Turning 60 in Australia + Other Travel Snippets
In 11 days I head for Australia for the 1st time ever and just realised I haven't a clue as to where I'll be landing. It's Melbourne but I couldn't point to exactly where that is on a map.
As I write the current Melanie Reinhart “12 Holy Nights workshop” is still going on in Bali. It’s Sagittarius Day - and I ordered a chocolate mousse cake for the group, pointing at a size on a chart I asked how many it should feed, "15" the person said (or so I thought). "Perfect" says I, the person looked a little surprised but didn’t question me. The cake arrives and is huge (amazing how cross language 15 and 50 sound so alike). Half our village is on a sugar high tonight.
3:10 am: my friend Susan and I are up with the frogs drinking green tea (actually we haven't given them any as they sound jacked up enough already). We're off to fly between the spectacular live volcanoes of Java to the largest Buddhist temple in the world - and to go a-spying for old teak houses and furniture. Happy girls are we.
The persistence of the scratchy ear splitting call to prayer on this neighbouring Muslim island is matched only by Susan's insistence that someone please change the "music".
Is there anything more fun than the purely superficial "girlie stuff" sharing between girlfriends? It is one of those pleasure threads from earliest childhood that never ceases to delight.
A watery cloudy but still dazzling full moon has my eyes wide and round in the illuminated dead of night. A little more sleep would be nice, but how to resist the flirty golden silvery waltzing sun and moon when they wake you up to play?
Last day with a tiny window of time before the inevitable "leaving Bali" rush. Scoopy scooter and I are leaving the madding crowds of Ubud and riding off to cruise the backroad villages of Bali where life is still timeless, magical and nature and ceremony still throb more intensely and passionately than anything we “tamu” (guests) have imported.
It is heart breaking watching Balinese friends leave their very young children for up to a year to work at some blood sucking distant 5 star resort, filling already bloated western or middle eastern coffers to earn a mere pittance of a salary. These places charge $90++ a massage and pay a salary of $500 a month for these people to give 100+ massages a month, and even have the audacity to make them pay their own airfare to get there! Exploitation is alive and thriving in the 1st world. I have several close friends employed this way as it is still the quickest way for them to make money.
Nothing like a little major dental work right before a red eye flight, they will be numbing my tongue so I'm hoping I don't drool as well as slur my way through customs, but I have the best dentist ever here in Bali so not worried a bit.
Leaving Bali for 8 months and 1 week, may the time fly without going fast. I know I will miss this place but I also don't want to miss a thing in between.
Airports epic people watching zoos. No Nicole, Hugh, kangaroos or koala bears - at least not yet anyway.
Having a great time putting real life warm and welcoming human faces to so many of my FB astro-tribe friends here in Australia.
Darned hotel mini bottles with writing only big enough for ants, I've now officially lost count of the number of times I've slathered my hair with body lotion.
Sitting in the Docklands of Melbourne; perfect weather, gentle flowing water, friendly Aussies, almost pristine everything. I know I have seen relatively little of it, but it is such a light, laid back city, possibly the easiest going one I've ever seen. And then there is the added pizzazz of adorable bright green and orange lorikeets who zoom around madly like happy little head cocking loudly chattering missiles.
It's really quite delightful (and unusual) being anywhere on the planet where you don't see a Starbucks sign blotting the horizon every 5 minutes. And then I find out they actually came and then sank here in Australia ... makes me love you even more Oz.
I am glad that I paid so little attention to good advice; had I abided by it I might have been saved from some of my most valuable mistakes. - Edna St. Vincent Millay (reading her bio and loving it)
Sydney bound. The name ever and always conjures up images of a brash and funny cockney bloke, perhaps actually being there will break that pattern?
The gift of Australia has been the experience of being with long-time great friends in their own natural habitats. Another strand in the web of my life is now solidly pinned in the reality of having "been there". I like this very much. And the country itself (allowing that my experience has been short, limited and always in the bosom of loving friends) feels vast, easygoing and incredibly civilised. It is also staggeringly expensive, all to do with timing of course, right now the US$ is weak and the AU$ strong.
Neptune now in Pisces until 2025, and for the very 1st time in its own sign since its discovery and arrival into our collective consciousness. An amazing metaphor for potential illumination, spirituality, awakening, transcendence, imaginativeness, creativity, kindness and positive healing and sacrifices ... or utter delusion, disillusion, evasion, addiction, escapism, deception instability, avoidance, weakness and victimhood. It's our personal and collective choice.
Leaving on yet another jet plane. Taking the "scenic route" via Hong Kong, 23 hours flying time, and my Aussie friends now tell me it is only 14 hours direct to LA. Interesting how these discount tickets can take one through such air mazes, but no worries, I'll see you my wonderful Califriends when my land legs unfurl again.
Australia to Hong Kong; 9 hours and 6 straight episodes of Downton Abbey later and I'm practically cross-eyed (but it was wonderful). And I may be delirious, but I'll swear the pilot said his name was Captain Kirk.
60 is definitely different, not at all in a bad way, but my "to do" list suddenly started flashing neon lights. And the name "bucket" list doesn't quite have enough of a motivational punch, I have more of a "_uckit, if not now then when?" one.
Neptune in Pisces: what an extraordinary dream-time we have entered. Personally I have begun dreaming of the ocean, waves, shorelines and turtles, and been inspired enough to dust off and resuscitate my slumbering dream journal. Actually that last statement is a bit of fibb-ish (Piscean?), poetic, metaphoric license; said journal is now a rather less romantic Mac-Word file.
We’ve entered "beyond our wildest dreams" time, allow for all possibilities, especially those you can't imagine.
