Pork Crackling and Chicken Fajitas

24 days! Four times six, two times twelve, eight times three. Or the number of days I have left in Australia if you prefer; a number that is running out at a pace I can’t begin to describe which is both brilliant and terrible. Brilliant because I damn well miss everyone at home and terrible because I don’t want this wonderful adventure to end, but end it but I digress from past events so lets take a look back.

I left you having stepped from the magical world of the Whitsundays back into reality which leaves me in Airlie Beach, I woke up the next morning to check out of the hostel before ten. Before leaving I headed to the kitchen to grab my food from the fridge to find someone had gone through my bag and pilfered my potatoes; how scruffy do you have to be to steal someone’s potatoes? People.

After checking out I was presented with the prospect of entertaining myself in Airlie Beach for 12 hours until my 11pm overnight bus down to the weirdly named 1770, so to begin with I head over to Peterpans, threw my luggage into storage and whiled away a couple of hours on the internet, uploading a shit tonne of pics and the videos from the bungee jumping!

A Subway for lunch followed before a wander down to the lagoon where I whiled away a few hours talking first listening to a couple of Irish girls telling their lewd stories and then chatting away with them for awhile. After getting bored with the lagoon I headed back to Peterpans, to get my luggage out of storage before the 5pm deadline, which seemed a little weird considering they stayed open until 8pm, which is when I stayed on the internet until, beocming completely caught up on the NFL preseason and recent developments with my beloved Kentucky Wildcats; nice to see us grabbing a few more commitments on the football side of things.

Kicking out time came and I found myself with still another three hours to while away; my first move was to take in my second Subway of the day, I then headed to my backpackers to while away some time sitting on the couch with my book; the thankfully finished today “Anglomania”, a sometimes infuriating title that surrounded some rather interesting stuff with an air of overbearing pomposity that was hard to shake, very dry, very good at making you drowsy in parts.

After getting through a little of the book I decided to call my friend Cristiano back in Adelaide, to see exactly how much his Dad is sick of funding him yet and for a general catch up; we mocked each other heartily for an hour or so with me continually asking him the time so as not to miss my bus. At one point he says its 10:15 and my retarded head suddenly clicks that he’s in another time zone. I shit myself (thankfully not literally), check my phone and realise its 10:45 where I am; my bus is in ten minutes. FUCK.

I end the call posthaste, grab my bags and leg it to the bus stop, arriving a little before time and entirely relieved to see many more people stood waiting, I enquire breathlessly as to whether they are waiting for the Greyhound, upon hearing a yes my arsehole stops performing 50p/5p and I relax back to a normal state and call X back to apologise for the rather rude abrupt end to our call, he mocks me and I have to join him in clown shoe status; the shame.

I settle in for the next ten hours on the overnight bus down to 1770, I initially attempt to get through a few more pages of the dreaded book but the combination of its dryness, a less than entertaining chapter and the darkness results in my eyes slamming firmly shut and my spending the next ten hours drifting in and out of consciousness as the lights come on in various backwater destinations as people join and depart from the bus.

Bleary eyed and smelling like the back end of a badger I eventually arrived to 1770 and found the shuttle bus to the hostel, driven by a Geordie from Consett, pleasant to hear a familiar lilt to the old accent again. Upon my arrival I should have headed straight for the shower or bed but my stomach won the battle of wills and I headed into town to get some food and check out the beach.

Upon my return I went to prepare a cheesy beans potato, only to find that my cheese had suffered mightily on the overnight journey and gone mouldy in the process, a baked potato with baked beans simply wasn’t the same, tear tear. My stomach satiated it was time for a through wash in the shower, during this rather long affair I probably broke most if not all Australian water regulations; my since apologies but it was required.

After that I sat down and took in Role Models, which I had missed at the cinema, I had been told it wasn’t as good as the adverts promised it might be and it probably wasn’t but it was a pretty damn funny comedy that’s well worth watching.

I spent the rest of the day doing very little, as we sat around the TV someone else decided to put Role Models on again for the second time of the day; I loaded Champ Man 01/02 and proceeded to guide Middlesbrough to 13th in the Premier League; not bad.

I have to mention at the start of my second day because my brain isn’t functioning on top flight at this moment in time that my hostel; 1770 Southern Cross Backpackers is one of my favourites from the whole trip, we stayed in dorms named after countries, they had a large property to chill out on, hammocks; fantastic.

Thus we arrive at the second day of my stay there which began with pancakes for breakfast courtesy of John the Irish chef who also found himself residing in Denmark; bonus. After various pieces of banter and me taking on a few cookery tips a group of us decided that night would be an excellent occasion for a BBQ and a few beers, this I left in John’s hands with a request for him to let me know how much I owed him.

He settled on the idea of pork belly and chicken fajitas and I had no complaints on either of those scores. The afternoon meandered along, punctuated first by table tennis, where I couldn’t buy a win and then by a game of football in the blazing sun which demonstrated to a bunch of us that we have become both fat and lazy in Oz.

Finally afternoon became evening and it was time for the BBQ, I headed out to join John and was blown away with what we had, the pork belly was sizzling away with the crackling crisping up, nicely herbed chicken, a container of freshly prepared chermoula (sp?), a moroccan cold curry that was similar to salsa in my findings, freshly prepared guacamole, the same in enchilada sauce and sour cream. The girls had produced garlic mash, mayo and awesome burgers from the butchers. Once everything had finished being cooked to perfection we tucked in.

Everything was amazing but for me the pork crackling and the chermoula had to be the highlights; simply wow. I’ve taken John’s email to grab a few recipes and hopefully to pop in for a visit to the restaurant he works in on the way between Sydney and Canberra on my way to or from Canberra.

We sat around the bonfire, which I somehow hadn’t mentioned yet and nattered away witht the Scottish girls, we pushed people around in wheelbarrows, produced human pyramids and talked crap. The hostel would have been anguished to know we brought out a mattress to put on top of the mildly uncomfortable log to sit on, oops.

Everything drank and with the promise of early days the next morning everyone decided to retire to their beds. John, having drunk a rather large amount of vodka attempted to pen a love poem to the Scottish girls but gave up on finding he couldn’t come up with coherent sentences nevermind write them down on paper.

I settled in for a couple of hours kip before it was time to jump on the next Greyhound; down to Hervey Bay, which is where I find myself as I type this. The journey was probably the best yet, I managed to finally kill off Anglomania – I’m glad I read it as the content was eye opening but the delivery was painful, I’m glad its over, possibly an extremely mild version of the emotions of childbirth? I’m aware this is a supremely tenuous association but these are the weird links my brain makes.

From there I have eaten a Subway and started a book about Angkor Wat in Cambodia, which is mainly pictures; lovely and interesting. In other news the travel beard is going well; looking pretty damned scruffy by now and unattractive to 98.6% (estimated) of women the world over, good times.

That seems as good a point as any to sign off so I hope everyone’s well and smiling; until next time…

Love and Crackling

J. Xx


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