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Entries about work

The Rainbow Coast, Western Australia.

And who was it that said Seattle was rainy? Try the Great Southwest of Australia. It's called the Rainbow coast for a reason. Our 5 months in Albany, Western Australia.

Okay. First of all, I will apologize. Forgive me for forsaking my blog entries for the last 3 months. It may not be a decent excuse though, but I have been working my - now very much in shape - butt off, thanks to biking several kilometers in and out of town everyday for work.

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What can I say about Albany? The first words that pop in my head are grey, rainy.. and windy. But I'm not doing this town any justice at all. It has a stunning coastline and after all it is winter here. And what a mild winter it is in comparison to what I'm usually used to. I can hardly complain. It just makes me miss home more. That's all.

We lucked out basically. Five months in a wonderful house, stocked with all the herbs and spices and basic cooking supplies that I could ever need. With a magical veggie garden in the back, where all our daily needs for fresh greens are met. The two chooks, who don't really need looking after at all. They already realize, they are living in paradise. They've stopped laying eggs for a months or so, but now one of them is getting back on track so who could blame them for anything? And then there's the orange tree... even if there's no sunshine most days, the tree is making us feel loved at least. Never tasted such fantastic freshly squeezed orange juice in my life! But the best perk about this gig is.. the three boxes in the back room filled with VHS's from the nineties. What better way to spend your dark, cold, lonely nights?

So this house-sitting thing is working quite well for us actually... probably better then we could ever have hoped. We knew when we arrived in Australia, running out of money was going to happen at one point (it being so expensive here and all). When we figured out this overly expensive country came along with equally high wages, we knew we were going to take advantage and soon. But how to go about all of this you ask? No worries. Working Holiday Visa? Check. And that's all you need. The rest just takes a bit of smarts and effort and maybe some persisting as well. We were initially worried about a place to stay while we would be working. Rent prices were scaring us quite a bit to be honest. So we came up with two options. One: Find work that would include accommodation and maybe also food or.. Two: find a house-sitting gig in a place where finding jobs would be easy - easier. Both are equally as hard to find. So when we found this ad online for a 5 months long house-sitting job in a reasonably sized town along our planned travel route, we jumped on it immediately. We managed (somehow) to convince a 70 plus year old couple, who spend the winter up north every year, to let us take care of their house while they were gone for 5 consecutive months. Needless to say we will be eternally grateful to Harry and Val. They are the ones responsible for us putting away large amounts of money on our bank accounts at an extremely fast rate.

So work, work, work.... What does it feel like? After a couple of years of indulging ourselves in a rather relaxed way of living - traveling the world and not having to worry much about money. It feels a bit numb to be honest. People might think of us as the escapist kind. Not wanting to settle down, not wanting to tie ourselves down to certain responsibilities. Some of you out there would call us cowards for not wanting to deal with the real world (as they would call it). Which I understand. Completely. But see it from our point of view. Why not take advantage of the limitless possibilities out there? Why not get to know this planet for real before it's too late? We just want to have fun and experience all what is out there as much as possible. What's so wrong with that? We'll get tired of it at one point. We'll settle down. Just not yet though... It's way too much fun being a global nomad..

One place where I work at is the Royal George Hotel. A bartending job will stay the same wherever in the world you may find yourself. So it's a good skill to fall back on. This bar in particular has an immense amount of history. This whole town does by the way. What makes the George a different kind of pub to work at is the old fellas. It's a good old local kind of pub. Nothing fancy. I've got my regulars that come in everyday and they are amazingly entertaining and splendid company. The times they have made me giggle with their wild stories from the good old days. I've heard Robert Plant and Neil Young anecdotes from a former musician suffering from severe tinnitus. Or how about this other fella that one day decided to fill me in on a certain part of his past. "That time I almost went to the slammer for nearly killin me own brotha." That was one of the more heartfelt ones. There was still sadness and pain to be read on his face while he tried to explain. In his defense, his brother did take off with his fiancee while he was at sea. Most of these guys once used to be fishermen or working on the rigs or for the Navy. Now most of them are retired and meet up with each other in the pub almost every day. Every single one of them is adorned with plenty of visible tattoos and even though they might look like rough oldies not to be messed with to an outsider, to me they all are cuddly bears with a heart of gold. To see them all lined up sitting at the bar next to one another, mumbling and cursing a lot (ooh yeah... they curse a lot) with their free hand (the one not holding the beer) cupping their ears trying to catch what their neighbor just had said, because the batteries in their hearing aid might have run low again. You just have to see it for yourself, it's very endearing.

