(Remembering forgotten travel memories! – Originally posted Jan 2017 on my free WordPress site thebackpackingbubble.wordpress.com)
Do random thoughts and memories from your past travels pop into your head and come to the fore? Have you ever sat there thinking or planning a future trip and a memory from a past trip just explodes in your brain, making you think “Oh, I forgot about those travel memories?”
To be honest I don’t have the greatest memory cells anymore but I’m guessing I’m not alone in this and as you’re reading this, you’re nodding your head thinking ‘yeah I’ve forgot those travel memories !’ – I know you’re thinking about it now!
Over the last week since my last post I want to travel differently this time I’ve been researching more into the ‘Workaways’ program and random memories have popped into my head; ones that have been lost in the dark murky back corners of my brain over the years. As the week went on, I started to pluck more of them out from obscurity, giving them fresh breath, reminding myself of so many things that I have forgot or not thought of for so long.
Here a few that I want to share with you –
1 – My farm work in Australia
This is something that I mentioned in a previous post but not really gave much thought. Australia was my first ever trip, I was on a working holiday visa, and as you may know to receive a second year extension you need to complete 3 months or 90 days of rural work. Everybody has different experiences of their farm (rural) work, some good some bad. Me being me, decided to do it last minute, with no prior planning I just rang and applied for anything I could find but with no luck.
Every place I rang said they had enough people and to be fair, I should have started applying at least a couple months before hand. I had all but given up, I was literally booking my ticket back to Sydney when a friend of mine offered me work at the farm he was working at. I changed my destination and the next morning I was in Mildura – Way out in the middle of nowhere between Melbourne and Sydney but closer to Adelaide.
You meet so many people with horror stories about their farm work, so many people taken advantage of, so many farmers ripping off backpackers, doing this rural work is even compared to modern day slavery – I met so many people who had their dreams of traveling Australia turned into nightmares because of their experience with farm work.
KC Vine nursery:
Thankfully though my experience wasn’t bad at all, my work wasn’t grueling, I didn’t have to break my back picking fruit – In-fact, anybody who’s had a torrid time doing their rural work will probably scream at me; because I had the easiest job I could ask for.
I worked at a Vine-nursery (they grew the vines before selling them to vineyards) My job was initially to dip the baby vines in hot wax and box them up, thereafter my job was to plant in the greenhouse, be the forklift driver, water plants and play with ‘Buddy’ my boss’s dog. I had a great time in Mildura, met a great bunch of people, partied out in sand dunes in the desert, swam in the river Murray and got a taste of real Aussie life in the outback.
Doing this farm work was not only crucial to getting my second year extension but set me on my path to continue traveling around the world for the next 5 years. Without it I would have come back to England after just a year away.
2- Being completely broke in Queenstown (New Zealand)
I have no idea how this period of time has escaped my thoughts, if you’ve read an earlier post of mine missing Neverland you’ll know I loved my time in Queenstown but most of time there I was broke. This particular period I want to touch on is because looking back on it, it was quite a fun time. Now I know that sounds quite weird but let me explain – My Canadian friend had come over from Australia to live with me after I’d told her how awesome Queenstown was.
At the time she pretty much only had enough money for her flight over. I had a job but most my pay check went on paying rent and lived off food and drink vouchers I received from work. I had reached my maximum stay limit at the hostel so I needed to move but it was winter in Queenstown, and that means fully stacked with tourists. So finding a room was hard especially on my budget.
Trying to get by when broke:
We searched and searched and finally we found one place – Pinewood lodge, this place had one room available for the two of us. We were not in a position to pick and chose so we took a single room with twin beds (so we were told) When we arrived, the single room was literally a box room with space for just the bunk-bed. We did complain however the only choice we had was to leave and sleep on the street or stay in the box; we stayed.
This miss-hap was laughed off but not without a huge amount of moaning, mainly by me. The following weeks, were some of the lowest weeks of my traveling life, I was smoking the dust from my tobacco, days went by without a real meal, my friend’s encouragement at the time was “Please make sure you get some vouchers today, so we can eat something” – When I did get a voucher, We’d go straight to ‘Fergburger’ for a burger (I didn’t get vouchers everyday) other night’s we’d venture to the store at midnight to see what we can muster up with our change (mainly Harribo sour worm sweets)
Rent was payed on a week to week basis, my friend got a part-time job, so we took it turns to pay rent, which ever one of us got paid first would feed the other. Eventually we had to leave Pinewood and with scarce accommodation we found a much more grottier hostel to move into. The place stank, it only housed 8 people but it had no heating (not good for winter in Queenstown) We didn’t have a choice so we stayed there.
