Saturday, August 20, 2011

Trading Outback scene for beach life (and I can't wait!)

From embracing Aussie billiards rules to learning Queensland bar etiquette, my time in Charleville has been a great cultural experience.

With two weeks left in this small Outback town, I am ready to move on and see other parts of Australia but I'll remember our time here fondly.

Charleville is the kind of place where people leave their money sitting on the bar and trust bar staff to take it and make the correct change.

The motto here seems to be, "why do today what you can do next year."

Charleville Taxis can take you anywhere in town for $10.

Here, if someone has a milestone birthday such as an 18th, 21st or 40th, basically everyone in town is invited.

If you ask around in Charleville, you can find someone making the trek to Roma or Brisbane and ask them to bring you back a Big Mac or bucket of chicken from KFC.

In fact, today Jen and I enjoyed a KFC snack courtesy of a co-worker who went to Brisbane this week. Now that we've been reminded of how much we like it, we are planning a fast food feast when we return to the city!

Although Charleville attracts a great deal of tourists, the town is still "sleepy" by most standards.

An Outback sunset is like no other and the pace of life out here is just slow enough to stop and enjoy it at the end of the day.

But, a slow pace can also drive you crazy!

So, we are catching the train for the long ride back to Brisbane on September 7. From there, we'll head up the east coast stopping in places such as Hervey Bay, Fraser Island and Airlie Beach.

We have big plans for exploring the Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsunday Islands and the Daintree Rainforest so stay tuned!

Sent from my iPod

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Filling the void of what I miss from home

Two months of our trip have passed and I can report I do not have homesickness.

Of course, however, there are things and people from home that I miss.

Near the top of the list of things that I miss: Mexican food.

Not Taco Bell but real Mexican food!

Hispanic influence in most parts of Australia appears to be absent. Asian-fusion and Greek cuisine can easily be found here but I really miss enchiladas, chimichangas and fresh salsa.

There are two technological-guilty-pleasures I miss regularly as well. One: dependable and convenient wireless Internet. And two: a cell phone plan with unlimited texting and calling.

I say "guilty pleasures" because part of this year-long journey's purpose was to unplug from the everyday riff-raff and to rejuvenate myself. The constant connectedness of Facebook, e-mail and texting can sometimes get interrupt to rejuvenation and relaxation.

But, when trying to keep in touch with family and friends, it's frustrating to not have Internet at your fingertips.

And, constantly having to add credit to a pre-paid phone here can be costly and annoying.

Lastly, the nerdy journalist in me misses American media.

Although the world is flat and news can be at our fingertips no matter where we are, keeping up with trends and news at home requires actual effort while traveling.

When I'm at home, I can play the TV in the background or chat with friends to catch up on current events at home. Australian media outlets cover world events but, fittingly, the bulk of coverage focuses on Aussie news.

To really keep up with news from home requires carving out time to visit American news media websites--which is easier said than done (see above reference to Internet).

That being said, I've found things here to fill the void of what I miss from home.

Although completely different than Mexican food, Outback cuisine holds a special place in my heart.

Meat and veggies everyday--great for my taste-buds, not great for my waistline! Gravy comes on everything here! And let's not forget the occasional beer for dessert. :)

And, consuming Aussie news is a great way to gain an outside perspective on U.S. issues. Plus, the Australian media's take on objectivity is a bit different than the traditional idea of journalistic objectivity in America. Perhaps that will be another blog post for another day, though...