I think I've poisoned myself. Ow. I'm dying.

Trip Start Jan 15, 2008
Trip End Feb 03, 2008

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Australia Day, January 26, 2008
Today has been wonderful- it even is now, despite the fact that I have given myself a stomach ulcer. We woke up this morning in our lovely day use only camping area to be surrounded and taken over by waspish-horsefly bug things that swarmed us. I can see why they did. We were pretty stinky and hadn't washed our bodies in four days. We had our first leisurely morning- reading our books and drinking coffee. Then the sun came out. When the sun comes out, the beast flies begin their attack. This happened when we were eating our first hot cooked breakfast. After we ate, Lauren and Krissy struggled to put up the tent while I swatted myself with rags trying to do dishes in the ocean. Then, we hopped in the van and got the fuck out of there. Today I rode in the back of Bethan (our van). There is no seat back there so my body takes all the abuse of the bumpy, swervy dirt roads. Within the first 30 seconds, I must have killed a dozen of those buzzing buggers. I sounded like a warrior, charging for my life. Oh the sounds that came out of me. My voice cracking with frustration, my hands shaking in rage as I viciously swatted them till they fell to their ends.
We pulled into the local Strahan beach to dump our rubbish, only to arrive right on time for the hicked out Australia Day festivities. Giant sausages and meat pies everywhere, children with hair died and faces painted, teens lined up to do three legged races and the whole shebang. All we wanted was a shower. Just to be clean. Is that a lot to ask? The beach was way too packed to pull what we did with our last public beach shower. Last time we gathered around a freezing cold outdoor shower, got naked and alternated between holding the tarp for the showerer. This incredible invention would fail at this beach... way too many people around. So we pulled outta there with not much direction for the day, only hoping we found find a shower at some point.

The previous day I met a lovely older couple in Gowrie Park that was camping with their two young kids. The man gave me some great advice about places we had to see and things we had to do so we were first led to Nelson Falls. A short 20 minute return walk to slow falling, high waterfalls. There was nobody there but us and it was so beautiful. Then we went on to do a bushwalk to Donaghy's Lookout in a National Park. We saw the Franklin River and the mesmerizing white- quart size dome of Frenchman's Cap. Now we really needed a shower. We were sticky and sweaty and stinky and visibly dirty. Our only solution was to pull into a caravan park and use their facilities, something we haven't done yet but then we saw that there was an entrance to the Lake St. Clair National Park so we went in there to scope it out. It was the head office of the park and it was a gorgeous chalet. We were able to buy tokens for a shower. I bought two tokens for six dollars, which gave me 12 minutes in an incredible shockingly warm shower. I came out feeling like a whole new person. It was nearing 7 and we hadn't eaten dinner or found a campsite yet. We would have had to pay in the National Park and we just refused to settle for that. There is plenty of land to go around so why we would pay to sleep on it? Just a little side note- we did not pay for a site or campground once while in Tasmania and we camped for 11 nights. We were pretty good about finding sites and getting set up to cook dinner but tonight the shower was the priority.

We drove down the road, out of the park to the Wombat Café, which was open an hour earlier but with our luck were closed by the time we got there. So we continued along the road with no listed campsites or food stops on our map until out of the blue popped a sign to Bronte Park, only 4 km's away off the highway. There was even a sign that had a restaurant on it. We hadn't eaten out since camping and we were now on night nine so all it took was for the three of us to look at each other and we RAN into the restaurant. Remember now, it was Australia Day, so the entire town of about 40 people were gathered and wasted at this hotel/pub/bar. Everyone knew each other and knew that we were from elsewhere. We were out of place instantly but the drunkards swarmed us and asked us a million questions. They were mostly men between the ages of 35-65 who all looked older than they were because of their lifestyles spent out in the sun farming and drinking. We got to talking to these men and they were all very nice but extremely sheltered from the rest of the world. Shane, a 36 year old man was born and raised in Tasmania and has never even left it, not even to go to the mainland.  Two men, Lyell and Roger promised to show us a great camping spot. We hadn't thought about where to sleep, we were just so excited about food so we were thrilled that they could help us out and we wouldn't have to worry. Surprisingly we weren't sketched out at all. We somehow trusted them and could sense that they meant well. They were so excited that we had come to their land that they just wanted to help as much as they could. They wanted to show off their playground. Allow us to experience waking up and roaming free in their acres and acres of farmland amongst the cows and sheep.

