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ReportsMonday, 22 July 2002
Denmark --> Peppermint Grove, Perth, Australia From Pemberton I travelled all the way back to Perth, as I already planned. Back in Perth I choose to stay another day with Emma in Peppermint Grove. Last night she was taken to the hospital by ambulance and all and she is confined to bed for the coming four/five days.
This time I can be a nurse ;-)
My hosts Kevin and Maureen let me sleep in in that comfy big bed they had offered me, and after a shower and breakfast it was time to get going again. Today I was going all the way back to Perth, just another +400km distance and I was going to hitchhike it.
Maureen made me a pack of tucker food for on the road, including some sandwiches and some fruit and the couple were happy to take me a bit up the road to a town called Mt Barker. This is where I gave them a big thank-you and said goodbye.
I was standing along the highway that leads all the way to Perth, so I shouldn’t be very unlucky. And I wasn’t! Within 45 minutes a guy named Barry pulled over and took me with him. He (and his dog with a broken leg plastered) was going all the way to Perth. Lucky man Ramon!
It was a long way and after some social talking with him I quickly snoozed away under the warm sunlight of the afternoon. It’s one of the worst crimes to fall asleep in somebody else’s car when you are hitchhiking, but Barry could understand it.
He had been hitchhiking himself when he was a young boy and knew how exhausting travelling can be. And also, the ride to Perth could take some five hours and you can’t stay awake that easily. Do a gap like this in Europe and you are asked to speak a different language when you get to your destination.
Barry had been all around Australia before, visited New Zealand and crossed through the USA. His first visit to the US wasn’t that successful. His old man has major back problems and the Australian government cut back on his medicines, so he had to find some other remedies: illegal drugs. And with cocaine he found out he could also make a lot (a lot!) of money if he could help out other Australians with it. When Barry’s dad took him along to the US for the first time, he got busted for smuggling and was sent to jail. Big mistake!
Back in Australia, after serving his time in an American jail, they didn’t want him here any more and deported him to England, where he still lives now. “It’s hard to get out of that world, once you have sniffed the dollar notes in your hands. My dad would ship over 30,000 US-dollars worth of drugs from Los Angeles to Sydney and you don’t easily stop a business like that. It was inevitable that he got caught one day.”
Barry himself never got in that business, he was too young for it. He studies fish biology in Perth and is about to go for his PhD. “I want to help out the endangered fishing areas and those places where people overfish and end up with nothing left. I might start a fish farm in Africa or do business with folks in Japan.” It all sounded interesting. Fish biology. Never heard of it before.
We arrived in Perth around 3pm, I expect it would be much later before I’d get there. Barry dropped me off at a metro station in West Perth and advised me to just take that train to Peppermint Grove without paying and if any questions were asked: “Just play the dumb tourist.” It was fine by me, I am dumb traveller anyway. Who else travels the world without any money?
I made it to the suburb easily and contacted Nicolas again. He picked me up at the station within five minutes.
Yes, I got back to my hosting place where I stayed before last week, with Emma and her pasta-making mum and communications consulting dad. Things weren’t going good with Emma. She sent me a sms text message that she was rushed to the hospital last night as she could not walk, speak or whisper anymore. This time she was ill and I’d come over to nurse around a bit.
When I got to their home everybody was sleeping after this unrelaxed last night. That was a good opportunity to have a nap myself and Nic helped me preparing a bed in their computer room. Yep, travelling is tiring!
Around 6pm everybody was awake. Emma was coughing her lungs out in her bed room and Ronda, her mum, was about to prepare dinner in the kitchen. I first thanked her for letting me stay another day and asked all about what had happened here.
After two weeks of holiday from university and a camp out with kids, Emma lost her immune system a bit and caught a nasty viral chest illness. Ronda decided to get her to the hospital to see if it was something more serious. And that occurred together with an ambulance and everything.
Fortunately it wasn’t anything worse, but Emma was now confined to her bed for the next 4-5 days. She can’t talk and even whispering is a hard thing to do. I allowed her only to nod yes or no and asked her “How are you doing?”. A mean face looked at me, she could not answer that with a nod! Haha.
So it was very quiet in the house, not a bad thing at all. I helped out Ronda in preparing an ultimate steam baked chocolate cake, one of Emma’s favourite deserts. As the cake was steaming under a pan, Emma and I cleaned out the pan with the leftovers of that sweet dough.
Since my last visit to Emma a sort of a weird and wonderful band had gotten between us. We had some great conversation (except for today then) and that’s very charming to me. Like she wrote it on the Forum of this website, we cemented a friendship as we knew each other for year. Maybe this explains my return to Peppermint Grove a bit.
I also got a great opportunity to find myself a way out of Perth. It is one of the most isolated regions in the world and I had to leave it to discover the remaining parts of Australia. But had no way out yet. I was actually a bit stuck.
The Nullarbor Traveller could take me on their tour to Adelaide. Travelabout had offered me a ride on their 6-days tours to Alice Springs, where I could hop on the 9-days tour from Alice Springs to Adelaide with the celebrated Wayward bus.
But there were some nasty angles: 1) The first Nullarbor tour would depart on August 14; 2) The first Travelabout tour would leave next week and 3) It would take me a total of 15 days to get to Adelaide if I took that last option. That means I’ll have only some 15 days left on my tourist visa to get my pack back to Sydney. I would have to rush a bit too hard and that would be a shame for all the people who had invited me in Adelaide and Melbourne. I probably already have to skip a possible visit to the island Tasmania!
I definitely wanted to leave this place as soon as possible, so I was a bit stuck. I contacted some people on the internet to find out if they’d see a way to help me out and even got the private mobile phone number of the chief executive manager of the Indian Pacific, the famous train that goes all the way from here to Sydney in a few days. I was going to give him a call tomorrow.
Emma wasn’t really progressing in overcoming her illness and kept coughing a lot. We watched new episodes of Friends on TV, and got involved in a double episode of The Practice. Ronda fed us with a potato and pea soup and we got really happy when eating that delicious steamed chocolate cake. That spoiling sweetness really fills up good.
When everybody went to bed, I caught up in some writing. Emma joined in and got her computer connected with the Internet too and suddenly she started chatting with me through ICQ. What an invention! The lady that couldn’t say a word could still have great talks through typed words. It took until after midnight when we caught up in what we had to say to each other.
When she got to bed, she gave me a little present. It was a book with almost all-known Aussie slang, including some poems and real Aussie songs. I had quite some laughs reading some pages of that book before I got to bed myself.
Good night Peppermint Grove!