Subject: What a Wonderful Week!
Date: Sat, 16 Nov 2002 10:21:01 +0000
From: "-= Audacious Adventurer Al =- "

November 18, 2002 . . . Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
(It's RAINING HERE AGAIN TODAY in sunny Brisbane! I think it was crap when my volunteer HQ said it rained here only 6 times in the last 11 months)

I'm back! Did you miss me? I'm certainly missing a lot of you guys because I've been overwhelmed with personal emails. You know, I believe in karma... do you know the song by the New Radicals, 'You Get What You Give?' I love that song. Last week when I was running on the isolated beaches of Bundjalung National Park I was screaming it at the top of my lungs! My batteries died in the middle of the song, but I just kept at it:

'Don't give up - you gotta reason to live - one dance left - we only get what we give - this whole da$n world can fall apart - it'll be okay - follow your heart - your in harms way - I'm right behind - just say your mine(???) - YOU GOT THE MUSIC IN YOU - This world is gonna pull through - don't give up - you gotta a reason to live - can't forget - WE ONLY GET WHAT WE GIVE'

Ahem... now that I got all that out of my system, let me give you the rundown on my fabulous week in Australia. Are you excited? I am! Despite all the not-so-rosy crap that's going on in the world right now which I could write about, I'm going to put it aside for some of what I believe is my fun quality prattle.

The Sassy Six
Week #2 washed away some of the ebb of my nature volunteer group: we lost two of our goof troop. Belgian Manoelle had to go home because grandma died and Scottish Bob was the unlucky guy that had his name drawn out of a hat (only 6 people could return to the Bundjalung rainforest project) that had to remain in Bryon Bay pulling weeds all week. Thus, the sassy six of us: ANZAC cookie Allen, Belgian Pascale, Korean Bob, Korean Man, British Sally and Korean Annie headed back south to Bundjalung National Park with team leader Dave.

Upon arrival in the little town of Iluka, next to Bundjalung Nat. Park, we were a little bummed losing two valuable members of our team. Nonetheless, we immediately arrived at Iluka elementary school to partake in a taekwondo demonstration. My Korean sports massage and taekwondo expert friend Man agreed to give a taekwando demonstration to the school kids the previous Friday. Thus, I was up really late on Sunday night with Korean Bob and Man helping them get their English right for the demonstration on Monday. Here we were - it was showtime!

Getting My A$$ Kicked
Well, let's just say my part in the demonstration was getting my a$$ kicked. You see, I had to attack Man while he demonstrated self defense moves on me. I was smacked to the ground six times as the kids laughed at all the silly faces I was making. Despite all those silly faces, I was really hurting on the inside. You know, Man could be a killing machine. He's a fourth degree black belt and is one degree below master. I was covered with dirt from flopping hard on the ground each time he decked me for the kids. Ah, what I'll do to entertain the kids! Interestingly, some young ambassadors of the elementary school presented Man, Bob, and I honorary school pins after the presentation. To my surprise, ALL the kids in the school lined up to get our autographs. There was a huge line! I must've wrote my signature 100 times. That was more painful than getting my butt repeatedly whomped on the ground! You know, even this brief stardom made me realize I'd hate to be a celebrity.

Pure Boasting
I'm sorry, but if you don't want to read my boasting, skip this paragraph. I've been in the newspaper now THREE times in Australia. The week #1 of CVA (Conservation Volunteers Australia) my group nominated smiley me to be the feature CVA representative in the newspaper teaching a little boy, Connor, how to plant a tree. During week #2 I was in the paper with two other volunteers extracting seeds. Now, during week #3 I will be in the newspaper getting my butt kicked at the local elementary school! How about that? This once little scrawny guy who grew up in the slums of Kensington, Philadelphia is now making the press in Australia! As Steve Irwin (Croc Hunter) says, 'By crickey mate!'

Volunteers in Vogue
My volunteer job has really become what I hoped it would be. Once again, I am truly believe I am getting the Australia experience that most backpackers DO NOT. You see, my group gets along so well, that the locals near Bundjalung National Park have really taking a liking for us.

On Wednesday night my team and I went out for darts night at the Iluka local golf club. I must say that I met a lot of cool Aussies there that I got along well with. However, when I started kicking butt at darts (yes LOU - you read that right), they wanted to cancel my visitor visa!

I don't know what happened to me Wednesday night, but those darts were just magnetized to where I wanted them to land. Interestingly, I am not very good at darts. Aussie Ron and I needed a double 12 to win the round and I hit it at my first go! Later that night, another Aussie gave me proper dart throwing lessons. He told me that although I was hitting a lot of bulleyes, it was just dumb luck. Thus, I hope someday I can take this new insight into my dart game to beat you Lou and any other formidable (or crazy enough)

Aussie Clyde was another character that took a liking for our volunteer team and took us out SURFING. Yes, I was the diehard surfer out there for three hours. I didn't stand up once on my way too advanced surfboard, yet I caught three waves that pulled me in on my stomach.

Let me tell you about surfing for many of you Philadelphians who have never tried it. Surfing is hard as $ell. There's so many things you have to master that it's no wonder it took man 2,000 years to master it. You have to get your balance on the board, paddle properly, smash through all the bad waves to hold your course, detect and catch the right kind of wave, stand up on the board with balance, and then finally ride the wave.

After three hours of what ended in total exhaustion, I drank a lot of salt water smashing through the crappy waves waiting for good ones to pull me into shore. No matter how difficult it was to catch a wave, those three that pulled me in were a good rush. However, the rush wasn't nearly as good as BUNGEE! YEAH!

All right, boasting again for a second, I have to tell you something that I think is cool. I am actually doing something good for the earth. I AM RESTORING NATURAL RAINFOREST. How many people can say in their lives that they devoted time to restoring our dwindling rainforests? It feels good to do something decent for Mother Earth.

Essentially, I'm picking native seeds, eliminating non-native plants that have no natural predators that are destroying rainforests. Furthermore, I’m extracting seeds from shells that will be flown by airplane to replenish lands charred by bush fires with seeds I am collecting. How noble is that?

Goodbye Bundjalung
After two weeks of good times helping rainforests near miles of endless pure beaches, I'm back in crap Brisbane feeling pessimistic about next week’s inner city project. They split my cool team in half, but we're trying to rectify that as I type.

Kay, another retired local conservationist was taken in by my team and was sad to see my team say goodbye. On Friday the 15th (isn't that lucky?) she bought us fresh shrimp, Coke, french fries, and fruit and summer fruits with ice cream for a final picnic horrah! As the eight of us sat around the table near all that seeds we processed by hand, I felt a moment of pure peace. Our work accomplished, our team being so wonderfully close, and the kindness of the Aussie woman totally inspired that special feeling that is so hard to come by. Have you ever felt that inner peace and serenity? Ahh, it was great!

Closing Thoughts
Wow! I had a lot to write this week. I got so many nice emails and experienced so many wonderful places, people, and situations this week that I've been super inspired to write.

Have a peaceful week :)

Serenity isn't freedom from the storm, but peace within the storm.
You've got a friend in . . .
| Allen Rue - travelling extraordinaire - joy seeker   |