Thursday, February 24, 2011

Should I stay or should I go

Australia is bloody big! I know that is stating the obvious, but it really hits home when driving across it. Where to stop, which places to drive on by and how long to stay at any one given place. These are the constant questions on any given day. A year seems so short in the context of the tiny amount of Australia we will really end up visiting. We spent three enjoyable days at Coffin Bay National Park and we could easily have stayed longer. Everyone had a good time there. Surrounded by abundant wildlife and we had just found a good fishing spot, along with some skills to go with it. But today we packed everything up and drove north 300 odd kilometres up the Eyre Peninsula to Streaky Bay. Over the course of the drive there were a number of roads leading off the highway to little towns or beaches. But apart from a bit of a pit stop at the Elliston pub, we just cruised past all of these. Who knows what any of these places were like. The plan was to spend two nights in Streaky Bay and then head across the Nullarbor, so we needed to get up to Streaky Bay today. Even though our trip has no real fixed itinerary, at times there seems to be a hurry to get somewhere else from wherever we are currently located. Perhaps it is just related to the magnitude of distance we are trying to to cover in a fixed period of time. We do want to be in Broome for the birth of the baby and there is also another overseas work trip or two coming up in the near future, so I guess these play a part. I don't know. Perhaps it's just me. If I sit still for too long in the one spot, perfectly comfortable, I feel a need after a while to have to move on. I'm not sure why that is.

When Tori and I were in Turkey some years ago, we ended up on a quest to go to Konya which had been the home town of Mevlana. He was a muslim sufi poet and cleric of the thirteenth century who founded the order of the whirling dervishes. In a time when christians and muslims were hacking each other to death during the crusades, he was a man who preached religious and social tolerance, saying that whoever you were, rich or poor, whatever your race or religion, the doors to his temple were always open. On our trip through Turkey, we kept on coming across more and more information about this amazing man in the unlikeliest of places and forms. I felt drawn to find out more about him and in Konya was a Mevlana museum which among other things contained his tomb. When we arrived in Konya we went looking for the campground that the Lonely Planet stated should have been right next to the stadium. After several fruitless laps of the town, we decided to stop and ask somebody for directions. Out of a group of students, one guy came forward and told us that the campground was no longer there. He promptly invited us to come and stay at his place for as long as we liked. It took a while to actually work this out because he couldn't really speak any english. As he came back to the van with me, he was explaining something about come and meet his english teacher. Tori just looked at me with another "who's he brought back to the van this time" kind of look and we drove off to Zafer's apartment. When we got there and met his wife, besplendant in Muslim headdress, it became apparent that he had been saying that he wanted us to meet his wife who was studying to be an english teacher. We spent a glorious night with them around at their Kurdish friend's house, drinking tea and eating great food and conversing somehow fluently through Omur who was the only one in the room who could actually speak both languages. We returned back to their place around 4am and crashed out on a comfortable makeshift bed in their loungeroom. They were all so friendly and welcoming and made the very genuine offer for us to stay. But for some reason, the next day we were in a hurry to get to who knows where. It wasn't due to any discomfort of staying with Zafer and Omur. It was just some irrepressible feeling that time was against us and we had to keep moving. Yet I have no idea where we went to the next day. It was clearly a lot less memorable. What was the hurry? Why didn't we just stay at least another night?

There's been countless other times during travels when I've moved on from somewhere only to think back and question why I was in such a hurry to leave. The pull of obligation or the often false lure of better places ahead. The plan before arriving here at Streaky Bay was to stay two nights and race off on Saturday morning. But it looks too nice. I think we might have to stay an extra day.


natalie said...

Hey Greg - you really are hitting your stride in terms of being on holiday now - doing a bit of Philosophising. Excellent!

Greg Swedosh said...

This ain't no party. This ain't no disco. This ain't no fooling around...