Monday, July 29, 2019

Camp Moogerah

For my last six weeks in Australia I helped out at a “school camp” a couple hours west of Brisbane. I say “school camp” to evoke that general sense - it was open for individuals to come and camp on the grounds, for church groups to have retreats, and that sort of thing, though the whole property was ready to host several hundred kids in cabins should the need arise.

In any case, I helped out around the camp - and with the owner’s personal projects - in exchange for a bed and meals. As with previous hosts where I did some physical labor, it was a nice change from my vagrant routine. Painting, sanding, gardening, and that sort of stuff is good for the soul - when one is done with a task it’s evident. You see it. Unlike a never-ending set of essays to write/edit for a paycheck or making blog posts where the only metric of success is a number next to an illustrated eyeball (“views”), it is clear: I moved that plant from here to there and it looks good.

As nice as it was to find a routine, however, it’s not a riveting tale to retell. On a typical day I’d wake up, do a task, then spend the evening trying to put something on paper. The stories are in the cracks - the days where something didn’t go according to routine. Here are a few.

Friday, July 19, 2019

On Hats

This is the smallest of small travel tips, but I find myself repeating it to new travelers all the time: wear a hat - preferably something distinct. This serves two purposes in addition to the obvious ones related to sun and fashion:

  • When in a crowd, especially when on a tour with a new group of people, a hat helps one stick out more than a shirt or something similar. I know that people have found me (and thereby the rest of a tour group) by looking for my hat from above. I know that I've used this trick to distinguish a driver or guide in a crowd of similarly attired folks.
  • When dealing with officials, the act of removing a hat makes a good first impression and shows a little respect. For example, when passing through customs or talking to a ticketing agent, I wait until I've made eye contact with the person to conspicuously remove my hat. While this is anecdotal, this act of overt submission (as opposed to not wearing a hat or keeping a hat on one's head) seems to smooth whatever interaction enough that, while others in line may have issues, I'm waved through.

As a bonus, when flipped over, a hat keeps keys, coins, and all that junk from your pockets in one place when going through an x-ray machine or on a bedside table.

I will, eventually, write up posts for my final six weeks in Australia and this past month in Indonesia, I promise!