My Flight Left Without Me

qantas jet

Ok, well, it’s like this… I’m still in Australia even though my flight left (without me) over 9 hours ago.

Tell me about it. Talk about crazy stuff! My bags are still packed, I have a Brazilian visa in my passport (that will never get used), and had all of my travel organized, even down to people I’m staying with and everything. And now I’m not going…
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Birthday in Oz

When I turned 40, it was a really big deal. Unfortunately for me, the people around me did not think the same way, and so my 40th birthday came and went without any fanfare at all. I guess when you are in the middle of Peru, surrounded by students and constrained by activities relating to the mission in which I am involved, it is pretty hard to organise something big.

A couple of eggs smashed on my head, which seems to be a customary thing for those with birthdays in Peru, and a card signed by a handful of friends were about the only reminders that this was actually one of the biggest days of my life.

Some of my birthday presents

The age of forty for me was one of the greatest milestones in my life. It brought with it many discoveries both about who I was and where I was going that caused both conflict and serious growth during this time. To have celebrated it in some big way would have helped me pass through this process at the time.

Now it does not matter anymore. Of course it did at the time, but it was one of those things that after a year it was no longer important. Now I am turning 41. This seems hardly significant at all, as most of my struggles relating to this new age are now over.

Turning 40 was like the entry into adulthood, it was the turning of a corner in life that revealed that I could not remain young forever. Perhaps for others this happens at 30 or another age. For me it happened at 40.

So when my birthday comes and goes it is no longer matters greatly to me. Sure, celebrating with good friends or doing something nice on the day is always great, but it is no longer a necessity. I can relate now to my late grandmother who saw every birthday the same as any other day.

Apart from some eats (as seen in the pic) for presents, there was nothing more to identify my birthday this time. No big party, no phone calls outside of family (maybe everyone is too used to me being overseas), no expensive presents, no anything. Yet somehow it seemed right. This time… I liked it like that.

This was the first birthday I have celebrated in Australia for over ten years… and the quietest one too.

More photos after the break…

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The Best Way To Wake Up


The sweet harmony of crashing waves slowly ease their way through into my consciousness. I spin on the bed, trying to coax another half an hour’s rest from the already stifling hot day. The early sun’s rays have heated the canvas annex to the point of a sauna and beads of sweat are starting to run off my body.

“Just a little more…” I think to myself casting off even the smallest corner of the sheet which had been touching me in the vain hope that it would cool me off.

Ten minutes later, after tossing and turning and trying to force myself back into the bliss of sleep, the war against the ever increasing heat off the sun is lost.

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Working in the Streets

The Soup VanI had been sitting there for a while before Andrew sat down beside me. The flimsy plastic chairs that we had lined against the wall provided welcome relief for Andrew as he shared of the complete exhaustion that now came upon him since he stopped using drugs.

Brought up in a rich home with both parents working in high-level medical fields, Andrew decided to drop out of life after high-school. One of three children, he names himself the black sheep of the family. It has been two years now since his dad dropped him off in this area, destined to live on the streets.

More story after the break…

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New Years at Mooloolaba

Somehow, this part of the beach has earned a reputation for being the party area. As such, every year they celebrate the New Year with lots of fireworks, bands, and activities along the main street which is closed and fenced off.

The evening is divided into two sections, with family friendly events and activities running from early afternoon until the culmination of their day with fireworks at 8pm. Just after this the main events for the evening started to gear up, with concerts, buskers, and roving acts throughout the night until midnight when the largest of the fireworks celebrates the New Year.

My old year ended at about 11pm when I crawled into my bed, and my new year began at 12.01am when everybody on the beach started screaming and shouting “Happy New Year” for the next ten minutes.

So Happy 2009 to all of you. I trust that this year brings you closer to your dreams, nearer to your loved ones, deeper in your convictions, and stronger in your faith. Have a great one!


The fireworks at 8pm

The 8pm fireworks for New Year’s Eve. The main crowd can be seen standing on the lit beach to the right of the fireworks, while this was taken from a distance at the entrance to the river harbour.

