My lovely friend and work colleague FD, of whom I once blogged about here, is going to Australia for five weeks in September. The reason she is taking this faraway trip is that her spiritual teacher is hosting a week long peace convention there. She usually follows him when he visits the UK, but because of home and work commitments, she can rarely go overseas to hear him. This year, she made a decision that she was going to Australia with only her sister-in-law as a travelling partner – to attend the convention. And as her travel plans developed, so did her desire to exploit the opportunity and she decided to take a month of unpaid leave to see more of Australia.
So, after being granted leave by the manager, she got busy online planning her travel diary and doing the relevant research needed for the trip.
Included among the items on her itinary is a trip to Ayers Rock and a three-day tour of Daintree Rainforest. Well, regardless of the fact that I am of the opinion that there are some very conflicting social and environmental issues pertaining to the growing trend of ecotourism, I must declare here and now that I-am-so-bloody-jealous-of-her-I-can-hardly-speak-about-it!!
Anyway, the rainforest – she has been discussing this a lot with us in our little staff-room because she hasn’t been able to make up her mind whether to risk the wonderfulsome but harsh aspects of nature – the humongously huge creepy-crawlies . . . the highly poisonous snakes . . . the crocs . . . the rare and exotic creatures of the rainforest and so on to stay in the rainforest itself or whether to be what I called a token-tourist and stay in luxury accomodation just outside the rainforest.
Well, after teasing her for an hour about the aforementioned unsettling contradictory aspects of ecotourism, I told her that if I were to abandon all my misgivings about ecotourism and actually visit a rainforest, I might as well do it properly and camp right inside one (I mean I’m sure a mere three days would be doable even for a screaming, squeamish, arachnopobe such as her very self – FD).
She had a variety of choices regarding the rainforest and one tempting option was to stay on the beach where the rainforest comes down to meet it and boy! how wonderful does that sound? But she’s actually decided to hire a 4X4 camper type vehicle and she will drive them both around for the four weeks following the convention. So they are free to see and do as much or as little as they desire within the four week time-limit they have.
Can you imagine it? Two uninhibited, free-spirited women, chain-free for five whole weeks, temporarily relieved of all their commitments with only themselves to care about and the open road ahead. Oh, I know there are dangers – risks attached. And it’s worrying to know that hundreds of tourists/backpackers go missing in Australia every year but sheesh! A month of travel – seeing deserts, rainforests, natural wonders, indigenous communities
drinking in bars with drunken aboriginals . . . you wouldn’t die wondering, that’s for sure. And I wouldn’t be all that surprised if my friend FD didn’t come back at all.