New Life. I’m living in Australia. If the speed at which the last two months went by is any indication of how the next few years will go, I better hold on. Time has been flying by. So much has happened in the past few months it will be difficult to properly update everyone. I moved from the Southwest of the USA to the Southwest of Australia (Bagdad Arizona to Perth Western Australia) in August 2011. It was a difficult decision to start over in a foreign land and leave friends and family on the other side of the planet but hopefully I will learn from it and grow as a person.
Accommodation. I work an 8-6 roster. 8 days on, then 6 days off. I live at the mining camp during the 8 days I work, then I’m on my own for the off days. The camp is located in a small town about 2 hours’ drive southwest of Perth. The company put me up at a sweet apartment in Perth for the first two months. Unfortunately, they would only pay for two months so now I am on my own. I have been bedding down in a variety of ways: camping out, sleeping in the car, staying at a friends house, hostels...
Booming. Western Australia seems to be doing really well. There are cranes speckling the Perth skyline indicating a construction boom. This recent boom appears to indicate the destruction of any structure less than 5 years old. .
Lifestyle. The 8 working days are long and busy. I pretty much start to get sick like clockwork after day 6. I get up at 5am, get ready for work, get breakfast, make lunch, then meet the team at 545. I get back to my chalet around 5-6 pm. Then I work out. Lately, due to injury, it has been about 30 minutes of cardio. Then I gorge myself on a large dinner because the dry mess (cafeteria) serves a delightful spread. Then I go to bed. I repeat that for 8 days until I am released.
The roster makes for an interesting social life. I haven’t had any trouble meeting people in Perth. I always end up having a really good time with the people I hang out with but sometimes I won’t see them for a month. I always say to friends or new people i meet "I’ll see ya guys next break" but then I realize I had a trip planned for the next break so all of a sudden I don’t see a group of friends for nearly a month. Haha.
Backpackers. The Aussie backpacking scene is alive and well here. By backpacking I mean grungy, world travel via a campervan or ride share. Most backpackers are from Europe, particularly Ireland, who come to Australia to escape economic woes back home. I have only met 1 American backpacker so far. I cross paths with backpackers frequently because we have the same goal: see as much as Australia as possible on the cheap.
Running. Not going so well for me right now. Reading about former high school rivals qualifying for the Marathon Olympic trials doesn’t make it any better for me. I got off crutches from my stress fracture back in June. I slowly built up while battling hip/femur pain only to have my lower leg start hurting. It has been bothering me for the last 4 months and still does. I have been running about 30 minutes every other day. Not really sure what to do. I am guessing it is some sort of inflammation in the shin/calf complex but could be another stress fracture. I'll just keep grinding away with stretching, massage, icing, and strengthening like any humbled competitor would.
10 Year Rule. Things here are generally 10 years behind the good old USA. There are no pay at the pump gas stations. You pull up, pump gas, then walk inside the store to pay the cashier. Get this, and I know its out there, but they actually actually expect you to not pull up with your license plate covered, pump gas with a ball cap to cover your face, then drive off without paying. I actually almost ran out of gas one time because I drove back to work after 6pm and all the gas stations were closed. Everything closes early. There are no 24 hour Walmarts over here. I bet they will start to pop up in say 10 years.
Smoking. I think the 10 year rule applies to smoking as well. It seems quite a bit of people smoke here. I'm not saying everyone does its just more common. I was chit chatting with a guy during a break in the new hire training:
So what do you do here?
Inhale, exhale huge puff of smoke. I'm the Health and Safety Manager he said proudly.
One other time I was sitting in Perth's Hay street mall in the Central Business District (CBD)eating some nutella and cookies when a fit looking girl nursing a smoothie sat next to me. Then, she took out a cigarette and inhaled it away to nothing. Then repeated that process a few more times. Doesn't it defeat the purpose of exercising and eating a smoothie if you are going to pollute the lungs. I just love how we, myself included, can find ways to justify acts or behaviors that we know are questionable at best to suit our desires and wants.
