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ReportsTuesday, 9 July 2002
Mt. Nasura --> Nedlands, Perth, Australia After having a delicious traditional Dutch pancake breakfast in the morning (and the Simon's let me sleep in a bit too) they were ready to drive me to my next place to stay in the suburb Nedlands, just west of the city centre of Perth.
I thanked Reg and Marijke for letting me stay for a day at their place, however they were visibly saddened that I was not able to stay any longer. Of course I am able to stay longer where possible, but I have this urge to keep on going.
In the first place I don't want to disappoint all those people who have invited me in the Perth region and secondly I have a tourist visa that has just more than 1,5 month left. Then I will have to leave the Australian continent.
In Nedlands I stayed with Donelle Toussaint, her boyfriend Brendan and their 4-year-old daughter Madeleine. As soon as I entered their humble little unit in an apartment complex I already noticed walls with books. "I guess you like to read?" I said to Donelle and she told me how they all preferred to read a book than watch television. "We once thought about throwing out the TV, there is nothing on it but crap," Brendan told me.
They both are students and Brandon has been studying since the '90s. Excuse my memory (as this report is written one week later) but I think Donelle studies anthropology and Brendan studies English and Latin.
A few weeks ago Brendan had to stay home because he had the cold. After a long time he had been watching television again, but only to follow the World Cup Soccer for as long as necessary.
All their books in the house fascinated me, even my guest bed room was stacked full with books, like it was a second hand bookshop. At certain times and places I just sat on the floor and looked at all the titles, read covers, read excerpts and listened to what Donelle and Brendan liked about different books. Of course, next to writing and travelling, my other passion is reading.
I was staying with a very well read family. I was just amazed.
We talked a lot too, just lounging around in their living room, with stacks of books I discovered in the house around me. They wanted me to explain how things are in Amsterdam, as young people mostly want to know more about the so-called drugs capital of the world and I told them how that entire free-soft-drugs thing never really was something for me. Soft drugs are available at any coffee shop in the entire country of The Netherlands (and we Dutch call it coffee shop, but it is not a coffee shop as how the rest of the world sees coffee shops) and the education/information about it is so well done that I am not even interested in it.
However some people think the entire population of The Netherlands must be spinning around on all those drugs, when it's widely available the interest is gone (it's mostly the tourists that spin around through the streets and plunge into the canals, drunk).
A 'smoke' in The Netherlands is more a social thing, not something you do secretly in the back garden behind the shed, but something you share with your friends on an idle evening with a few beers. You don't smoke to get high, but only to enjoy the taste of something different. And that is it and than it might only be a monthly thing.
Compare it with drinking a beer, you don't always drink it to get drunk.
Of course, you can buy your smokes everyday and be spinning around, but you'll soon notice how you fall out of the society; not many people live like that.
That's again the different with other countries; the Dutch live very much together with each other. People mingle in pubs, cultures mingle in the streets and everything goes along very well. My friends are Dutch, Germans, Africans, Muslims and Turkish and we all know and respect each other's background.
So that's where my story to Donelle and Brendan was going, all the way to how the Dutch are very tolerant, to each other, strangers and new things. Better inform people about the unknown than to exclude or ban it.
As I am a bit desperate for a way out of Perth, towards the eastern located cities Adelaide and Melbourne, Donelle helped me out with ideas on who to contact and where to go. Almost the entire world has heard about that train that does that entire distance over the Nullarbor Plain (Latin for 'no trees'), that big patch of dusty nothing that is in between Perth and Adelaide, and that train ends up all the way in Sydney. I am trying to get a lift from that Indian Pacific train, but know how hard it is to find any form of contact there!
I enjoyed how Brendan was reading Madeleine stories from a book and how later in the evening, after dinner, Madeleine invited me come and play with Play Dough! Now that was a long time ago and I had strained my fingers to create the most dim-witted creations, while Madeleine was producing flowers and cakes for me. She even taught me how to make flowers with clay.
It was a most enjoyable and relaxing day.
A friend of Donelle once sent her the link of my website and it was just for the fun of helping me out with a place to stay that she had invited me over.
I actually had the feeling to stay a month here, because I had this desire to read all those astonishing great books they had.
I ended up swapping the book Rush by the 21-year-old Australian guy Daniel Mason for a book from Donelle's collection: The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith by Thomas Keneally.
It will be an inspiring book for on the road (and when I find the time) as it is about the son of an Aboriginal mother and a white father. A missionary shows Jimmie what it means to be white – already he is only too aware of what it means to be black. Exploited by white employers and betrayed by his white wife Jimmie cannot take it anymore. He must find a way to express his rage. Quite and intriguing story though!
The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith is based on an actual incident that occurred at the turn of the 20th century and it set against the background of a turbulent Australian history. Both angles interest me as I can only learn a bit more of the entire historical situation of Australia.
Tomorrow I had to go again and things could only be different again.
Good night Nedlands!