24.11.2014 - 27.11.2014 33 °C
Well, I said goodbye to Al and Lydia, and beehives and chooks, and this week I'm doing some woodwork relating to cyclone recovery near Proserpine, Queensland. A couple of cyclones roared through Mike and Tanya's property last year, and this means a lot of land-clearing and repairs.
This basically means I get to stomp around a small wood using gigantic saws and an angle grinder - an actual power tool, complete with a universal token of masculinity, luminous orange protective ear muffs. If that doesn't sound macho enough, picture me attempting to haul a log up a hill using a length of rope. I think it makes a stirring image, don't you agree?
Once again, I found Mike and Tanya through HelpX, which more people should know about – especially travellers trying to get their 2nd year visa. Food and accommodation are expensive in Oz, and paid fruit-picking and farmwork is often a lot of sweat for few dollars. HelpX allows you to volunteer your time and effort and live and work with people who'll treat you like human beings, involve you in their lives, tell you the best places to visit and provide you with food and board.
Mike's a British expat; Tanya's from Ukraine. Among other things they run a spa business, and live at the top of hill in a house Mike built himself. In what Mike says is a heat wave, everything lacks the colour it should have, but to my eyes the slope fits the review of a previous Helper as 'paradise': stone paths zigzagging through a forest of trees that drip orange and red petals and unripe fruit, from bananas to mangos, between which the clouds clump under the sunset like blue mountains. Rich and I live in white-walled cabin that feels like a luxurious hotel room, but through our window in the mornings there might be wallabies to join the steady stream of geckos.
The worst thing is the heat, the relentless humidity... but Mike's answer is a swimming pool. If we get too hot we can have a dunk. Rain clattered down today, and Mike kept making happy noises. The cane toads hopped out to celebrate.
Mike left the UK when he was 26. He doesn't regret it; he explained how “no one could understand how it is here” when he went back for a visit, this man sitting in the sun by his pool in a house he built on a hill, a little Eden around him. He remembers wet and struggle and cold. But I smile politely, and still remember home.