Today I had a good think down by the Darwin waterfront, which is not a terribly impressive place but it is one that was quiet. In fact, I wasn’t by the part of the waterfront that is frequented, the Wave Lagoon or tiny sectioned off beach area, surrounded by little restaurants and chatchki shops. I was on a lovely little footpath that honored women of Darwin. This footpath led to The Deckchair, an open air movie theater that is closed, understandably, for the wet season. Behind that, though, is a border of large rocks, beyond which is water. Again, not a pretty beach or anything, but it was quiet and only a few straggling wanderers like myself were around.
I pondered, looking out at the water, beyond the murky and littered mudflats closest to me. I’ve been feeling restless, which most likely has to do with the fact that I’ve been sick and lacking in energy. But this restlessness made me want to stop and think, and here’s what I came up with.
First, I’m ready to leave Australia. For whatever reasons, it just hasn’t struck me like other countries I’ve visited. Perhaps it’s just that I’m ready to go back to “foreign” places; or that I am tiring of travel; or that this cold thing has drained me for long enough that I couldn’t enjoy anyplace. I know the cost of things has kept my mood down a bit, especially here in Darwin. Doing a guided trip to Kakadu National Park, the “must-see” here, would be slightly less than $200 AUD per day. I just can’t make myself spend that. I did splurge for a one day tour to Lichfield, though, which will hopefully be worth the $120. That will be how I spend my last day in Australia!
The one experience I’ve thoroughly enjoyed in Darwin was a visit to a local art gallery. The owner came to talk to me about the Aboriginal art he was showing and selling, which was primarily northern and central Australian tribe artwork. He professed himself to be a lover of Aboriginal art and told me about his history with it: growing up an area where he could mix freely with Aboriginals; choosing to remain there when the rest of his family moved away, at age 17; and learning about traditions and beliefs and thought patterns. He showed me how he saw some of the art on his walls, how they reflected ceremonies he’d seen, or how lines were used a specific way. There were downsides to his spiel as well, including how awful his competitors were compared to him and a rather unsatisfactory response, given his history, to my question of why no Aboriginals seemed to own or work in any of the galleries. I’ve been to several and they’re all owned by white people, possibly well-intentioned and doing good for the community, but absolutely no Aboriginals in sight. It was a great learning experience, however, and I felt like I got a tiny glimpse into some of the meanings and representations of the Aboriginal art shown in this guy’s shop.
The second subject with which I racked my brain was my future. No, I wasn’t worrying or fretting about it. But coming across various cultures and universal world issues – poverty, natural disasters, unequal living/working conditions for those of various degrees of society or background – has made me realize that I want to be involved in helping, somehow. I know that I need more education on a variety of issues. And I need to determine my own stance and opinions on many things as well. On the other hand, I know that the next thing I would like to do with myself is to help people. Today, at least, the idea that most appealed was to learn to be part of an emergency response team. You know, like organizations that go out and help at natural disaster sites. I am good at organizing and leading and physical work. I think that this would be ideal for me. I just don’t know how, exactly, to get started.
It’s funny how timing works out. Just the other night, I was talking to a dorm-mate from England, and she thought I should check with the Red Cross and see what job opportunities they would have for me. Duh! That’s a simple answer, isn’t it? Another idea we talked about was perhaps teaching English somewhere that I would also like to volunteer. Somewhere like Cambodia, where I could probably find many places to volunteer (orphanages, NGOs, etc) and where I know I could teach English as well. As a side note, later that night our room was broken into and the English girl’s bags were stolen. I spent three hours helping her figure out how to handle it, from going to the police, reviewing the backpacker’s video footage, canceling her credit cards and figuring out how to get cash to sustain her. Talk about emergency response!
And the third thing that I philosophized upon this afternoon was whether I was tired of traveling. Can’t say I came up with an answer, really, but in general, I think not. It’s just time to move on and change my surroundings. I’m really looking forward to Bali, where I have a Couchsurfer ready to host me for my first few days. It struck me that I haven’t taken many pictures in the last week or so… none in Darwin, although my Lichfield trip tomorrow should change that. Also, my dirty laundry bag is getting bigger than my clean clothes bag. Lastly, and perhaps most telling, I’ve finished the last part of one book along with two other (notably easy reading) books, in the last four days. I’m experiencing the mid-year-travel weariness, all right!
Before writing this blog entry, I double-checked my next several flight bookings. So I can’t be too tired of travel, because I’m looking forward to what’s next: Bali, Singapore and Nepal! I also spent some time reading e-mails from some good friends, which were wonderful to get. Sometimes hearing the news in other people’s lives is a good way to relax and get away from my current situation, whether it’s good, bad or indifferent. So keep the e-mails coming, people! I want to hear from YOU!