Albany was the right choice to make. Even though I did run into some trouble with a local business owner thinking, because I was a backpacker, that must mean he had a freebie to take advantage of me. Well guess what? I might be a backpacker but I'm not a stupid one. Shame on those who try to scam us out of our hard earned money. Luckily I caught on to it from week number one and made my way out of their as fast and confrontational-free as possible. Karma will have it's way.

So yes. I would recommend to every young backpacker looking for another adventure to come to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa and to work their butts off. If they are smart about it, they will walk away with a huge sum of aussie dollars to spend nice and slow in less "dearer" countries.

3 months down. 2 to go.... then it's back to singing my favorite tune. "On the road again..."

Love and Peace,

A Flemish Girl Down Under.

Posted by flemishgirl 09:41 Archived in Australia Tagged winter australia work north money western_australia orange orange_tree working oranges aud albany exmouth couchsurfing cira's royal_george_hotel housesit housesitting chooks veggie_garden mild_winter working_holiday_visa whv

Anicha

A dear friend of mine made me aware of this powerful word just recently. I had to look it up.

It is one of the essential doctrines or three marks of existence in Buddhism: all of conditioned existence, without exception, is in a constant state of flux, the absence of permanence and continuity.

So basically there is ONE nice sounding word (next to the English version = impermanence) for the saying "Everything is always changing. What arises will pass."
Now how intriguing is that? Try and think of combining this thought with sustainability.
I was planning on introducing what "Our trying to be sustainable as much as possible while traveling" was all about in the first initial entry bit, but it would have gotten too serious too soon. Lots of other organizations or whatever else out there using the term "Sustainable Travel" are talking about using green energy, trying not to leave a carbon footprint, taking alternative ways of transportation, not leaving a mark on a certain place you visit as a tourist. I agree with all that has been said.
But my definition of "Sustainable Travel" would be "Balancing the need to travel with the need to improve my quality of life and the ones around me".

So sustainable energy, what exactly does that mean?
It means meeting our needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs with renewable alternative resources of energy.
Without trying to sound too much like I'm preaching a certain way of life, I just want to show you guys how we try to encompass this into our travel style. It's not hard.. just a couple of basic rules and you're already making a huge difference.
The worst in my opinion is that we can't really go without the use of airtravel. You can look it up if you want (and trust me you'll be surprised), but I don't want to focus on the bad stuff here. Try to go about using airtravel in a positive way while limiting your carbon footprint.
Don't go flying like a maniac back and forward, be smart and save some money this way as well.
Plan ahead and look for cheap online deals. And yes we do pay our extra luggage fee. Don't get me started on that!
Walk more! You'll see a lot more stuff and you'll bump into local events or notice details you didn't even know about.
Hike some spectacular nature and camp anywhere you can get away with it.

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Don't forget about the golden rule: Pack it in, Pack it out!
Go Couch Surfing! It'll save you precious money and that way you don't have to feel trapped in one of those overpopulated hostels. You'll meet locals and get some inside info. You'll make lots of new friends. Some of them will prove to be long lasting friendships instead of numerous meaningless encounters in the crowded and loud hostels.
Eat local stuff. That way you are helping out the local economy and not forcing the prices up.
If the region you are visiting allows it, for example like Hawai'i where we just spent a full month, you can cut your food costs in half by using the old hunting and gathering techniques. Locals went out shooting some wild pigs and turkey for thanksgiving. (We had some. It was delicious!) There is an abundance of fruit in lots of subtropical parts of the world and Hawai'i was no exception.
We've had Coconuts, Macadamia nuts, Noni, Lilikoi and Guava who where in season and to be found anywhere on the island. For FREE!
If it's fallen on the ground, it's yours.

