Chapter Fifteen - Sorrow
If I'm honest, it’s been a really tough week.
A few nights ago, I found out a friend I worked with at the International Herald Tribune in Paris died in Turkey.
In 2008, I worked with a group of international journalists from all over the globe. Yasmine was from New Zealand and since we were the only staff from the Pacific, we became friends quickly.
Yasmine introduced me to the work of New Zealand author Catherine Mansfield. On a road trip across the ditch with my family we listened to the entire audio book on her recommendation.
Yasmine was incredibly professional and curious, she was a hard-nosed journo looking to uncover the truth. I was considered more of a 'fluff' journalist, writing about travel and lifestyle. My first story featured in the IHT was a fashion piece about a little known designer store in Antes. Point made.
Yasmine had spent time in North Africa and the Middle East. She was an excellent writer. Within a matter of weeks she was supposed to move to Athens where she had recently purchased an apartment.
I can't imagine the pain her family must be going through right now.
And then I received word that another beautiful young soul was taken.
Sammi was like a beacon of light. She was sunshine personified. Always smiling, with a beautiful bright lip stick on.
Sammi's sudden death has cast an overwhelming sadness over her family, friends and colleagues.
It's times like this I miss home. It feels a world away right now.
Nothing about my Sydney life correlates to the outback.
My beachside apartment has been replaced with a 1970's caravan. My family here are my friends, and transient travellers, and work is nothing like my role with the New Zealand government.
I am coming into my fifth month in the outback and I can't believe how fast the time has gone.
Life goes so quickly and can be cut short anytime. I'm grateful I followed my spontaneous spirit and made the move from the office to the outback.
This job has many benefits. One of those is having the opportunity to meet people from all around the world.
I’m a ‘people person’, I thrive on meeting new folks and hearing their stories. The passengers we get are so diverse, from their ages to their nationalities.
As a former journalist, I have a habit of asking a lot of questions. I'm not being rude, just inquisitive about other people and how they live.
Recently we had a couple from America, Jan and David. They were in their 60's and have been 'on the road' for almost 10 years. They retired in their 50's and swapped their house in Boston for an RV and they’ve not looked back.
They have no permanent address. No full time jobs. It's just them and the road.
It's a lifestyle beyond just existing. They thrive on life's adventures.
When I lived in the city, I felt like I was just trying to make it through each day. I remember saying to my friend Liz, 'How long can I keep doing something I dislike'.
By the time I came here on holidays, I was ready to leave my job. I was a desperate woman looking for an escape, and The Outback provided it.
I'm finding a common thread through my passengers; people come out here looking for something.
I met a woman last week, who also worked in tourism in France. She had been working for the same touriso buearo for 8 years. She too was desperate to leave.
She left her three children and husband to come to Australia and experience this world. She was searching for an answer and came to The Outback to find it.
I journeyed here on a whim. Probably one of the craziest things I've done. But letting go of life's frills, I have allowed space for something so much deeper than just existing.
I'm fireing on all cylinders.
For the first time I'm hosting a tour group that is made up of mothers and their daughters, and fathers and their daughters.
It’s an intergenerational family holiday. The atmosphere is jovial as I witness the interactions between these 'children' and their parents.
There is a father and daughter from Columbia. The father speaks no English but that doesn't stop him from interacting with everyone.
He is small in stature but a larger than life character. His daughter, Christina translates every words for him.
He is a judge in Colombia. Over the few days we spend together, he tells us, through his daughter, about some of the cases he is working on.
Mostly narcotic and kidnapping cases. He tells us there have been many attempts to bribe him, but in his 27 years as a judge he has never accepted one.
We talk about Íngrid Betancourt, who was famously kidnapped by the FARC and taken captive in the Amazon for 6.5 years.
He tells us how the government is now working with the FARC to create more harmony in the country.
I think to myself, what other job in the world would allow me to meet such an array of interesting and intelligent people?
They’re like characters in a play.
All a much needed distraction from what’s been a harrowing week.