Shark Attack. Apparently, shark attack is a real risk in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Western Australia. There have been 3 fatal shark attacks since I arrived here in August. The most recent occurred off the shores of Rottnest Island where I snorkeled one week prior to the attack. That is a little bit scary. Government officials regularly send helicopters around the popular beaches to look for sharks.
On blogging or not. I have thought a lot about if I should even bother blogging and or what I should blog about. Should it be a running only blog or just a general life blog or Australia adventure blog or should I even bother at all? Here’s my answer… I have a kept a sporadic blog since 2006 when I started my first adventure in New York. I wish I was more consistent over the years because I really enjoy recalling my old adventures, places, and people. Otherwise, I suppose I like the idea of creating a body work, a band of followers (friends) with similar interests, and a platform with more than 160 characters (facebook/twitter) to adequately share my adventures with family and friends and also . That’s how I feel today. Tomorrow, I may never want to waste another second blogging. We’ll see.
Chest hair. Everyone at work is issued a uniform to wear to work: jeans and a long sleeve button down shirt. Many, if not all of the guys leave the top two, sometimes 3 buttons undone exposing massive amount of chest hair. I find this hilarious. I find the Aussies I work with to be much more animated than previous coworkers.
Bagdaddy or not. I thought about changing the domain name to something more catchy and different but Bagdaddy is who I am and what I am all about. Ok, not really but its simple, unique, and I don’t have to do anything more than just continue doing what I've been doing. I decided to just rename the title of the blog to Perth Dreams. Karl came up with name during our last trip on the Clarion before I left the USA. It is a spoof on Jon Krakauers book Eiger Dreams. I haven’t read it but based on his other books, I think I will like it.
Nomad. I lived a semi-nomadic existence while in bagdad az. I would spend weekends on in my truck beating around in canyons, on dirt roads, up mountains, through deserted mining towns...hippies, water holes, flagstaff, phoenix, grand canyon, Jerome and the like. This move to Australia and the favorable roster will allow me to continue living a mobile lifestyle. However, I will likely not keep it up forever. I think at my core I am a homebody. Something that I dont have right now that I would like having is a workshop or garage to tinker around in.
Second guessing. There’s no question I have my doubts about moving here. There’s always going to what ifs or should’ves, But I think I am settled down now and am looking forward to the next few years. After all, the greatest risk in life is not taking one.
100 million dollar question. My Brazilian buddy brought this to my attention as I didn’t pick up on it the first time. I was at a meeting where we discussing different options for the mining sequence going back and forth over the pros and cons of each option. One guy said, “if we do this and that and so and so, then what happens with this? That is the 100 million dollar question.” People here don’t ask the 1 million dollar question. In a land (Perth)where the average house costs 495,000 dollars, 1 million isn’t really a lot of money. The point is things are expensive here. Minimum wage is 18 dollars (21 if you have a college degree), Petrol costs $1.40 per liter (5.50 $/gal), cars are nearly double the price in the US, car maintenance is ridiculous. I inquired about an oil change for my Accent- 180 dollars. Ok. Actually, 110 dollars for just the oil change portion but come on. FYI Aussie Dollar is about equal to the greenback. A good genral rule would be things cost about 1.3-1.5 times as much as they would in the USA.
Fortnight. If you don't know what that word is, It means two weeks. People say that a lot here. I used to say it as a joke, but now I can use it in regular conversation without people looking at me funny. Reckon is another one they use here quite a bit. Instead of saying what do you think, they would say what do you reckon to which the response would be I reckon... There are heaps of other words, like heaps, that people say but I won't overwhelm with all the news ones yet.
Future Dreams. I have a million, sorry, 100 million different ideas running through my head about what to do on my days off, and more generally what to do with my life. The beauty is I can do anything I want…But not everything. I’m anxious to see what I actually do.