an archipelago, one spot of land amidst tons of others around us, some closer and easier to connect to, others requiring a few hops. I left the US a generally shy person (or, at least I thought of myself as one) and have hopefully grown past that in some ways.

In some ways, I guess I'm still the same.

Having now been in Australia for a bit, I move on to Adelaide, a sort of sleepy big town in South Australia. It reminds me of a large suburb, lots of houses and small shops, and a fair bit of driving to get you to the downtown city area. Not really that much to do, or maybe it just feels that way since I don't have a Lonely Planet Australia or took the time to look up places to go out and about.

Not that I really mind.

Most of the time has been spent lazing about at Sarah's place. I met Sarah at the tail end of my Europe trip while in Italy, one of the many people in the hostel in Cinque Terre back in early November. Since I was heading down to these neck of the woods, I'd figure I'd see if she was up for a visitor... and here I am, drinking one of her many loose leaf teas. Sarah is the only person I know of that loves tea more than I do. She has at least 50 different kinds of tea from all parts of the world (India, China, Taiwan, Japan, etc.). She has a couple of books on them. She knows how to take the time and effort to brew the tea correctly, lowering the water temperature just so and knowing how long to steep each cup.

Which means I get to reap the tea drinking benefits of all this knowledge. Sweet.

Most of the teas, however, are past their prime, relics of ages past which should have been put out to pasture long, long ago. Which is to say, they're expired. Some, unfortunately, for years. But, no matter, we brew it and drink anyway, steeping them in the hot water for extra time to draw out the flavor and body. All of the teas, even the expired ones, still have their oomph.

It's kind of interesting how the trip has changed and evolved as time has gone by. Years and years ago, when I originally wanted to see the world, I thought about taking a Contiki Tour. The packaged 500-cities-in-7-days kind of thing, limited time in each spot. I figured, hey I have no idea how to get myself around places, and I don't know the languages, I better pick the safest bet. Then the trip got less and less structured, until where it is now, more or less flexible and open at any moment, never a set schedule, until I buy tickets anyway. Even at the beginning of the trip, everything was set up and packaged, by myself, and things were planned as the days went on to maximize waking hours, spots seen, places visited. I got to see a lot walking the cities with my camera, bringing back with me gigabytes of photos.

Fast forward to today. Here I am in Adelaide, having seen nothing and really done nothing much, except for the drinking of gallons of tea and speaking at length about anything random that comes to mind as I sit here yabbering about nonsense with Sarah. And yet, I'm having the time of my life.

She asks questions. I answer. Vice versa. I learn about the silly ways Aussies abbreviate everything (don't forget to bring your sunnies as we head out to have brekky, later in the avo let's have a cuppa and sit by the telly), about the awesome camping/hitchhiking experiences Sarah's had all over Japan with her boyfriend Tomo and her crazy run in with those Eastern Europeans in Croatia when she was much younger. She learns about technical stuff, the internet, websites, computers, and me. Anything connected to the magic that is electricity. It's like she just graduated from a typewriter to the TV with words on it (thank you Homestar Runner. Sarah if you read this, don't kill me, haha).

I found it kind of weird to talk so much, so much that I started thinking about it. When the brain starts its gears, what happens? I get self conscious. Man, I am talking way too much.

Why can't I talk to everyone the same way? Why aren't I as open with other people? Am I really so interesting, or is Sarah just being nice, and doing everything in her power to stop her forehead from slamming into the teacup on the table? Just being relaxed, talking about whatever comes to mind, without being self-conscious of whether I'm boring the other person, it's something new to me. Until the brain starts kicking in overdrive.

I'm thought it might have to do with the both of us not having exact schedules to dive back into every day. Sarah is waiting on a police report to prove that she's not a pedo so she can work at the school. Boy, I'm painting a great picture of her on this interweb thing. Good thing she's so far away eh? Haha. Anyway, she doesn't have anything particular to run off to, and I'm on vacation, so I don't have any schedule to meet on my own. Maybe having this freedom from time makes a good environment for thought and banter, over a cuppa tea. Toss in some foccacia and maybe a bowl of pasta here and there. Makes a good avo or two.

It's like what I told Ryan... Seeing this or that, going to do photography. That's fun, and I get some great photos that I like, ones that I can share with everybody. But I'm realizing that it's the people that I've met so far that have made the trip really worth it. The hours of random conversation, connecting to others, learning about one another. Those eyes, not mine, that belong to the people who can tell me things about myself, things I should have realized ages ago.

That I'm not the lame person that I always think of myself to be.

I'll really miss being in Adelaide when I'm gone.

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