More photos after the break…

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Christmas by the Beach

Only one week after arriving in Australia I have been living at the beach in a caravan with my family. Time here goes both slowly and quickly at the same time. Each day is filled with nothing, and nothing is one of the best things you can do. A sleep here or there, reading the paper or a book, watching the waves roll in to the shore or the people on the beach, diving into the water to cool off and ride a wave, catching up with some emails, and wandering around the shops.

It is a life of nothing, a very relaxing few weeks set aside amongst a busy schedule to help remind me that it really is possible to live this way… at least for a little while.

Taking up the van Waves

Towing the van up to the coast… A wave rolling in toward the shore.

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Last Day Blues

It is late night now, and tomorrow I fly out. Anything that I have not yet done will remain undone, anyone that I have not yet seen I will not get to see. My time here is now over, and I am heading back to my home in South America, with a quick stop in New Zealand.

Farewelling my parents as I leave Australia
A last farewell to my parents before leaving Australia.
One of the things that has amazed me is how hard it is to get around to everybody in the small amount of time that I have been here. Although there has been lots of time in terms of days, most people seem to only have their nights spare to catch up with people, which leaves me with big chunks of the daytime free and nobody to see. As a result, and also because of some poor planning, there have been some people dear to me whom I have not been able to see.

This seems crazy now, looking back on it, but yet somehow it happened. There is no chance now to undo what is done, to find time where it no longer exists. Now I am gone for yet another period of unspecified time. Hopefully the next time we will be able to catch up.

Back in Brissy

Well, after seeing my mate tie the knot in the most amazing city of Melbourne, I am back again in good ol’ Brissy. Melbourne was a fun place to be and full of activities, but getting back here I have been treated to some wild speedboat racing. Not a bad event to have going on just down the road from home.

Now with only one more week to go, life is filled with making decisions about what stuff to take back with me and what stuff to leave here. Not as easy as it sounds, with considerations for nosey customs officers at the different border crossings, weight limitations on the flight, and just being able to lug it all with me as I change from bus to bus to bus on my journey back home.

Of course there is the important final catch up with my friends too. In South America I would simply rock up to each friend’s house, perhaps with a quick call while on my way over. They would invite me in for a meal and a chat and we would enjoy a few hours or so of catch-up. Over here life is a little different. I have my calendar and sit at home calling each person. We then compare the spare slots on our calendars and see if and where we can fit some sort of catch-up in. Normally this will be a night at the movies, breakfast at some coffee house, dinner at Hog’s Breath Cafe or some other “event” where we get to chat a little too.

Highly organised, and without too much flexibility. But at least I know within the first few days who I will be seeing up until the day I go. Different cultures, different styles. And somehow I am trying to fit into both of them.

Chris and Geena Married

Well, my whole reason for coming over to Australia this time was to be at Chris and Geena’s wedding. Yesterday they just got married, and what a beautiful wedding it was.

One of the things that struck me about their wedding was that it was the most relaxed wedding that I have ever been to. Set in one of the oldest churches in Melbourne, I had the honour of standing next to Chris with two other mates of his as he and Geena tied the knot.

Getting married
Tying the knot, Geena’s brother performed the ceremony.

We then wandered around the city, taking photos in doorways and cafes and other interesting nooks and crannies. It was the end of the Friday work day so the place was full of people and heads were turning everywhere as our bridal party of six wandered along with Chris and Geena. Of course, Chris being the cowboy, had his big hat on for most of the time and looked good in it too.

Leaving the church
Chris and Geena leave the church.
When the bride and groom took off in their horse and carriage to the reception, I loaded up the Audi with the bridesmaids and we zoomed off to try and beat them there. It didn’t quite work, but it was fun trying and soon enough we were all together at the Willows restaurant.

The wedding party
The wedding party.

A fine series of speeches and lovely food was followed by a lot of energetic dancing before we all waved the happily married couple off as they were chauffered away in the Audi to their hotel for the night. Sometime later they will be heading over to Malaysia for a honeymoon on some unknown island and mostly deserted beach.

Everyone together
Everyone together.

Well done Chris and Geena. It was fantastic to be there.

The boys
The boys and the famous cowboy hat.

Chris and Geena posing
Chris and Geena enjoying the moment.

Horse and carriage
Chris takes Geena to the reception in the carriage.

One happy man
One very happy man.