Chapter Fourteen - Luck
Someone could have died.
As the thunder and lightening clapped down, I jumped into a tent with two unsuspecting British travellers. The three of us huddled in a tent 2x2 metres. It was very intimate while we hid from the ominous flashes of lightning and pounding rain. Mother Nature was angry. Like nothing I had seen before.
We had just arrived in Kings Canyon, when a lightning bolt hit the nearby tower and cut the electricity for the next 24 hours.
As it hit the tower, you could see the lightning travel across the ground. It was frightening, dramatic and the whitest light you have ever seen.
The earth vibrated.
If it had been any later, someone could have died. Passengers would have been coming and going from the bathrooms, wearing thongs or perhaps no shoes. If this had happened, someone would have suffered gravely.
Our guide, Rachel did a head count. 19 heads, thank god.
The rain streamed down and I cooked dinner by the light of my mobile phone. The gas was working, which meant I could cook dinner, but the fridge had turned off. Luckily all the meat I had packed was frozen, which meant it would be defrosted and cool by the time I needed it.
The tent I was supposed to sleep in was flooded. The kitchen floor was awash with rain water and mud, so I decided to sleep in the back of troopie, the Land Cruiser I use to drive up to the resort.
I rolled out my swag in the back, covered the mattress in clean sheets, found a pillow and cuddled up in the back while I listened to the pitter-patter of the rain on troopie's roof.
Bush weather can be harsh, usually sweltering heat of up to 40 degrees in spring, but this kind of rain was not unusual. I have noticed the land we drive through is uncharacteristically lush and green. The Red Centre is looking more like the Green Centre.
The desert is no longer arid, its flush with a myriad of greens of all different pallets.
Something is happening with Mother Nature and I'm not quite sure what.
After every meal on tour, I wash the dishes. On this particular tour, Sophie a lovely French woman who spoke little English was there to help me.
As I scrubbed the dishes and rinsed them, she was there every time to dry them. We had a special connection. I spoke Spanish to her, while she responded in French.
Although, I lived in Paris for a year, my French is tres mal (very bad), but I do understand the basics.
As we laughed and carried on, I thought to myself how wonderful this woman was.
Such a determined soul.
After a terrible biking accident, she lost her right arm. I wondered what had happened when I first saw her. Later her husband confided in me that the two of them were tandem riding some 30 years ago when they were in a serious accident.
Sophie lost her arm and gallons of blood. She was lucky to be alive.
She really amazed me. She did all the walks, which involved climbing up rocky bush stairs. I know I use my arms for these walks but here she was, a woman in her 60's, with one arm, doing the same as everyone else.
As the younger travellers relaxed and let people work around them, Sophie was there drying dishes with one arm.
What a legend.
We had another survivor on our tour. Tina was an Australian woman in her early 40's. She looked fit and healthy. But below the surface, she was surviving cancer.
Months earlier she had been diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma. She had the melanoma removed, was being treated with medication and radiotherapy.
I would never have known this if we hadn't of gone for a swim together.
The pool at Kings Canyon is a welcome refresh after a few hours of driving. By the time we got there, the sun was setting and the ideal time to take a dip.
Tina and I gravitated towards each other. Chatting like old friends. I don't even remember how we started talking about it.
She told me as a teenager she would go on those sun tanning beds. She loved the sun and the look of being dark. Education about sun beds was slim to none.
Here she was taking time out of her life to enjoy an outback adventure with her partner.
In some small way, I was just grateful to be a part of her healing journey.
I have lots of colleagues here. We don't have formal meetings but we meet regularly. We don't have KPI's but we are achieving our goals and we certainly don't have reviews but we're open to feedback.
It's a job and we get it done.
With this collaborative spirit, my new home, a 1970's caravan has been born.
There are only 4 caravans in Alice Lodge and I was lucky enough to score one when Max, my transgender friend moved out to go travelling.
With the help of friends, I ripped up aging carpet, striped vinyl and lay fresh new carpet.
It's with the love and dedication of friends that I was able to make the space a home.
I removed 4 trolley loads of rubbish from the caravan. I bleached and detolled the place, so it was clean and fresh to move my stuff in.
In the same week that my grandparents Kafka home was on display at The Mint in Sydney as part of an Australian immigrant exhibition, I moved into a caravan.
My grandparents were known for their European class and style.
I often think what they would have thought about me. A grandchild that never met her Jewish grandparents (my other grandparents were Christian, my mother converted).
I wonder what they would have made of me. What they would have thought of this grandchild that blows with the wind and lives life as a constant adventure.
The fact that they made it to Sydney from Poland via Austria, makes me think, perhaps I got my adventurous spirit from them?
IMAGE CREDIT: Chanelle Louise