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Reports

Saturday, 30 March 2002
--> Mermaid Beach, Gold Coast, Australia

I have invites in Alice Springs and Darwin, but it will be a three-days-odyssey of hitchhiking without the possibility of staying at somebodyís place at night. This is no problem for me, but I canít expect a truck driver to help me out with food as I travel without any budget. Hopefully I can find myself a sponsored way of transport into the Australian sandpit, otherwise I might never make it there.


Wooha! Another day in something I can call, to some extent, paradise. After last nightís wine consumption, I just had to call on to my next hostess and ask her if it would be okay if Iíd extent with another day on Mermaid. And it wasÖ

From 9am Liz and Emma were already very busy in the living, laptops open and discussing their study assignment. Later in the morning even another bunch of students came in to work things out. How serious!

Around lunchtime Alan took me out to see Surfers Paradise, as the town up north is called, and not for no reason. Surfers Paradise, well named for its splendid beach, sits on a neck of sandy ground between the Nerang river and the sea. The commercial strip and row of high-rise towers form the heart of what is known as the Gold Coast. Surfers was once known as Elston, a small holiday settlement, the resort took its present name in 1933.

Alan drove me through the rich peopleís houses along the beach boulevard and then into Surfers which is indeed that big collection of letís-built-high-and-small.

It all kind of reminded me of the eastcoast of Spain, but on the Costa Brava there is ONLY tourism and high rise hotels, no permanent residents next to some not-that-rich Spanish people. Outside the summer season the place is a ghost town.

But Surfers was alive. And however it sometimes looked very, very commercial (KFC, Mac, Burger King everywhere), it had a very positive atmosphere. People looked happy and most people came from the busy beach and probably had a good swim either.

Back home on Mermaid Beach, it was already 5.30pm in the afternoon and I was the only one that seemed to see the beautiful rainbow up the Pacific.

Of course this was a situation where I had to go for a swim in the ocean as well! So I went for a dive, enjoyed the big surferís waves and also saw some bad weather coming this way in the sky.

Tonight Alan and I were invited to come along with Liz as she would have dinner at her parents place. And Lizí parents live a few block away down the beachfront. You can imagine us to go for a good walk, but had to make a run when the rain started to pour down on us.

I was introduced to Bob and Vicky Grady, Lizí parents, who were overjoyed to meet me and be able to get to know me a bit better. Vicky was the one who read about me in the Courier Mail to begin with and got Liz interested to invite me over.

Next to Lizí parents I also met up with another couple of friends of the Gradyís and their two daughters. I enjoyed the pork dinner and had to taste different Australian cheeses and some top wines.

It is always interesting to talk to a variety of people, as they all can tell me a bit about Australia. And some people even have their connections. Bob gave me a list of names of important people in big business that might be able to help me out to get to the outback a little bit more.

I have invites in Alice Springs and Darwin, but it will be a three-days-odyssey of hitchhiking without the possibility of staying at somebodyís place at night. This is no problem for me, but I canít expect a truck driver to help me out with food as I travel without any budget. Hopefully I can find myself a sponsored way of transport into the Australian sandpit, otherwise I might never make it there.

I had enjoyed the dinner and the talks outside on the balcony and was inspired by the conversations that Bob had with his daughter about her study and the future. He was really helping her out in any possible way. I must say, I donít see this very often.

When it had cleared up, Alan, Liz and I walked back to their beach house again, also tonight supported by the moonlight. Alan and Liz went for another bottle of wine, but I kindly rejected that and went to bed pretty early.

Tomorrow Iíll go again, some 60km up north, near another Big City.

Good night Mermaid Beach,

Ramon.