Day two in Byron commenced with me sleepily pouring an instant coffee packet into my cup of tea thinking it was sugar, then spitting said concoction all over the kitchen. T, who by some miracle didn’t have a hangover, was watching TV with a middle aged Irish woman that was also annoyingly upbeat at such an early hour. As T tends to do, this woman became her new best friend within minutes of meeting. Soon, the Irish woman was demonstrating her clog dancing for us. I stared, trying to stay awake during her spontaneous talent show, then she announced she was going to get her violin out for an extra treat. Because there’s nothing better than playing a scratchy rendition of an Irish jig for people you just met at 7:00 am. I’m sure the people who were still asleep especially appreciated it. T gave a standing applause and exclaimed, “Omigosh, could I have just like, one quarter of your energy?” I choked on my tea. I know what T meant, but the way she phrased it seemed like she was asking the woman if she could siphon a bit of her soul. If someone had asked me that, I’d instantly be disturbed, but the Irish woman laughed and said “Sure!” She then grabbed T’s hands and made a “swoooop” noise. It was like watching an overly enthusiastic version of the Wonder Twins. I loudly announced I was hungry, in hopes C would come out of the room and we could finally go to breakfast, leaving the madness behind.
Breakfast consisted of a delicious smoothie and T rambling on about how awesome the Irish woman is, like she’d known her for years instead of a half hour. We parted ways with C (she was going snorkeling) and headed for the tour bus that was taking us to a ‘genuine hippie town’ called Nimbin, which T could barely contain her excitement about. I’m quite accustomed to seeing hippies and therefore don’t find them as novel as T does, but the description on the tour pamphlet sounded fun. Plus, I don’t know how to swim, so I couldn’t go with C. The driver/ guide was awesome and played music he’d perfected to go along with the ride. Looking out the window at beautiful Australian countryside landscapes while listening to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young is indeed oddly fitting. I noticed T had her iPod headphones in, listening to Brittany Spears. “Dammit,” I said, snatching it from her and throwing it into my bag, “You want hippies, you listen to their music!”
About a mile outside of Nimbin, the driver pulled over and asked if anyone was an undercover cop. “You have to admit you are if asked,” he said, matter of factly. Nobody was, and he went into a long prepared story about marijuana and the laws of Australia. I had an idea what was getting on, but T was frantic. We finally drove into Nimbin, an incredibly small town in the middle of nowhere. Yup, it was essentially a tourist spot for people looking to easily score pot. T became so paranoid, you’d think she was on the stuff herself. “THESE AREN’T HIPPIES! THEY’RE... THEY’RE... DRUGGIES!” she hissed, clinging to my arm. I told her that druggies evokes the idea of a heroin addict passed out in an alley, these people around us were merely stoners. She didn’t care, they were the same in her eyes. Now, I don’t smoke pot, but in my opinion, it isn’t a big deal and T was way overreacting. One of my favourite moments was when a groovy older woman with silver hair in pigtails came up to us offering us cake and cookies. I politely declined and T said, “Hey, you didn’t ask me! I want cake!” I laughed, “Not that kind of cake.” T got all wide eyed, the concept of drugs in baked goods was clearly unknown to her. “That cool old lady, she was trying to sell us POT in CAKE?! How was I supposed to know that? I’m not from Philadelphia like you.” T has never been to Philly, but for some reason she thinks it’s this crazy place straight out of Grand Theft Auto and it’s a miracle I’ve survived the rough and tumble streets for so long.
Nimbin is best explained by the following pictures I took in the strange town ‘museum,’ a wonderful place full of random crap that creeped T out and made me giggle. Sadly, I couldn’t get a good quality photo of the black light room plastered with glowing velvet Unicorn and mushroom posters.
Dinosaurs, the Virgin Mary, an X-Files type of slogan, and a disembodied Bart Simpson head in the background. Quite possibly the best ‘museum installation’ I have ever seen.