At the restaurant I ordered the chicken Kiev with a side of mushroom sauce. Mmmmm. Doesn't that sound great... mushroom sauce. It came in a LARGE saucepan and I couldn't believe how generous they were with it, considering the small piece of chicken they gave me. Like, "would you like some chicken with that mushroom sauce?" I loved the mushroom sauce so much that I went a little crazy... dipping fries in it, garlic bread, even my chicken that it came with and before I knew it, I had consumed the entire saucepan! Mushroom sauce is basically a demi- glace or a chicken Marsala sauce minus the wine, or to put it a more disgusting way it is gravy with fried mushrooms. I, Elana Levitan ate a bowl of gravy without even realizing it. I was distracted talking to these men. I had no control over my mushroom sauce intake. It was all so goooood, so hot, so salty, and so GONE, in my stomach to kill me. It took close to ten minutes for me to start feeling my body failing... my healthy, exercised organs beginning to reject the lard that I had poisoned them with. It was time to drive off to this campsite because it was starting to get dark, which meant I had to get back into the boot of Bethan. The moment the door opened, I slid into the back and fell over into the fetal position. This was the spot where my system would fail me. Where I would die. I unbuttoned my pants hoping it would help. No luck. I wasn't that full, I was just in pain. In agony. I couldn't really breathe. I had to take short, hollow breaths to avoid the burning sensation I had in my left rib. My stomach was pinching and I was getting nauseous because the car was vibrating and bouncing up and down, side to side on the gravel, pot holed dirt road. This might be the last thing I see. A partially obstructed vision of the clouds and the sky getting darker. The smell of the dusty roads entering the windows and making me cough. I am dying in the back and the girls in the front have no idea how horrible I feel.
After 20 minutes of suffering, we arrived in this baron valley, completely isolated from any civilization whatsoever. Have they brought us here to kill us? Disturbing thoughts race through my mind but this isn't how I'm going to die anyways. I have already gone through the worst and soon it will be over. For some reason we trusted these men but really, they could have done anything they wanted. Obviously our intuitions were right and they led us to one of our favorite spots. They said they would come and check up on us in the morning and that we were welcome to stay as long as we wanted. They stayed and had a drink and then set off back to the pub to continue celebrating Australia Day. I told the girls about my mushroom sauce attack and we had a good laugh. The pains all went away once a little gas was passed. We chilled out under the stars, looking at constellations we had never seen before. The wind whistling at a rapid pace. Then, a car with one headlight pulled in where we were sitting. Now, this could be a problem. If Roger and Lyell know where we are and they are harmless, everybody else in the town is going to know where we are. I was really scared. My heart was racing. A farmer stepped out of the car and he was someone I recognized from the pub. My heart got better. It turns out; he owned the land that we were sleeping on along with the 300 cows and 20,000 sheep. He just wanted to welcome us to it. I could tell right away that he was very lonely because he awkwardly stood around with a beer for a lot longer than we anticipated. He just wanted company. We learnt a bit about him as well. Again, another man who has never left Australia. He left after about a half an hour to go and watch for this famous 4 who live in Bronte Park and have stolen his cows. This is the kind of place we stumbled upon in a desperate search for food. It was another typical day, being led to have funny and completely unexpected experiences.
Here is a portion of a silly song that the three of us tried to write over a fire and lots of wine.
Time is stressful.
Take me there.
Get me to a picnic table so I can set up my life.
Compare this existence to where I lived at home,
Now I ain't got no walls but I am free to roam.
So show me mountains and them cowed filled hills
On the quest for the best beach we will get our fill.
O Bethan- WOW, WOW hold a minute,
Its our life, got everything we own in it.
Drive on Bethan, drive on
Take us to the place where we belong
But no, no Bethan, don't sleep past dawn
You're our feet and we gotta be moving on.
Mornings filled with flies and lies,
Pack up, eat and poop seems to define our lives
Until the next land that our Canadian souls will conquer
We'll hold onto the highs and continue to wander.

In Tasmania, we covered close to 1600 km's in 14 days of traveling. We drove all up the entire east coast, through the middle up north and over to the west. On the east coast, we stayed on a beach everynight and on the west we were in the mountains but always by a river, creek or stream. We visited a wildlife park where I touched and held koala's and wombats. The tasmanian devils were really disapointing. They were ugly little scavangers. We visited the Marakoopa caves and did countless nature walks in National Parks. Five out of eleven nights we had fires. We all got along great and it was my first time meeting Lauren's girlfriend Krissy who is really easygoing. Now they have gone off together to Auckland, NZ to try to find work and we will meet again once I get there. We will all be reunited and continue our journey together in Thailand on March 29. Now I am in Sydney and I'm travelling alone for the next 3 weeks in Australia. I've been staying with my friend Ada from my exchange and tonight I'm going over to Roxy's, another Greensboro connection. I honeslty don't know what I would do if I didn' have these friends all over the place who I met in the U.S. It is so helpfull and fun! Every minute I am gratefull.
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