Tuesday, September 27, 2005


So Shannon (Gup) and I drive to the local golf course where is old man is playing a round and exchange his car for his dad's truck and cruise on up to Perth. We arrive at his mate's house and I'm introduced to Danny and his girl Mez. We crack open some beers while Gup and Dan exchange gifts. Gup gives Dan a footy beer cozy and in return gets a fullsize footy which Dan received with the beer purchase. Everyone is pumped for the game tomorrow. Some more of their friends show up and it becomes a party. Knowing the next day is going to be an extension of tonight I turn in shortly after the guests have left while I'm pretty sure Dan and Gup stayed up most of the night.

The next morning I wait until 11am before starting to drink. No, I haven't become an alcoholic it's just that the game starts at 12:30 so ya gotta start early. We wait for Dan's sis and her boyfriend to arrive with the tickets. Gup refuses to let me pay for mine. Cheers mate! They arrived with another couple and we walk some blocks down to Subiaco Stadium to mix it up with 43,000 other crazed Footy fans.

Decked out in a borrowed West Australia Eagles hat and scarf I look the part. Bought four beers for Gup and I and we all took our seats directly behind one of the goals. I really lucked out to be introduced to the game at such a special time for the local team. A great experience enhanced by the fact that they won the game. Much to the dismay of a few Adelaide fans who were sitting behind us taking and giving loads of shit as the game ebbed and flowed, all in good fun. Dan was constantly chastising Gup for using foul language, but he also couldn't help letting a few slip. The guys were all pretty well pissed and a one point a couple of old ladies in the row in front of us payed the price when Gup lost control of a beer and showered them with it. The rest of the afternoon, in his glee, Gup's utterances were pretty much limited to "We're in the Grand Final Mutha F*ckers!!!!" which he proclaimed to everyone whether or not they cared. Obviously stoked we went back to Dan's to continue the festivities. Poor Mez overextended herself trying to keep up with the boys and wound up paying the price and having to retire early.

On Sunday we awoke and Dan cooked up a big breakfast feast including tons of meat and sausages. Their eyes were bigger than their stomachs though and I confirmed that Gup really doesn't eat enough to keep a bird alive. Later they shuttled me about 15 minutes west down to Paul May's house in Scarborough. I had met Paul in Nice, France and kept in touch. Turns out he had a room to rent out so my timing was perfect and he agreed to let me the room for as long or short as I liked.

He showed me the room and gave me the tour of his comfy house with a great patio in a tropical plant setting complete with a hot tub. We took a 15 minute walk due west to the beach and had kebabs for lunch overlooking the Indian Ocean. There was a windblown but sizeable swell pumping thru so we sat on the beach for awhile and watched a surf contest. Later at the house I met Paul's girl Toni when she brought over some take out Thai food for us to chow down. Late that night I got to meet our other flatmate James just before turning in for the evening.

Woke up on Monday and the plan for the day was to locate a good used board and wetsuit. Went around to the four area shops which didn't have the greatest selection of boards, but I managed to find a 6'0" Channel Island in really good shape. After trying on the gambit of wetsuits I finally settled on a West 3/2mm Fullsuit. It was the only one of the lot which fit me perfectly and believe it or not it's a small! It also had the added benefit of being a local WA Oz suit. After all I can get a Rip Curl or Billabong anywhere.

I rode Paul's bike home with my new equipment, suited up and walked back down to the beach. It was a little smaller than yesterday, but still heavy, windblown, shifty and just a generally hard beach break to get a fix on. I kooked out pretty hard, but hey, at least I'm back in the water after a 7 month hiatus. That night we walked a few blocks down the neighborhood and Paul introduced me to Tanya and Hardo, his good mate from school. Hardo was pleased to show off his new Honda 1000cc twin rocket with the newly installed computer chip and aftermarket pipes which had just registered 125Hp on a dynometer. I later learned that it's a long drawn out process here to get a cycle license and in fact at the moment he is restricted to only 250cc. Hopefully he'll live to get his proper license.