Fuck it lets snowboard:
Now do not judge me for this but at the time there wasn’t much joy, so when I did get a decent pay check, we headed off to Wanaka for a weekend of snowboarding at Treble cone.I remember us both laughing at how we were spending all our money and probably not going to have enough money for the coming week – That is exactly what happened, we came back with not a penny to rub between us.
In-fact after dropping the rental car back, we walked back to Queenstown from the Airport, we had no money for food, nothing to smoke and I had to convince the receptionist to let us stay for the week without paying
It might not have been fun to live through that at the time but looking back it was a hilarious time, we needed laughter to get us through it and I survived it mostly because of who I was with at the time 😀 My fortunes did turn around, My friend decided she was better off going back to Canada, I stuck it out, my pay improved, I moved into a house and even saved enough money to leave New Zealand and travel South East Asia for 8 months.
3 – The countless waterfalls I have seen around the world
I never really think of all the awesome waterfalls I have been fortunate to see and experience. It’s not just the waterfalls but the feelings and emotions I felt in their presence. Those feelings of complete serenity, to me waterfalls have this magical ability to bring calmness and peace. Some of the ones I’ve seen have been jaw-dropping, I don’t know what it is but hearing that searing water violently crash down is just so peaceful. Just watching that sheer force of water drop down just washes every other emotion away and makes me feel like a kid; a very happy kid. I can literally stand in front of them for hours and not get bored.
I’ve been fortunate to witness amazing waterfalls throughout New Zealand, especially in the Milford Sounds, discovering them all over South East Asia but the most spectacular ones were in Central and South America. My day out at the ‘Agua Azul’ waterfalls in Mexico is evident to just how much they turn me into a kid – As soon as I got there, I ran off from my tour group and explored; chasing the chain of waterfalls all day long. Once I returned to the group at the end of the day, I was the only one soaking wet and covered in mud but I didn’t care. I had an amazing day and can’t believe it has escaped my thoughts.
San gill, Colombia:
Another forgotten waterfall adventure was in San Gill, Colombia – It was our last day, we had booked our night bus which was to leave about 7pm. To fill the day me and my friend decided to go explore ‘Cascada de Juan Curi’ a series of waterfalls through the jungle leading to the main one.
We were advised to catch a local ‘Chicken bus’ to the entrance. Easy we thought; however it didn’t go as planned, we jumped on and off the bus and into a cab; this was the day they decided to do road works on the dirt road leading to the waterfalls.
We eventually got to the entrance, with my broken and minimal amount of Spanish I communicated with the farm owner who lets the tourist through to the waterfalls. She advised us of the two paths, a longer trail which would been an hours trek and a shorter 20 minute trek following the series of waterfalls up to the main one. Because of the time, we took the shorter route, as we passed her pet Lama and peacocks she shouted out something in Spanish, I only caught one word…’Bull’…For about 5 minutes as we made our way into the jungle along the track and tried to figure out what she meant – We didn’t have a clue until we saw it – An actual Bull right there in front of us, horns n all.
Getting lost in the fun:
After the initial shock of seeing this huge bull roaming free along the track we got got past the bull with no interaction and went on our merry way. Like I said waterfalls bring out the kid in me but more so in my friend (he’s the stereotypical Brit abroad) we finally made it up to the main waterfall, only to find everybody else had left because it was getting late. We didn’t care, we had a waterfall to play around in all to ourselves. We ran riot, climbing trees, jumping in the streams, getting up close and personal with this mammoth waterfall in-front of us. The only down side was, this is a waterfall you can abseil down but we were too late for that.
After what seemed all afternoon playing in and around the waterfall we decided to head back before it got dark and end up lost in the jungle (the two of us together, that could of happened) We made it back just in time before the Spanish lady locked the gates. She told us to wait in the entrance way and that the bus back into town would be along shortly.
Waiting for a bus that wouldn’t come:
Now bare in mind we were 40 minutes out of town and a night bus to catch, we had two hours to get back into town, back to the hostel, grab our bags and get to the bus terminal. All would have been fine if a bus had come anywhere near the time is should have. We stood on the side of the dirt road at the entrance, in the middle of the San Gill jungle as it turned pitch black and all the nocturnal animals came out.
It got to a point where not only could we hear animals creeping around us, but could see their eyes shining through the tress and bushes off the lights of passing motorbikes. We were very close to hitchhiking back, the bus only 50 minutes late eventually came by. We didn’t get back in time for our original night bus, we needed to reschedule and catch another bus, which turned out to be anther adventure but that’s for another time.
I’m sure you guys are pretty bored with this long post, if you’ve made it this far. There are so many other things, memories and adventures that are still hidden away in my brain. Maybe I’ll write an E-book recounting my travels, what do you think?
Anyway that’s all for this post, hope you’ve enjoyed it and made it all the way through. Do you have any travel memories that you’ve forgot ?