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We hitchhike when we can. It is actually quite easy. Stick out your thumb, whistle a tune and there you go. It should be said that it doesn't always work everywhere and it certainly helps to be picked up if you're a girl or with a girl.
When hitchhiking has proven to be too hard, go and use the public transportation system. Trains, buses, trams, ferries etc..
Try NOT to rent cars. Instead look up if there's a rental relocation program where you are visiting. You'll save money, but your footprint will be larger.
We thought about buying a car in Australia for a year. We quickly abandoned that idea after entering the country. Oz is definitely not one of the cheaper countries. Gas and insurance were two of the main costs and these things tend to be very expensive here.

There are lots more detailed tips that I would like to talk about but this entry is supposed to be about sustainable travel and not only about cheap travel.
Although trying to do it cheap tends to immediately make your travels a hell of a lot more sustainable.
How's that for a trend? :)
Anyways, these are some serious tips on traveling on the cheap folks. Keep them in mind!

Another way of traveling that has brought us to some pretty unexpected, beautiful and far away places (without spending any money what so ever) is this marvelous online organization called Helpexchange.
Signing up costs you 20 euros for a 2 year membership. Think Facebook. You have a profile and hosts have profiles (same with Couch Surfing).
Say you want to go to New Zealand for a couple of months. Go online and check out some hosts.
You work an average of about 5 hours / 5 days a week doing all sorts of different things in exchange for a free place to stay and three meals a day. (some people do it differently, there is no general rule for this, reading profiles thoroughly and emailing your questions are never a bad idea) I'll name a few of our HelpX-experiences, so you would realize how awesome this actually is!
In Greece we stayed in a stereotypical old fashioned village for a month helping out with the olive harvest.

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In Bulgaria we had our own new year's party in our yurt with new friends made in this tiny ass (go back in time a 100 years) old Soviet town. All thanks to Susan our host, who was one of those memorable experiences. She taught us not only how to cob, but much much more.

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In the foothills of the beautiful snowy mountain tops of Bavaria, Germany. My job was to spoil two pregnant, ready to pop, mares and train the little ones so they would be ready for the kids to ride them.

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I'll share more stories with you guys in future entries.
A lot of these HelpX places are in the country side and are focused on being self-sufficient. Some of them are organic farms. Others specialize in something else. But what you can be sure of while using HelpX as a way of travel is you'll pick up new knowledge every day. See how they run their farms. See what they use as an alternative energy source and has proven to be productive for their specific situation. Learn about gardening, flowers, herbal medicine...
Learn how to make your own cheese, soap, wine and beer!
Who doesn't want to do that!?
This way you are taking a little load off of their shoulders by just being there to help out, and you'll get some love and delicious food in return. In our case, you get to see what works for you and what doesn't. We get to test everything out. Big farm or little farm? There are so many different Eco-building techniques. Straw bails, Cob building, Earthships, what's the layout of the perfect solar passive house? You get the idea??
So we can form a more solid idea in our heads of how we want to built our own little paradise on this earth.

If you are going to follow this blog, you'll hear all about our experiences in detail.
I promise you, you'll pick something up. Even if it is just an idea for a recipe.

Please comment or ask about anything you'd like to know.
It's not only fun for me to do this but it makes me feel content that I'm able to share this with all of you

So to get back to the word that caused this whole entry about sustainability.
You'll be gone yourself.. one day too. So promise me one thing.. Make the best of it, will ya?

Love,

Flemish girl

Thanks to my loving husband who takes the time to edit my entries. Thanks for helping me get rid of some bad grammar and typos.

websites mentioned:
www.helpX.net
www.couchsurfing.org

Posted by flemishgirl 22:18 Tagged travel work surfing cheap couch volunteer exchange sustainable hawai'i

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