In the morning I rode down to the beach to check the surf, but it didn't look worth the paddle so I took a ride a few miles north along the coast to the marina there and back. When Paul got home he invited me down to the Stamford Inn to join a co-worker for a couple of brews. So we had a few quiet rounds of Toohey's at the beach front Irish bar, but I'm told it's a really happening place Thursday thru Saturday.

The next morning the surf looked better so I paddled out. Still a bit windblown though and deceptively big. I was still kooking out but not as hard and managed to get some turns in on mostly close outs. The board seems to be working though, I just have to dial it in and knock off some more rust from being out of the water so long. That night James, a real Casanova, introduced me to one of his many girls. I'm thinking it will be good to hang with him so I'm happy to accept his invitation to go with him to a Salsa Club the following night where he has been taking lessons.

The morning next the surf was a little smaller, but finally glassy! The only problem was that I told Paul I'd stick around the house and wait for his new mattress to be delivered. So right after I took delivery I headed down again to the beach. Made all my waves, linked a few turns together, the board felt good and my paddling strength is noticeably improved also! Finally felt like I could actually surf again. I got home with just enough time to eat and shower before taking off to the Salsa Club/Studio with James.

I enrolled in the beginner class along with 6 ladies and 2 guys. We learned about the rhythm and timing along with 5 steps: Basic, Cucaracha, Exhibe, Atras and Enchufla. Gotta learn more though so I can partner up. Looks likes loads of fun and a great way to meet woman. It's kind of like speed dating since in the classes you are constantly rotating partners. Afterwards I wandered around the club which has a pool room, 6 different dancing rooms with various levels and kinds of Latin dancing going on and even an outdoor area with a live Samba band.

At the bar I decided to use my American accent advantage and chatted up a beautiful brunette who turned out to be from Switzerland and studying English here. But her and her two friends all spoke English very well so we had no problem communicating that we should head to the dance floor and check out the band. There James introduced me to more of his girl friends and we all got a good shaking going on. At one point the band all grabbed various drums and came down off stage to form a rocking samba drum circle which seemed like it would go forever, that is until the corps leader broke thru a drum head! Somehow we let the swiss get away, but there was no shortage of willing partners. Afterwards we went for Kebabs and Justinda was kind enough to give us massages which does wonders for ones digestion:)

The next day after riding to the beach I spent it mostly reading from Paul's library. Excerpts from Ghandi, Yoga thoughts by Swami Venkatesandanda and The Prophet by Kahil Gibran which is excellent. Later that night I walked down to check out weekend scene at the Stamford Inn and found a fairly packed house with a live cover band playing. The second song I heard was the Hoodoo Gurus bringing me right back to high school. Only in Oz. Shortly a woman named Jaqueline came up to me and asked "Are you wearing braces?" to which I replied "No, why?". "Well smile then. You have a beautiful smile". I never tried that one before! She introduced me to David, recently divorced and looking to get back in the game, as well as his sister. While dancing Jaqueline threw me once more asking " Are you gay?". "No, why do you ask?" " Cause the guy next to you is trying to pick you up!". Happily I was completely oblivious, but did mosie closer to her.

Saturday 24/9/05 Game Day!!
Super Bowl Saturday
for the AFL. Everyone is amped with high hopes for their team. Paul, Toni and I pick up some drinks and food for the barbi and drive inland past the city to the hills of Perth. We are the first to arrive and I meet Ghraham, his wife and their new baby boy. Then Tina's parents, as well as Vanessa and Justin (Tina's Bro), two other couples and Tanya with Hardo coming later from work. Before the game we each put in $2 and pick an Eagles player's name out of a hat. Whoever holds the name of the player who kicks the first goal for the Eagles wins the pot. Ghraham won. Rigged?!? :)

We are also supposed to drink everytime our player receives the ball and when they bounce it, but that really fell by the wayside as everyone was just super intent on watching the game. They cranked up the barbi at halftime and it was quickly covered with about 30lbs of steaks and sausages leaving little room for my veggie snitzels. So we chowed down hoping the Eagles could mount a comeback from the 39-19 deficit. They had a great third quarter and did make a comeback. The fourth quarter was close and it looked like they had them, but in the end after a tense quarter, even for me, they lost the game 58-54. Then came the mourning with Ghraham and Justin taking the hardest. Hardo took it very well considering he just lost $2000!! Afterwards we invited everyone back to our place to soak their sorrows away.

