I lost my ability to write (obviously) as it has been a friggen long time since I’ve posted. I don’t have a fancy excuse. Only that life has been happening and I couldn’t sit in front of a computer.
I’m gonna recap the last year of my life’s adventures, but condensed. Otherwise we’ll be here for days.
The amazing continent of Australia welcomed me with burning sunrays and danger signs of death posted everywhere. Unlike most of my adventures, I came away from my journey totally unharmed albeit a few emotional scars from rescuing animals. Story of my life.
My father was working on a massive natural gas project in Gladstone, somewhere in Queensland. I spent a month with my parents in a 2-bedroom apartment (yay!) with fellow expat neighbors. Champagne brunches became a regular as did rescuing wildlife.
My mom was volunteering at Safe Haven, which is a farm house/animal sanctuary/breeding ground. They breed wombats and Nail-tailed wallabies, both which are endangered. What the hell is a wombat and wallaby you say. They are incredibly cute (wallabies) and slightly vicious (wombats). To make a long story short, humans are encroaching on their territory, hunting them, poisoning them and hitting them with cars. Thus, some native animals of Oz are in a dire situation. I was lucky enough to scoop wombat shit in the blazing sun.
I got to ride along with Wiggles on her trip to the dentist. And yes, she scared me a bit popping out of her box. One evening I was saying good night to the wombats and one lad was following me, so I started to jog back and forth as he chased me (from behind the chain link fence). I asked Pete, the father of Safe Haven, if the furry guy was playing or wanted to eat me. Pete said he wanted to eat me. Well, at least I gave him some exercise.
Mom and I went searching for emeralds in the town of Emerald. Actually, she sifted rocks and I drank beer and complained about the heat. I was getting something out of the car and felt something sting me. I slapped the hell out of my back until I realized it was the zipper on my shirt. The fucking zipper was like fire on my skin after nanoseconds of being exposed to the sun. That my friends is Australia. On our way back home, we stopped to pick up a couple of kangaroo and wallaroo joeys from a woman that asked for help. Turns out she was an animal hoarder and we ended up taking 8 joeys- red and gray kangaroos and Harriet the wallaroo. Roos aren’t the same by any means- wallaroos are mini kangaroos and red roos like to kiss. About a quarter into the journey home, one little guy was kicking like crazy inside his pillow case (later named Dexter). Pillow cases are how they travel as they should be curled up and secure. Yet another life lesson.
So, I held a little red roo on my lap for about 4 hours. Needless to say, it was an incredible experience to comfort a furry creature I had only seen in photos. All roo/wallaby joeys were placed in rehab care and were released back into nature if they were able to adapt. Tail strength and strong hind legs are their means of survival so if they can’t hop properly then they stay within safe confines. It was an experience that words can’t do justice.
The highlight of my time with the lovely family of Safe Haven was Phoenix the koala. Phoenix climbed a railroad pole and was electrocuted. Safe Haven took her in and rehabilitated her until she was ready to go back into the wild. The factors in releasing her were based on how much poo she dropped, muscle mass (hard to measure) and ability to eat eucalyptus. And yes, I got to count poo!! My experience in Oz was full of shit and I loved it. Once her burns were healed and her poo was up to par, there was a harrowing trapping of her by Pete before sunrise. We drove for hours to find the right forest with enough eucalyptus trees. Once we found a place, the moment of truth came. Tina (Pete’s partner and the queen of Safe Haven) was worried Phoenix didn’t have enough muscle to climb a tree. My mom, Tina and I sat on a bird shit covered bench and watched Pete open the cage at the base of a tree. Phoenix climbed the tree like her ass was on fire then stopped about a quarter of the way up the ginormous tree (I’m not good with math; it was a lotta feet/meters up), looked at us, then continued to climb into the leaves. Tina looked at me and said, this is what it is all about. Rescue, rehab and return. It was a beautiful moment when time stopped as we watched Phoenix camouflage herself among the eucalyptus leaves and we strained our necks to keep sight of her.
On to Barcelona I went. I met my darling Brazilian friend Carlos, whom I fell in love with in Turkey (totally platonic). I spent a whirlwind of about 3 days with him in the city of Gaudi, delicious wine and paella. I don’t remember much, so I’ll continue on.
Berlin is a city I love to visit for many reasons, but basically I go to see amazing friends, eat yummy food and photograph graffiti. This year I met my Ugandan hooligans Mugagga and Burney there. They are 2 people that have gotten me in trouble, gotten me out of trouble and called me on my shit every time. They are part of my foundation and really precious creatures. We ran amuck in Berlin. Amuck.
The universe brought me together with 2 friends from high school that I hadn’t seen in over 15 years. In the lovely city of Bucharest, we drank, ate, and talked about everything and nothing. We went to Vama Veche, a pleasant little burg on the Black Sea. All I can say is that it is a miracle we all made it back to the hotel room every night.
While I was in Romania, there was an attempted coup in Turkey. As I have lived in Turkey for the past 7 years and was working at the military academy at the time, shit hit the fan for this little American girl. The air space was closed for a couple days, which disrupted tons of flights connecting through Istanbul. It took me umpteenth hours to get back to Ankara, and when I walked through baggage claim I was amazed at the hundreds of bags waiting to be claimed by passengers that never arrived. It was an incredible sight that reminded me to always put a clean pair of underwear and a toothbrush in my carry-on.
Life continues with laughter and the hope that summer will eventually come…