Karl (31, Irish, Construction worker) handling the pet crocodile we had in our pool for a night. There was a moment of fear when it ran off and we didn't know where it was, but it hadn't gone far.
Okay, so I have finally been bullied into getting up a blog entry about Alice Springs so you can see where I live and whom I hang out with. Don’t get me wrong, I have wanted to tell you, but I just don’t know where to start.
Alice Springs is a lovely little town in the middle of the Australian outback and is essentially a place in growth, which is why there are loads of jobs here. It is in addition a stopover destination for tourists going to Uluru and other rocks nearby. This has also been our first real meeting with Aboriginals. The Aboriginals are paid by the Australian government for the wicked things done to them and their land in the past, which practically means they walk around doing nothing and drink their money away. There are loads of extra restrictions on alcohol here compared to the rest of Australia because Aboriginals can’t hold their liquor really well and quickly get aggressive and/or otherwise annoying. For example the other day we saw two women about sixty years old dragging each other’s hair out, screaming and hitting each other. We didn’t quite know where to look. They are everywhere, in the street, in the parks, outside Coles (grocery shops), and they smell really bad (from lack of hygienic habits, you smell them before you see them) but like loads of other things you get used to them and they become part of the landscape of Alice. I have to say that hands down this is the place in the world I have been where the racism is tangible. The resentment from both sides is undeniable and I believe that in the current state of mind here in Alice, it would be a difficult problem to resolve.
But in the midst of all these sociological problems, we still have come to love this place or for the most part I would say we love the people.
At the moment, I still live in the Haven house, a house with three bedrooms, one bathroom, kitchen and living room shared with 7 other people. Henriette used to live here with me, but moved out when she took a two-week holiday back to Byron Bay and subsequently moved in with Shina and Wong, two friendly and hilarious Koreans. Once you get a couple of beers in Koreans and they start speaking English as opposed to Korean (they seem to be too self-conscious about English sober) they have loads of interesting and funny things to say. E.g. did you know that in Korea you get born as a one-year old, so Wong for instance is 31 in Korea, but 30 in western calculations?!?
I have managed to sneak myself into a two-bedroom room after spending the first month or so in the four-bedroom room. I am currently sharing it with Frøydis, a 19 year-old Norwegian from Rendalen i Hedmark. We have loads of fun when she is not working at Rock Bar in town. For instance one day we made ginger bread cookies just because none of us had had any for Christmas, and we also go to the cinema on the one day she has off a week. It has become a tradition.
Other than Frøydis, I live with Adam, a 31 year-old Australian who works in construction and Nikki, 20 year-old French who paints houses. They have lived here as long as I have lived here and we have become very good friends. Conversation is always interesting with Adam and Nikki knows how to entertain, even when he isn’t trying.
There is a big changeover in the house cause people tend to pass through Alice within a couple of months, but for the bulk of my time I also lived with an Irish couple, Karl (31) and Bernie (27).
They are in Fiji at the moment, but are coming back to stay in Alice for another two years since Karl has been sponsored by his construction company. Through these two Irish people we have gotten to know the entire Irish population of Alice, which is significant. Ireland has been hit badly by the recession and as a consequence my friends tell me there are hardly any young Irish people left in Ireland. They have all gone abroad to seek work; especially if they have trade like plumbing, construction or electrician. In fact, 90 % of the guys I know here work in a trade, which is refreshing from Norway where everyone I know has or is working on a University degree. I have too say, meaning no offence to any men with University degrees, that these guys have the appearance of being proper men, that is the old fashioned, traditional man, which is surprisingly refreshing and doesn’t at all feel oppressive and annoying. They act more like proper gentlemen, which is sometimes lost of Norwegians.
Another good friend I got in the house, who has travelled on, is Anika (28) from Germany. She took especially good care of me when I was on crutches (tell you more about that in a second) and I could talk to her about anything and everything. She made especially sure that I never stayed behind during the weekend when people go out on the town and was very patient when I was really slow.
At the moment, in addition to me, Frøydis, Nikki and Adam, we have a couple of Canadian girls, Kim (24) and Robin (24) who are good fun and laidback and just recently Dave (Dutch, 32) and Ryan (Irish, 27) moved in. It is a multinational hub, which creates interesting conversations with varying viewpoints and fresh arguments. Ryan especially has given loads of interesting views on Northern Ireland (where he is from) since he is a catholic and one of his closest friends here in Alice, Graham, is protestant and also from Northern Ireland. It’s like a mini version of the world.
The one shot there is of me with a cast. The purple thing is my useless foot. This is on the morning after we went out camping.
As you all probably know by now, I had the misfortune of deciding to be healthy and going to the gym, which resulted in a 95% torn Achilles tendon. Although I appreciate the experience of having surgery, staying a night in hospital and walking around on crutches for six weeks, the injury left me unable to do my work as waitress in Red Ochre Grill. In essence I have done nothing for 11 weeks. Although when I say nothing, for the first weeks everything I did, like cooking food, grocery shopping etc. was a chore cause it had to be done on one foot, so I didn’t have a lot of energy left. I have also been doing some writing, photo manipulation (example of work below)...
From the left it's Phil (22, Irish, security cameras), Adam, Gary (24, Irish, electrician), Nikki, Karl and Dion (27, Irish, plumber).
...and obviously reading and watching movies (which all you media students will know is essentially research so qualifies as work;). Adam was also nice enough to buy me an A3 drawing pad, which has been used vigorously to visualize some of the ideas that are in my head. I want to point out that during the whole experience I have hardly been in any paint, other than a couple of days after my surgery. I just can’t use my foot. At the moment I can walk around on it fairly freely as I am slowly strengthening and lengthening the muscle. It is tediously slow, but it is getting slowly stronger.
Living in a house with seven other people is probably what has prevented me from succumbing to depression and boredom. There is seldom a moment of the day where I am alone in the house and, like I have already mentioned, they always drag me along when they are going out. They even took me with them when they wanted to go camping right outside Alice.
Living with loads of Irish people also resulted in an absolutely amazing St. Patrick’s Day where everyone had to wear green, we listened to Irish folk music and put green food colouring in the beer. I will take this moment to mention that the Irish know how to throw a good party. :D
Our plans at the moment are to stay here in Alice till the end of May and on the 30th of May we have booked a seven-day trip to Fiji before we stay a couple of days in Brisbane and then head home to Europe and Norway on the 10th of June (bar any volcano ash getting in our way).
I am also going for a long-weekend to Melbourne on the 6th of May to meet up with Lauren and Teresa (fellow CMP students from England). Lauren is coming all the way from UK and Teresa is currently trying to find work in Melbourne I believe.
I will update with another blog after I have been to Melbourne. Till then, hope you are all perfect wherever in the world you may be.