I am reluctantly thrust back into reality after a ripper week in Byron Bay.
#sorrynotsorry I don't have any photos in this post. Most of the cool things we did, it was impracticable to bring a phone and snap away. Also there's that thing about living your experiences rather than photographing them.
I did post many pictures of beer and food; these sitting down pics were at the times where I reflected on the good times I just had.
It was very much a week of letting shit go, and not giving a fuck. I had been fairly stressed prior to the trip with one thing or another, and am significantly less so now. A warm, subtropical, chilled-out beach town will do that to you.
I had been craving some time at the beach, and that craving was sated this holiday. Byron has some fabulous beaches, which I swam in daily. I showed off my bikini body - I have a body and I have a bikini, and I walked around in that bikini like a boss among the lithe 20 year old German backpackers.
We went sea kayaking on a glorious sunny day. There was a bit of "motion in the ocean" and mild seasickness ensued, however this was alleviated by seeing a pod of dolphins doing their dolphin thing, and getting up as close as 10 metres away. We had to retreat as the current towards the rocks was strong, but it was a very special experience. Kayaking with one's partner is a good bonding experience, if you can paddle without arguing too much that is a good sign.
I had known that Byron was a big surfie destination, and I was keen though a little scared to try. I had read all the reviews of the local surf schools saw that the newbie surfers had a blast. Hence I bit the bullet. The manageress of the B and B we stayed at suggested we went to a school called Style Surf, run by Gaz, who is something of a local institution. Hence we signed up. The next day, we got picked up and went to the beach. There were no waves. Gaz, calling the surf "piss poor", said that he wouldn't "steal our money" and sent us back home without charging us. We then went the next day, at a different location, and alas, there were waves.
We did some initial instruction on the sand. All good in theory - paddle, banana up, then get up really quickly into the appropriate standing position. Yep all good. In the water, however, it was a great deal harder.
Part of the issue is that I was a bit scared, the instructors sensed that. Mostly of the waves, of getting knocked over, of having a board whack me over the head, heck, of drowning. Or sharks. But mostly drowning.
I went out there, eyes toward the beach as instructed ("look down, fall down") and gave it my best crack. I stood up once for about a nanosecond, then went over. I fell over all the other times, into the drink. Some amazing acrobatics were performed into the water. Most of my energy was taken up dragging the board back out, and having the board whacked out of my hands by the waves repeatedly. I became comfortable with facing up to the big waves (only really a metre or so), with putting my head underwater, and with negotiating the currents.
I had a ripper time and after a couple of hours I was knackered. But I was proud of myself for giving it a crack and facing my fears and disregarding my ego. I will give it another go someday.
The other fantastic thing was meeting with all of the instructors, and learning that many of the stereotypes regarding surfies are true. You are addressed as "bro" (if you are a bloke) and "darlin" (if you are a blokette). They greet each other using the "ridgey didge", sign, which means "hang loose, bro". They are very funny and very friendly.
On the surfies' recommendation, we went out to the local pub that night, the more down at heel local one, ironically called the Railway hotel (there hasn't been a railway for some years). The drinks were cheap and cheerful, and the food was good and cheap. Best of all, there was a reggae band playing, which had everybody up on their feet, dancing, while the rain went down sideways outside. We met up with a few friendly travellers and had a whale of a night.
We did a bit of driving around the hinterland, and went to the cute little towns with the high-end stores and restaurants focussing on local produce.
We really did have a great time, and we will be back.
While I was having this good time, I let go of worrying about the future, if only for a little while. Some of the emails I sent out have been returned. We shall see where they head.