Learning to Breathe: End of the Tour Down Under

I’ve learned so much on this trip I don’t even know how to begin writing down all my ponderings. I’m currently WWOOFing in Matamata and it’s been a really good way to wrap things up. Being out in the country with the fresh air, beautiful rolling hills, and manual labor has provided me with ample opportunity to mentally arrange the various stages in my adventure and realize what I miss, how I’ve grown, and things that I’d like to change.

I guess that’s as good a starting point as any.
What I’ve Missed:
  • Oddly enough, one of the first things I missed about being away was working with Gabe and our humorous exchanges. Extremely random, but true.
  • Another one of the first things I missed was noodling around on the guitar at band practice with Levi. Which is also something I wouldn’t have anticipated, because we haven’t played together in at least two years and haven’t had regular band practices in about five years.
  • I’ve missed Gunner often, usually at mealtimes because I often found myself cooking for myself. I realized I can’t wait to cook for him, as 1950s a stereotype as that may be.
  • Being here amongst a family on a farm has reminded me of my own childhood and how good I had it. I remember my dad telling me that often but of course it didn’t mean anything to me at the time.
  • I’ve missed Coxey and Greg. I’ll be happy to sit down with them and have a beer and play Smash Brothers, or play disc golf. There were a few times when I wished I could hang out with Gunner and his guy pals.
  • I’ve missed hanging out with Jessie and Allison, which again, there hasn’t been a whole lot of that in the last two years.
  • I’ve missed going to Kentucky with Gunner and hanging out with his family.
  • I’ve thought more than once about how I can’t wait to get back to New Orleans.
I guess you could say I’ve found myself missing a lot of how things were at different years in my life, and that could explain why I’ve been feeling so lonely in Nashville.
Things I’ve Learned
  • That there still are good people in the world and that alone is a reason to keep on traveling. On this trip, I couchsurfed 7 times, WWOOFed with one family, and have met numerous awesome people in hostels that I hope to meet again along the road.
  • For example — two nights ago I left my iPod in my hostel in Wellington and couldn’t find it. My other 5 roommates were asleep and I didn’t want to wake them as it was 7 in the morning. I told another girl about it in my room who was also leaving early, and I left my e-mail address with the front desk in the event that it should turn up. “Yeah, right,” the guy at the reception desk told me, hinting at the fact that someone had probably already pocketed it and I’d never see it again. But I had this strange calm about it all and I wasn’t at all worried or distraught. I was a bit aggravated as I had a 12 hour bus ride ahead of me without any music, but that was the extent of my stress. Sure enough, upon arriving in Matamata, I saw that I’d gotten an e-mail from the Wellington YHA. One of my roommates had found my iPod and had turned it in and they would be mailing it to me shortly. It arrived in the mail one day later!
  • On the bus ride up here to Matamata, I was attempting to clean my camera lens with a tissue, attempting methods that Brian Murie had taught me, but the tissue was useless, and I kept getting smears. Suddenly, a hand with a high-dollar lens cleaning cloth appeared from behind me. The guy behind me had noticed my struggles, as stupid as they were! haha. So yes. I am a believer that there are good people in the world.
  • This again is rather stupid, but I initially wanted to name my photo album for the trip something to the effect of “Cheers Captain Cook”, as a cheesy homage to the man who discovered the places I journeyed to. But as time has gone on, I’ve realized the struggles of the indigenous people in both Australia and New Zealand and how both countries have had a hard time finding a way to make retributions and integrate them into society. And I’ve realized how I disagree with the Europeans claiming all this land for themselves– including North America– and driving out or destroying the native populations. No, I don’t think we should all get on ships and go back to Europe, but I definitely can’t hold settlers to the same standard that I was taught to.
  • I’ve learned that honesty and straightforwardness is the way to go. Again, another no-brainer. But I detest making people uncomfortable or upset and will typically couch my words or my wishes in a way to either allow them to slip by the other person unnoticed, or to create as little dissension as possible. I learned this from my friends who didn’t speak English as a first language and were therefore what I’d consider brutally honest — but it wasn’t that they were rude — they just didn’t know the language well enough to “beat around the bush” or dress it up.
  • This is less heavy, but I’ve learnt a great deal of slang. Ha. Here is a small recap (and note: some expressions are used in both places, I categorized them based on where I first heard them used):
“Happy snaps” – photos, “Good on ya” – Good for you, “pissed” – drunk, “sunnies” -sunglasses,
New Zealand
“On the grog” – drinking, “gunner” – one who doesn’t follow through (hahaha),
“nipper” – young child, “he’s a hard case” – he’s a nut case
How I’ve Changed/How I’d Like to Change
Meh, this heading makes me sound a bit self-centered and I don’t like it. But it is very important anyway, so I can remember when my old life and my old ways start creeping up on me.
Ok. How I think I’ve changed:
  • I’ve developed a true laid-back approach and have really enjoyed accepting things and people as they are. I know it sounds stupid, but back home, I feel like I put up more of a barrier and was far more judgmental. And there’s no reason for that!
  • I’ve become more comfortable with who I am. That turning point happened when I was breathing in second-hand fumes from my hippie pals over in Wellington, but it stuck. (the revelation, that is, not the fumes.) Yes, I’m a Christian, and here’s why. I don’t have all the answers, but I know why I’m not an agnostic or an atheist. how about you? Why do you believe what you believe?
  • I need to get better at the passive income bit. Look into investing and perhaps the website thing (again).
  • Learn Spanish.
  • Learn to cook!!
  • I want to become a renaissance woman, for lack of a better term. I hate how life as we know it consists of working 9-5 and accumulate stuff as a way to show our success.
  • I don’t ever want to be afraid of the unknown again. Yes, doing research and recognizing the dangers is important (wouldn’t go to Bangkok or Greece right now due to the political unrest) and gathering opinions can help mold plans, but I will not let other people dictate what I do. I was scared to death of this trip due to the abundance of negative feedback I got. If I hadn’t already purchased the ticket, I’m not sure I would’ve come. I can count the number of people that initially reacted positively to my trip on one hand, the biggest supporters being Gunner and my cousins. The majority were nay-sayers — someone even told me I was going to get kidnapped and never be heard from again. I didn’t know of anyone who had done a trip solo like this except for Seth’s friend Rex — and not that I want a pat on the head, but it definitely made me feel like I was crazy for attempting this trip. But I’ve learned that other people from other countries do it. I met so many girls traveling solo, and I learned quickly that my 6 week trip was SO short in comparison to everyone else’s plans.
Meeting cool people in Sydney: Maria, Jim, Melissa, and Raquel
Rugby game in Sydney
Chilling out in Coolangatta
Surviving my stay in North Stradbroke with the island people.
Watching “SPICE WORLD” with a Dutch guy and a South African guy and have them both try to rattle off the majority of the Spice nicknames in their heavy accents. HAHA.
Seeing Switchfoot in Sydney! Too incredible.
Experiences that will make for good stories: Celebrating Anzac day with an Australian navy guy. Couchsurfing with communal living hippies in Wellington.
I’ll revise this post once in Auckland I’m sure!

Author: Laryssa

Laryssa has spent 6+ years working on an assortment of film and television projects. She writes about her experiences to help (and amuse) others. If she's not working, she's either traveling, reading or writing about travel, or planning travel. Follow , Twitter, or Facebook.

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  1. You better not revise it…I'm going to be mad if I have to read through the whole thing again to find the one sentence you've changed!

    Also it's a great post now.

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