Ok so I’ve been really slack with updating this thing. It’s not that I haven’t been doing heaps of interesting things, because Matt is always planning and scheming and concocting and keeping us very busy, but it’s probably because of that near-incessant busy-ness that I haven’t taken much time to sit and write.
Since the beginning of 2011 Matt and I have been on quite a few adventures! We’ve visited multiple prize homes (homes that are brand-new and decorated and raffled off, basically, with tickets costing between $1 and $15 each, depending on the home) and played a lot of trivia! Tuesday nights we go to a local restaurant/pub and play trivia – the winners get a $100 food voucher for the restaurant (valid for a month), 2nd place get’s $50 and 3rd place gets $25. Team DARE TO DREAM has come in 3rd and 2nd a few times, and even hit 1st when Sunny was here to help us out! Last week we came in 2nd so we’re planning to enjoy a nice dinner tomorrow while we play 🙂
Australia Day came and went (end of January) and we enjoyed the festivities – though not like everyone else! As we had Samara with us, we attended a family friendly event in a park instead of drinking our body weight in beer, like most Aussies. Probably a wiser decision! One of the local papers was giving out free “bucket hats” with the Australian flag on them, so I – in all of my cheesiness – had to don it for the day!
Our flights to Africa are booked! After much debate over the cost, Matt and I took the plunge. We know it’s going to be an amazing 5-week trip (mid-May thru mid-June) around Eastern Africa, and neither of us can wait to camp under the stars, see the incredible wildlife and get another few countries knocked off our list! Especially after speaking to so many other friends who have been there, my anticipation and excitement is growing!
Matt, in all of his wonderfulness, surprised me with a ticket to Melbourne at the beginning of February so I could see Jen, a friend from Tucan who was leaving Australia (well by now she’s long gone!) to move to Wales to be with her honey (sound familiar?!). We hadn’t seen each other since April in Havana for just a few hours, and she’s a close friend, so he sent me away for the day so we could catch up! The day went too quickly and we had so much fun! I just wish Matt could have been there to meet Jen, but that will happen someday in the future! Seriously, how lucky am I? Thanks again, bubs – I love you!
As mentioned above, our friend Sunny came for a visit in February! Sunny was on the tour with me before Matt started and stayed on ‘til the very end. He has been doing more traveling since then, stopping in Australia for awhile before heading to new adventures, so he stayed with us and shared stories, made recommendations on places to visit, and helped us claim first place at trivia! It was only fair he got to help spend the winnings, so we all (with Samara) went out for dinner one night which was a nice break from cooking.
Two weekends ago we had a beautiful drive up to the Sunshine Coast, stopping along the way to visit such infamous tourist destinations as “The Big Pineapple” (closed for good or renovation?), the Buderim Ginger Factory where we also learned about honey bees (AMAZING visit – highly recommended!), Eumundi Markets, Bli Bli Castle, and a failed trip to Nostalgia World (it’s closed down for good – we couldn’t even find the spot where it used to be!). After a night of a few beers and people watching, we met up with some friends and had an hours-long brunch, which was extremely relaxing and a great time catching up! On our way home the ride was scorching, so we found a private water hole and went for a float before I was dropped off at the airport to fly to New Zealand.
That’s right – Kiwilandia! I stayed with friends Jason and Jordanna in Auckland (well away from Christchurch, so we didn’t feel the earthquake) and explored the area for a few days. Because I needed to leave Oz for my work visa to be granted (or denied – thank goodness that wasn’t the case!), Matt and I tried to think of somewhere cheap and close to visit. While we wanted to take a mini holiday to Fiji, it wasn’t economically feasible, so New Zealand it was! Auckland is a beautiful city, and tour guides J & J showed me the beaches, lakes, volcanoes and everything in between! I visited the Auckland CBD, the Auckland Museum, Piha beach, Rangitoto, Takapuna beach and so much more! I can’t wait to take Matt there for a visit – there’s so much to see and do, the climate is wonderful and the people are quite friendly and helpful! And J & J were WONDERFUL hosts, giving me tiki tours all around! It was also great to see Paul, another old friend from my very first Tucan trip – wow! We had the chance to catch up and reminisce which was a bonus to the NZ visit. So not only was the trip a wonderful little holiday, but I did indeed get my work visa granted and returned to Australia with the ability to legally work for the next 12 months.