We spent the remaining time eating goats milk ice cream (better than it sounds and T made me try it first in case it was ‘laced with something’) under a tent watching a guy with a banjo called Old Dan play weird songs. First he treated us to a version of ‘Honky Tonk Badonkadonk,’ then an original ditty that made me laugh so hard I wrote down the lyrics:
“My secret lover has a filmy negligee/
When our love was over, she said I didn’t have to pay/
I asked her why our love time was free/
Then she said, ‘Sealey’s Mattress sponsors me.’”
Back on the bus, T couldn’t wait to leave ‘the druggies’ and I chuckled, wondering how long it would take her to realize a good 80% of our fellow passengers were baked out of their minds. One Japanese girl sitting in front of us fell asleep and woke up repeatedly like she had narcolepsy, then stared at her hand for fifteen minutes. We drove through the rainforest on our way to a waterfall and the driver played a techno song because they used to have raves in the forest and the loud music was the only way you could find where the party was located. The techno music had a particularly interesting affect on the reefer crew. I think one of the reasons I don’t drink much or do drugs is that I get a lot more enjoyment out of watching other people who are drunk or stoned. It just amuses me way more than it should. I kind of wish I had let T get that piece of cake, as a sort of evil experiment to see how she’d react, but then again, she probably would’ve just been extra annoying. The waterfall was beautiful, but after I got a few pictures, it began pouring.
Our next stop was a random fellow’s macadamia nut farm, but because of the rain, we were unable to go anywhere on his property but a little cabin overlooking a pond. This is what greeted us on our way to the cabin:
He informed us these heaps of artistically arranged junk have been in the works for the thirty years he’s lived in Australia. Originally from somewhere in New York, he asked if there were any other Americans in the group. T, a couple from California, and I raised our hands. “I bet you’re all glad Obama won the election! Maybe now I can go back and visit the US again!” he bellowed. T winced a bit and diverted her gaze. I cracked a macadamia nut and willed the old hippie to notice her expression. “Why that look? You vote for Nader?” he asked. I could barely contain my excitement. T vs. Old Hippie Smackdown 2008! “Yeah.” she lied, knowing very well what would happen if she told the truth. Dammit. The last time she got in an argument about politics, her opposition asked what a “bright young woman like her would be doing voting McCain” and her defense was the dazzling gem of a comeback “Heidi and LC from ‘The Hills’ are voting for him too!” Disappointed, I ate more macadamia nuts than I’ve probably had in my entire life and took more photos.
This picture isn’t blurry because of my camera, but because that’s just how incredibly hard the rain was falling.
The ride back to Byron Bay was filled with even more excellent music and then we ran back to the share house shrieking after getting dropped off in the peak of bad weather. C had a good time and her session fortunately ended before the storm hit. Walking home, she discovered Cheeky Monkeys wasn’t open that night, so we opted for Japanese food instead. Back at the share house, it was more story time and violin recital with crazy Irish lady, her German friend occasionally chipping in sarcastically. “Is she always like this?” I asked in German, not wanting to offend the Irish woman. The German woman sighed and nodded. Oooh, I know all too well how German lady feels. My friendship with T is very much like that of Daria and Quinn Morgendorfer, minus the sister part. I once pointed this out to T, who of course had no idea what I was referring to. I showed her a few episodes and her response was the very appropriate, “You’re right! That’s soooo totally us!”
Day three was spent wandering a huge artist community in the cold rain looking for a particular glass artist T’s Mom once saw on TV. It sounds like a lot of interesting stories could come from that, but nope. Barely anything was open and when we finally found the place, T marveled at everything in there, but ended up not buying anything. I would have yelled at her, but I was too cold. The two and a half hour bus ride to Brisbane made me car sick and I had a grand ol’ time holding back vomit for two of those hours. Do you know how disgusting/painful that is? Very much so on both counts. So there you go, Byron Bay was not quite the beachy vacation I’d hoped, but it was certainly interesting save for the last day. T still tells me she misses the Irish woman, by the way.