Archive for the ‘walking’ Category

My Daily Commute

Monday, May 20th, 2013

Let me paint you a picture of my daily commute. I leave my two story apartment when the sun is already in the sky, and run down the stairs as fast as I can without making excessive noise. Failing to arrest my forward momentum, I burst out the front door like water over a seawall, nearly pulling my arm out of its socket as I fail to let go of the handle. The taekwondo building directly across from my apartment building’s entrance is closed and padlocked, and there’s no movement in the small alleyway.

I take a left turn, walk a few steps, and then make a right turn at the creepy convenience store I’ve avoided going into ever since the man inside yelled at me for buying his products two years ago. This street is busier, with one or two cars coming every few minutes, and it’s lined with stores that are still closed or preparing to open. CP doesn’t have any sidewalks, so amidst the muffled noises coming from inside the barred and locked storefronts I walk in the street dodging parked cars, moving cars, and the odd person or two shuffling along. I pass by two chicken restaurants, a bank, a small grocery store, a coffee shop, a shoe shop that hasn’t received a new shipment in what seems to be years, and a barber shop whose only patrons seem to be  my students.

After a few minutes I arrive at an intersection where I can continue going straight, or turn right. I look straight at the road leading out of town, and marvel at how the trees that mark the boundary between my town and country road it look so different now that they have leaves again. I turn right.

I pass by the marketplace, so deserted most days that trash and dust roll down the street the way a tumbleweed does in every western movie you’ve ever seen. Today it’s filled with people from the five day market selling every agricultural product you could possibly imagine, ranging from potted herbs to potted trees, tomatoes to pumpkins, and live chickens, dogs, cats, ducks, and even rabbits. They cover the whole plaza and spill out onto the street in an effort to make the most of their selling space. They pay me no attention as I sidestep their wares, trying my best not to get hit by one of the cars with an ill-tempered driver who would probably not think twice about running over a squash, let alone me.

I make it out of the marketplace, and pass by the butcher shop on the right, which during the day has an unfortunate tendency to blast Lady Gaga but is currently closed and silent, and then I pass by Sloth’s Coffee. A little further to the left is the entrance to CP High School’s campus and after my morning adventures, I am quite content to cross the street, leave the rest of CP behind, and begin my day at work.

When I leave my school in the afternoon, before I start my morning commute in reverse and hurt my already sore throat by screaming “GOODBYE” at the students milling around the soccer field, I like to pause at the main building’s entrance and stare out at CP. The mountains look so large,  the sky so wide, and CP so small, that it’s easy to forget that there are people who exist outside of the mountains that encase us and embrace us. I breathe in, breathe out, then walk down the stairs.

A Pacific Playland

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

UNSW courtyard

Today was the first day where I had no scheduled activities. It felt odd to be set loose in this wonderful city and have nothing but my whims to guide me. Of course the first place my whims wanted to take me was the beach. It was 85 degrees and sunny today, the ocean beckoned.

Jill needed to get some administrative things taken care of at the University of New South Wales, which is close to Coogee beach, so I told her I would tag along and we would navigate the Sydney bus system together so long as we got to end the day at the ocean. She agreed and we were off.

The bus stop is less than a 6 minute walk from our apartment, and being a beautiful day (read: LOW HUMIDITY, a blessing I do not take lightly growing up in the sweaty hell pit that is Virginian Julys) the walk was very pleasant and the suburb we live in is quite cute. The tricky part about getting on the bus is buying the bus pass, which wouldn’t be hard if anyone who worked in grocery stores in this country spoke English. Much like in the United States, Australia seems to have a problem with the lower income inhabitants not bothering to learn the native language. Such is the case with most of the grocery store owners across the city it would appear. We spent a good 8 minutes trying to explain that we wanted one way student bus passes to zone 3. I don’t know what this small asian grocery store owning woman thought we were asking for, but she seemed very flustered by our request and didn’t understand enough to grant it until we had repeated ourselves in at least six different ways with animated hand gestures.

With bus passes finally in hand we found the bus we needed and 25ish minutes later arrived at the University of New South Wales. We had to ask some friendly aussies for directions to the main admin building, but once we found it Jill was able to take care of everything she needed to do quite quickly and without difficulty. I was kinda amazed at the ease at which we were able to accomplish everything. American universities could use a crash course in university management from the aussies.

I thought this was really unique looking

Apparently childrens cancer is a huge issue in Australia. I saw a poster on the UNSW campus that said by your 16th birthday your chances of surviving a cancer have decreased by 50% or something like that. I though this logo looked alot like the street artist Banksy.

UNSW Logo

UNSW walkway. The whole campus is very modern.

After getting all of Jills academic issues sorted out it was time to find the beach. We were told by a student guide at UNSW that we should take a bus, but looking at the map we decided we would save the money, enjoy the beautiful day and just walk. The nearest beach was Coogee, and with a map in hand we headed for the shore.

We probably walked a little under a mile, but just as we were getting tired we saw the ocean peaking out ahead of us. Suddenly our strength was renewed and we booked it the last .25 miles or so all the while watching the water line draw closer to us.

Getting close!

SO CLOSE!

COOGEE BEACH!!!

We spent several GLORIOUS hours at the beach. It was a warm day with low humidity ( it doesn’t have to feel like you are inside someone’s mouth when you walk outside?! WEIRD.) We swam in the pacific ocean and watched all the surf school students paddling out. They had some monster seaweed in the surf there but otherwise the sand was white and the ocean was blue and the houses in the surrounding area were adorable.

THE PACIFIC OCEAN!! I wish I could adequately describe the excitement level I was experiencing in this picture but I feel like my face says it all.

My darling roomie

What a perfect way to end a day.

On our way back from the beach we stopped in this very small privately owned pizza place for dinner. It was completely adorable and as we were sitting there families were coming in and shaking hands with the owner and ordering “the usual” it was adorably quaint. Of course getting home was tricky as we had walked from UNSW after taking a bus and now would need to find a bus station and a different bus route. Despite our best navigation skills (read: Jills, not mine as I am well aware of my limitations and they certainty include navigation of any kind) we managed to get lost. But the wonderful thing about getting lost in Australia is that the people are super friendly, the weather is warm, and the scenery is wonderful. So even though we ended up wandering around the city for about an hour and a half we didn’t really mind. As it got dark I finally suggested that we catch a cab, and within moments of deciding this one pulled up next to us, we climbed in and zipped home to glebe.

We were both laughing about it and ended up seeing a good portion of the suburban areas of the city, including two of the big parks here. I guess it is true what they say, not all who wander are lost. We thought we were lost but really it turned out to be an adventure. Once we got back to the apt we were exhausted from a long day of sun, surf, and sightseeing so after a few hours of catching up with our other roomies and internet-ing we passed out. Another day in Australia extremely well spent.

The southern hemisphere sun is intense. It requires a cool demeanor.