I think one of the biggest “adventures” I recently had was just what I said above….. WORKING! One of Matt’s work colleagues offered me a position in his company back in December, but since I didn’t yet have my work visa we had to wait. True to his word, as soon as I got my visa authorized while in NZ, he offered me the job to start on Monday! Excited and nervous, Matt drove me to the office last Monday for my first day at work! I knew the job would be corporate and pay well and that I probably wouldn’t love it (this is before I even went into the office) but decided I could do anything for a couple of months to earn some money. Well call me spoiled and selfish, but I was wrong. For five days I woke up at 5am (which, if you know me at all, is not my ideal rise-and-shine hour), caught a train to commute 1 ½ hours into Brisbane City to sit at a desk and print and staple papers from 7:30am until 4:30pm, when I would catch a train for the 1 ½ hour commute home, arriving at 6pm. The job wasn’t my cup of tea, as there was hardly any interaction with anyone aside from the 4 people in my “cubicle” area, and I just felt bored. Not only that, but I didn’t come 9,000 miles to live my life with Matt and Samara just to work all the time and never see either of them! I missed taking Samara to childcare and her swimming lesson, and I hated being apart from Matt for so long during the days (luckily he picked me up and dropped me off a few times!). I know it sounds really spoiled of me, and I know that people make those sacrifices to themselves and their families every single day, but I’m not one of those people. I feel like life is too short to spend 13 hours a day doing something you don’t like is ridiculous, and I’d rather make less money and be happy.
This morning I started doing just that! I updated my resume to send out to cafes and travel agencies; have started looking at online postings; and I also made a flier advertising Spanish lessons, interpreting and translation. Ultimately that’s what I want to do: be self-employed so I can still travel with Matt when he goes interstate for business and stay home on days we have Samara, make my own hours and SPEAK SPANISH. I want to interact with people, make new friends, spend quality time with Matt and do what I love! He has been extremely supportive and encouraging of me pursuing this course of action, so today I’ve been working hard to see what job vacancies are nearby and how I can fill one of them! That way the Spanish can be on the side if it doesn’t take off right away. I’ve also looked into local Interpreting and Translating companies as well as different tourist offices and parks, like the local Sea World. I feel good, I feel inspired, and I feel confident that something will fall into place! I also hope to get on stage again sometime (probably after the Africa trip), which won’t be very lucrative but should be fun – especially if Matt gets back into theatre, too!
Once I start earning some money, Matt and I have plans to pursue other dreams of ours, including selling kids tshirts (of my dad’s designs), perhaps trying to market a product idea I came up with and saving up so we can start our own business somewhere down the line to be able to keep traveling and exploring the world! Oh yeah, and we’re playing Lotto – every little bit helps, right?!
Queensland has been hit by massive flooding in early Jan and then Cyclone Yasi in early Feb – poor state can’t catch a break! Regardless, I’m loving my time here! We have been swimming a lot with Samara, who has improved so much over the past few weeks that she’s like a new kid, going underwater and swimming between Matt and I; jumping in fearlessly and never wanting to get out, even when it gets cold! We’ve also been taking her to gymnastics classes (so adorable) and spending a lot of quality time as a family. I fall more in love with our family (including hairy Buddha) and with Matt every single day!
My next goal for the day? Planting the basil we bought at the fruit and veg market yesterday. Living in a unit means we don’t really have our own yard, but I’m determined to find somewhere that’ll work! Cross your fingers – I’m not really sure if I have a green thumb or not!
Have a great day everyone!
Much love and many hugs,