Sunday- Race Day!
James is sailing in the season opener "Cat Classice Regatta", but can't stick around for the afternoon race so he asked if I'd like to fill in for him. I told him I have almost no sailing experience, but he said it didn't matter. The skipper (another Paul) can't sail the boat alone so he will be stoked to have me aboard. The boat we're racing is a Tornado Catamaran which is the same boat they race in the Olympics and is often clocked at over 30knots usually while half out of the water at 45 degrees. So we all head to Swan River (Paul is also filling in as a crewmate) and arrive at Nedlands Yacht Club where the Tornado and Hobie Cat crews are rigging their boats up for a day of racing. It's a beautiful day, but little wind in the morning forces the early race to be scrubbed. However, in the afternoon the wind came up so Paul and James went out while I took James' car out to get some lunch. Your first drive on the left side of the road takes a bit of getting used to particularly when you have to shift the manual with your left hand.

Anyway, they wound up taking 2nd place in the race and then came back to the beach to switch James for me. I geared up and Paul gave me a crash (hopefully not an ominous term) course on sailing a Tornado. His domain are the rudders and the main sail. I'm in charge of making occasional adjustments to the jib as well as hoisting, lowering and keeping the spinaker (also known as the Kite) at optimum taughtness while heading downwind. Of course the boat is fastest when you get it out of the water on it's side so my other main role was to be the ballast by hooking in and trapeizing over the side. You just have to make doubly sure that you are indeed clipped in. I nearly made that mistake once as I became unclipped while going over the side!!

It's really quite a good overall workout, especially tough on the hands as you constantly are tugging on the control lines. We were in second place and had a great lead ahead of third until a motor boat towing two other boats (illegal) refused to yield (again illegal, where are the cops when you need one?!) and forced us off course. And then once while taking down the kite I got it caught under the boat which cost a lot of time. Paul took it all in stride though and we wound up taking 2nd place just by a nose. Good Fun!

Back on land we shared some beers and laughs and headed back home for a long spa and philosophising on life. We thought about going out since it was a public holiday the next day and people would have been out, but the in the end the futons just wouldn't ease their grip on us. I was just heading to bed when James arrived home after his concert with a party in tow. More beer, more hot tubbing....

And so it goes. Sorry I don't have more good pics. Particluarly the surf pics. With the digi camera's shutter lag it's difficult to get a good shot and the pics don't really do justice. There were some bombs coming through and a couple of guys ripping!

And finally I'd like to share a reading with all those suffering from the cycle of life/death and Mother nature's wrath of late.

An excerpt from Kahil Gibran:

I saw Man, throughout history, erecting towers, palaces, cities, temples on the face of the earth; and I saw the earth turn in her fury upon them and snatch them back into her bosom.
I saw strong men building impregnable castles and I observed artists embellishing their walls with paintings; then I saw the earth gape, open her mouth and swallow all that the skillful hand and the luminous mind of genius had shaped.
And I knew that the earth is like a beautiful bride who needs no man-made jewels to heighten her lovelieness but is content with the green verdure of her fields, and the golden sands of her seashores, and the precious stones on her mountains.
But man in his Divinity I saw standing like a giant in the midst of (Death)
, Wrath and Destruction, mocking the anger of the earth and the raging of the elements.
Like a pillar of light Man stood amidst the ruins of Babylon, Nineveh, Palmyra and Pompeii (Phuket, New Orleans and departed souls), and as he stood he sang the song of
Let the Earth take
That which is hers,
For I, Man, have no ending.

( ) are my additions

Wishing you all well (with a special shout out to Ma!)