After my plans to go to Tasmania fell through I decided that this would be a good weekend to go surfing. There are many companies that run weekend getaways but Mojo Surf is one of the major ones, and since they give a discount for Study Australia students I decided I would go with them. My roommate Courtney had done a surf weekend a few weeks back, and a bunch of people in Glebe had done them as well, so in talking to them I kinda knew what to expect. This being said, almost everyone else had gone on the weekend with a group of kids from our program whereas I had opted to go by myself. I made this decision Wednesday afternoon, and since the trip would leave Friday afternoon this was fairly last minute.
It had been a productive Wednesday and after a three hour block of classes I had decided to take a stroll through the study abroad fair that was going on just for kicks and giggles. I stopped by the America table to listen in on some of the conversations being had there. When I walked up there was an Australian girl who was frantically questioning the girl working the booth about what her life and classes would be like in the states. She was asking what the grading would be like, how her classes would be structured, how hard things would be compared to her Australian classes. I asked her what university she was going to. Her reply? Arizona State. It took ever ounce of self control I could muster not to blurt out that all she needed to be successful at Arizona state was a pulse, and I’m not even sure thats 100% mandatory. I really wanted to tell her that she would be better off brining a set of shot glasses with her instead of any school supplies, but somehow I found the strength to walk away. She’ll figure it out soon enough. At least she won’t be too bogged down with studying while she is “studying” abroad. They should call the Arizona State program “get liver cancer abroad.”
I had to stop by work to touch base with my boss who had been out the day before on a project he wanted me to get started on. That only took a few minutes, but since I was in the office with a landline telephone at my disposal I decided I would put in a call to Mojo Surf. I had called them in the morning, but the person who authorizes the Study Australia discount had not been around, so I had been told to call back later. When I did, my intention was really just to ask questions about the camp and then to book online later. The woman on the phone seemed to think that I had called to book my trip and kept asking me for my credit card number after every question I asked. I finally relented and just gave it to her, theres no time like the present right?
The rest of the week went by uneventfully and by Friday afternoon I was excited for my weekend getaway. I met the Mojo bus at the Wake Up Hostel, which is only about a 20 minute walk from my apartement. My name was checked off of a list and I boarded the bus along with 18 others for the six hour drive north to Crescent Head.
We made three stops on the way there. The first was at a truck stop just outside of the city to get some dinner and it was there that I got talking to two girls that were from Mexico. They were very sweet and giggly and were speaking to each other fluently in Spanish. I assumed they had come to Australia together, but I found out that they knew one another from a summer camp they had attended when they were 12, and hadn’t been friends then. Then they both turned up in Australia at the same university and upon figuring out that they knew each other had been traveling around together together. One girl from from Cuernavaca and the other was from Mexico City. We had a nice chat about Mexico and they were impressed that I knew so much about the country. The last stop we made before arriving at Crescent Head was at a bottle shop (basically an ABC store) and the bus driver told us to load up on all the alcohol and cigarettes we would need for a weekend. The whole time I had basically been envisioning that this trip would be kinda like girl scout camp but with surfing instead of hiking and with boys, but this announcement shattered that vision. It still weirds me out that I am old enough to drink. Every time we go out to a club and I get asked for my ID my heart jumps, it has taken some getting used to.
I got off the bus when we arrived at the bottle shop, but I had no real intention of buying anything. I was with a bunch of people I didn’t know and I didn’t think I would want to drink with them, plus I didn’t need to spend the money. A bunch of people on the bus invested in boxed wine, which provides you with the most amount of alcohol for your dollar. Boxed wine was actually invented in Australia by a man named Thomas Angove, a winemaker from Renmark, South Australia and his design was patented in 1965. The original design consisted of a polyethelene bladder that could hold one gallon of liquid placed inside a corrugated cardboard box. This design required that the customer cut off the corner of the bag, pour out the serving of wine and then reseal the bag with a special peg. In 1967 Charles Henry Malpas of Penfolds Wines, another Australian wine company, improved on this design by patenting a plastic air-tight tap that was welded to a metallised bladder making storage more convenient. This was all going on around the same time that America was preoccupied with putting a man on the moon. Clearly Australia had their priorities in order. I mean what have we ever gained from a man being on the moon? Thats right, nothing. But boxed wine? The cheap gift that comes in a box and keeps on giving.
Once we arrived at camp we were shown to our accommodations, which consisted of a large dorm style room with bunk beds. The rooms were co-ed which was weird. I know I’m an “adult” and I shouldn’t feel weird about such things, but it still strikes me as abnormal when I am sleeping in the same room as some boy I don’t know who is the next bed over. It was already past midnight by the time we arrived at camp, and since we would be getting up around seven the next morning we were told that it would be in our best interest to get to bed soon. Before doing this a few of us decided to head down to the beach to check it out. From the camp to the beach was about a five minute walk through a narrow path through the woods. Once we got to the shore and looked up into the sky we were met with more stars than I have ever seen in my life. I swear I could see galaxies and planets. It was completely breathtaking. I was blinking furiously trying to take it all in, thinking my eyes were deceiving me. The stars on the Australian flag represent the southern cross, which is a constellation that can only be seen in the southern hemisphere. On this parituclar night I was able to see it clear as day.
The group of us that had ventured out onto the beach stayed there and talked for a good half hour. There was a group of of five or so girls and guys from England who were working in Sydney for a few years, a brother and a sister who were traveling for a year from Sweeden and had just arrived in Australia the day before via Vietnam. There were also the two girls from Mexico and a girl from Canada. We were quite an international bunch. After 45 minutes or so chatting on the beach under the stars we all turned in for the night.