So many of my best women friends are with extraordinary men, and I deeply appreciate their seemingly peripheral but still significant strength and support in my life. I want to shout out a collective thank you (although most are not on FB:), to those brothers in friends' arms who leave me with zero doubt that the world still has an abundance of truly great men.
Frequent flyer tickets to Bali and India (August and December) in my hot little hands, now I can relax, laying low in the west is just fine so long as the glow of the east is rising close by.
I get heady with the brilliance of what men and women have penned over the ages, and it provides the greatest hope for humanity that I personally know of. What I can't imagine is not tapping into this wealth, how can anyone possibly not read, if they know how? When someone says they are bored I get this desire to jump up and down and scream this out loud... fortunately I usually contain myself.
Seriously, how can a person be expected to complete their taxes under both Mars and Mercury retrogrades? Hoping, hoping that when the Sun finally moves into Aries it'll bring with it enough white hot energy to sear through this stalled Piscean haze.
If you don't become the ocean, you'll be seasick every day. ― Leonard Cohen
One of the many, many reasons why I intend on spending the final years of my life in a 3rd world country where they love, respect, care for and enjoy the company of their elders.
The more I read, listen, probe and learn, the more I realise that despite thinking of myself as an extreme Liberal I'm in truth not nearly enough of one and instead lurk rather ineffectually close to the safe and saggy muscle-free middle.
Just buried the bulky old antiquated day-planner and placed my trust in some machines talking to a "cloud" as organisers and memory for my life. Yikes!
The mystery and power of the "written list"- in my world it seems things only get done after commitment through this teensy ritual.
Sitting here drinking tea, thinking of the amazing women, (some physically mothers, some not), who over the years, both collectively and individually, have been even more than the mother I always wanted. Thanks to you I have grown to know what it is to feel loved, nurtured, accepted and supported. Your presence in my life has taught me that the word "mother" is as broad and encompassing as "love" or "happiness”.
Feeling the pulsing of those celestial bodies right down to the very marrow of my own borrowed earthly one. It's one of those days when I have no question as to why astrology captured my all.
I love people watching, but I'm not so keen on people hearing. Sitting in Santa Barbara airport, trying not to hear the deeply personal stuff a very loud (or deaf?) woman is discussing on the phone. In which technological decade did we completely lose our discretion?
Sitting in New Orleans plotting my (very slow) train trip from London to Beijing next year. Okay I should be living in the moment, but every adventure feels like a springboard to the next one. Momentarily off to explore the French Quarter, take a steamboat, look for the Voodoo Queen's grave and eat beignets, so, so much to do before I grow old(er).
Friends are the ones who are with you if even when they're not.
My friend Carole and I are off to the Louisiana swamps in search off alligators - and whatever else they have in there. We found all.
Okay. I have a proposal, fire signs board all flights 1st (with Aries moons absolutely 1st), water signs 2nd, earth signs last (and Taurus the very last). I am positive it would be more efficient.
Zipping through Mexico City on the ever so comfy bus to San Miguel. I'm right back to speaking Spandonesian (the gibberish I manage to create out of my limited Indonesian and Spanish), basking in the kindness and friendliness that is so much a part of the lure of this colourful land. And much as I moan about FB, it warms the cockles of my heart to log in and find friends tagging along (pun kind of intended).
San Miguel de Allende: perfect town, perfect hotel for the workshop venue and the students' lodging. All the rooms have quaint names like Casita, Carmen's and Bouganvillea, except for mine which is called Alcatraces (which is the plural of Alcatraz) ... hmmm.
Our group will be watching it from the high desert of Mexico. We are going to hot springs baths, 101 degree natural thermal mineral waters where we will swim through underground quartz and crystal grottos leading to outside pools from where we will watch the transit from a high west facing hill overlooking the vast Laja River Valley and the majestic Sierra Madre Mountains.
A labyrinth of interconnecting subterranean tunnels and passageways lead to an underground pyramid chamber where we can relax while before descending into the steamy hot waters. Candles light the way through the tunnels to outside pools, the twinkling stars, the moon and the brilliant sweep of the Milky Way - and the transit of Venus across the Sun.
4am in Guanajuato Mexico, and the sky is as clear as one could possibly wish for. Off to Lunar Eclipse gaze, the life of an astrologer perpetually keeps ones' eyes and hearts heavenward.
How did the Sumerians figure out all those stars without the iPhone?
No relationship ever ends, every single one is part of the fabric of our being. Regardless of what the "story" is or was, may we weave it into a strength.
If you think security is tough in the USA, try a Mexican bus, pat downs, dogs and everyone video photographed, even the nun sitting next to me (who by the way is working her rosary overtime).
On yet another bus. Had a very smug moment in Mexico City, when the gods of overweight baggage seemed to be beaming down on me, and I cruised right through way over the limit. However my glasses then promptly went completely missing going through security, never to be seen again. Darn those post pride falls!
A problem shared may indeed be a problem halved, but the same rule does not apply to personal dramas.
The sweet music of a best friend's laughter in real time with nature's acoustics.
I was wondering why I was almost falling down from breathlessness every time I ran up the stairs, until my trusty iPhone informed me that the altitude here is 8,600 ft+.
The percentage of the truly great loves one gets in a lifetime that are purely of a romantic nature can be relatively low compared to the other varieties. At least that's what I'm realising.
I have the Trans-Siberian Handbook in my happy little palm. A guide to the world's longest railway journey, through Russia, Mongolia and China; and my travel goal for next year. The book is written by Bryn Thomas, a Welshman (obviously!), born in South African, who crossed the Sahara in a car he built himself, crossed 2,500 miles of the Andes on a bicycle by himself, as well as several other mind boggling feats. He's my new best paper friend/hero/companion (no Kindle edition available).