Chapter Three - Reality
I no longer suffer from Mondayitis, I don't know the days of the week and I can't remember the last time I woke up in the 7'ams.
I'm not on holidays, this is work. This is real life. Now my job revolves around the sun. Beds in the morning before it gets too hot, dinner on the table just after sunset.
Time in the NT is completely warped. I felt the same way when I was here on holidays 8 weeks ago. I travelled with people I met on a Monday and by Wednesday we were best friends.
What feels like months, in reality it's only been 3 weeks. So far I have survived 4am wake ups, adapted to wearing thongs in the shower, relinquished my privacy and now share my space with between 3-4 people.
It's a far cry from my spacious Coogee apartment, a suitably paid government job and the luxury of good morning coffees.
Even through Alice has a couple of great coffee shops it's a different story when we're out on the road. It's $3.50 for instant coffee, $6 for the real deal. Luckily as a 'host' I get it free, otherwise I'd be broke in no time.
I can relate it to my old job of hosting journalists on 'famils' (media trips). I get to do all the fun stuff (apart from beds). I check emails a couple of times a week, never have any meetings to go to and don't get the 3pm afternoon dip.
I'm so happy here. I have no idea how long it will last but it feels good and I'm just embracing everything that comes my way.
Who the F*ck is Alice
Alice is constantly surprising me. She's completely original and unique. Just as you think you know her, you'll be out and someone will say, seriously 'who the f*ck is Alice'
This happened last Saturday night. We started off at the hostel, drinking wines and chatting to the new arrivals. It's a constant revolving door. People come and go as they please and we (permanent residents) make them feel welcomed.
A couple of hours into our night, we head to Montes. What we didn't know was that there was a 1920's gala night on.
At 11pm we swan through the doors as Louis Armstrong is playing, women swinging around on the dance floor and the whole room buzzing. It was like a scene from The Great Gatsby with a bush twist. Many of the men were wearing Akubra's and downing beers at the bar.
As we're throwing back shots at the bar, a Norwegian guy says between tequila shots, 'who the f*uck is Alice'.
I'm learning she has a fiery soul with a flirtatious attitude. She's the kind of woman you want as your best friend. Fun, friendly and forever in your heart.
She's won me over.
Surprise Night Out
I would not normally go out by myself in Sydney. But, here in Alice it's very different. Last Thursday, I was at home at the Lodge and it was pretty quiet, so I decided to head out to see what was going on.
I walked down Todd Mall and it was buzzing. There were night markets on, including food stalls, buskers and indigenous people selling art work.
After a couple of minutes walking around solo, I bump into Moaz, an Israeli friend who works at Olive Tree, a cafe at the Botanical Gardens.
After a few more minutes I bump into Isaac, a gorgeous charismatic guide from Outback Tour Servies.
Together we head over to Montes for some drinks and dinner.
What started off as a quiet night in ended up as a fun night out with friends.
I have met the Mexican version of myself. Her name is Julietta. She rents a shared room in the lodge. She's a writer and has a column in one of Mexico's largest newspapers. Like me, she works a somewhat minimal job, which affords her the time to write.
It's wonderful having people like Julietta in the lodge. We talk about our writing, what inspires us and respect each other's time when we see each other scribing.
She's also the 'mother' of the lodge. Often in the kitchen making us food. We've formed a little family, myself, Eric, the softly spoken Scottish guy and Julietta's brother Valentine.
It's a Melrose Place set up without the dramas; everyone knows their neighbours and there is a grass court yard with a pool in the middle.
I pay the rent on Friday's, I get free breakfast every morning and my sheets are cleaned for me.
It's not a bad life.
[photo credit: R.M Williams]