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During my travels newspaper columns were published weekly in the Dutch daily newspaper
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Reports

Sunday, 31 March 2002
Mermaid Beach --> Cornubia, Logan City, Australia

Irene and Stephen have met each other on ICQ where they just started chatting with each other, ending up in a very costly relationship of flying up and down from the Netherlands and Australia for both of them.

Irene decided to move down to Australia as life is always better than in The Netherlands. “People all rush their lives together,” explains Irene, “and here it’s not necessary to do so.”

It was good to stay two nights on Mermaid Beach and just enjoy the view on the Pacific Ocean from the living room. Clearly because I don’t get to see something like that very often.

I said goodbye to my hostess Liz Grady and her housemate Alan offered to bring me halfway my route up north and drop me on the Pacific Highway.

The weather was a bit gloomy, with swift showers now and then, but it wouldn’t take me off hitchhiking or anything. If necessary I’ll just have to dig up that so-far-never-used raincoat on the bottom of my backpack.

Alan dropped me off at the entrance of an American burger restaurant, where I got myself a free meal. How? Well, since today I have this handwritten letter by an owner/operator of a restaurant of this chain, telling his colleagues about my project and asking them to help me out whenever I please some food or drink. I showed this letter to the manager (when I asked who the manager was, everybody raised their hands, typically…) and the lady said (very dull): “Okay,” and arranged me a medium big mac meal…

Now, with this letter in the pocket it seems very obvious that I’ll spent a lot of time eating out at these fast food restaurants, but believe me, if it is not really necessary (I’ve been hungry too!), I don’t want to miss-use it. And it’s not a free publicity thing either, I say, because it’s just one owner who would be grateful if his other colleagues would extend me some courtesies.

After this lunch break I walked back to the highway, walking with my sign with a request for a lift towards Brisbane. It had no use to walk, so I just waited on an onramp and waved for traffic to pass by. Hitchhiking is illegal in Queensland, but people don’t seem to be bothered by it. A friendly man and his dog stopped on the refugee lane and let me jump in the back and dropped me off at the Hyperdome mall in Cleveland, a suburb of Logan, just less than an hour later.

It was the Dutch Irene Karman who collected me here and took me along to her home in Cornubia, where I met her Australian fiancé Stephen Edwards. Fiancé since yesterday, however I really had ruined Stephens plans for ‘the proposal’.

When Irene invited me over somewhere last year, she only told Stephen about my arrival a few days ago. And I was supposed to visit yesterday, but I rescheduled my stay with another day in Mermaid Beach, which was okay with Irene. What Irene didn’t know was that Stephen had something special in mind for the day that I was supposed to come, yesterday.

With Irene’s two parents visiting for a month, he had arranged a helicopter flight over this area and the plan was to propose to Irene in mid-air. But there I was.

And there I cancelled on yesterday also. Oops!

But anyway, Stephen did propose a marriage with Irene yesterday and used his own arms to pretend to be a helicopter. She happily accepted this unexpected bid and Stephen put a big diamond ring around her finger.

I was very surprised on how Irene knew about most of my experiences, it almost looked to me that she had read every report on this website. She has also been one of those people who have been helping me out with my English. As you might remember, my English was pretty toe-aching in the beginning, with me writing about an “eye constipation” when I was in Ireland, or “people treating me with a hamburger”, or “the waiters looked up from it” or just lately: “having curry on the table”, which sounded naughty to some readers, haha.

With her Dutch background Irene knows what I am trying to tell, but non-Dutch might not have a clue what I write about or just have an enjoying laugh. It’s all okay with me. Irene should become my editor as soon as a publication of the book comes near.

To get to see a bit of the neighbourhood here, Irene took me around in her car and drove through Logan city and the southern suburbs of Brisbane city. Logan used to be one of the (it seems 40) southern suburbs of Brisbane, but because of its increasing population it got city-rights and now has its own suburbs again. Cornubia is one of them. But don’t be surprised if you don’t see Cornubia or Logan on a country map…

With our eyes on the every-minute-changing weather conditions Irene decided to take a walk to see the Slaughter Falls near Mount Coot-Tha, west of the Brisbane city centre. We did walk through the green rainforest and saw all those families out there near their barbeques on their Easter days-off.

But we never saw the Slaughter Falls as we thought it was some kind of a waterfall. When we walked for a long while we decided that we had found the waterfall in the shape of a water tap we could turn on and off. Satisfied by our own discovery we return back to the car, discovering that basically this whole area is called the Slaughter Falls, and during the summer the would be a massive stream of water coming down the now so peaceful creeks. Dumb Dutch…

We later drove up the Coot-Tha Mountain where I was offered a great panoramic view on the Brisbane centre with its skyscrapers and the spread out suburbs surrounding it. After a coffee in the panoramic restaurant we got down again and Irene drove me through Brisbane before heading back south to her Cornubia again.

I’ll stay a few days in Brisbane as I have received lots of invites from people in this area as the morning crew of Brisbane’s 4BC radio station supported me with some publicity long before I departed to Australia. And with what I have seen of Brisbane until now I was very satisfied. It’s a city with its colonial history mingled with the current modern architecture of high-rise and I always prefer this over-mirrored cloud-touching buildings only.

Back home I had a little nap and later joined the Irene and Stephen and Irene’s parents in the dining table.

As Irene is in Australia on a tourist visa and not allowed to work here, Stephen is the employed man of the house, as he seems to be in the transport and appliance and distribution of chemicals, like for factories and hospitals and all that.

Irene and Stephen have met each other on ICQ where they just started chatting with each other, ending up in a very costly relationship of flying up and down from the Netherlands and Australia for both of them.

Irene decided to move down to Australia as life is always better than in The Netherlands. “People all rush their lives together,” explains Irene, “and here it’s not necessary to do so.”

“Here I can just be myself and if people can’t go along with each other, you’ll tell each other that and live on. In The Netherlands people like to make elephants of mosquitos and go on and on about it. The Dutch love to talk and talk.”

I support Irene with that thought, but I do also think that our talk-talk-talk-policy have avoided a lot of problems that can start when you don’t talk about it.

Dinner, silverside, with veggies and potatoes, ended with us all drinking wine at the table and talking about the latest things happening in the Netherlands, as Irene’s parents had arrived in Australia just a few days ago.

In The Netherlands a single, bald and gay Hitler-personality is taking a lot of votes in the upcoming national elections. He talks smart to simple people and seems to gain a lot of followers with his talks about closing the borders, ending Muslim-immigration and only accepting refugees from neighbouring countries.

Which sounds so very stupid to me, because The Netherlands can’t just close the borders, as we are part of the European Union. Our borders are somewhere outside of Greece! Avoiding Muslim-immigration is pure racism! And receiving refugees from neighbouring countries only means that we Dutch should accept war victims from Belgium, Germany, Norway and Brittain – where is absolutely no war at all.

Stupid is as stupid does.

With people like that, I just see how a charismatic man with power of the media just can take one third of the population along in his much-promising thoughts, without ever explaining HOW he wants to deal with all his ideas. And wasn’t Hitler a bit the same?! I guess he must have had a terrible childhood…

Ramon goes politics. And that’s all I have to say about that.

The night in Cornubia ended when Irene heated up the spa outside and I got in it for an hour to get totally relaxed for the night. And it was Irene’s heavy alcoholic cocktails that supported that too!

Good night Cornubia!

Ramon.