Thursday, September 9, 2010
Epic Sandboarding Weekend
As I mentioned in my previous post, myself and 9 of the other fine gentlemen of the P and O decided it was time for a little weekend road trip to go make some mischief and explore outside of Freo. After a few hours fist pumping to techno, we arrived in the lovely little town of Lancelin. Well… lovely might not be the right word, I think “empty” might be a more suitable descriptor. Since we stayed true to our form and hit the road much later than expected, by the time we arrived to our campsite, we were surrounded by complete darkness, which made setting up the tents an adventure in itself. After we were all situated, we decided to take a little jaunt and check out our surroundings. After only several minutes of wandering, we found ourselves on the shore of a beautiful beach. We all plopped down and engaged in copious drinking, enjoying the lapping shores, ocean air, beautiful night sky (some of the most unbelievable stars I have ever been fortunate enough to witness), and company of our P and O buddies. After a wobbly walk home, we snoozed away and dreamt about the insanity that was sure to follow the next day.
The following morning, we awoke bright and early and drove into town to snag some supplies. After purchasing some goodies to ease any remnants of the thunderous hangovers that plagued many us from the previous night, we rented our sandboards and sped off towards the monstrous dunes. I’m going to attempt to describe the landscape of Lancelin, because it was truly unlike anything I’ve ever seen in any of the beach towns I’ve visited and my pictures definitely don’t do it justice. Perched atop one of the monstrous dunes, we could see the light turqoise ocean, a tiny strip of a few buildings and such that made up the town, and everything else was just a never-ending playground of pristine sand. Imagine sitting in a GIGANTIC vat of perfect and ultra-fine flour, surrounded by enormous mounds of endless blindingly white sand and nothingness as far as the eye can see. Quite a surreal experience to say the least.
Other than the occasional daredevil dirt-biker and rambunctious 4-wheeler, we spent the day in almost complete solitude, soaking up the pristine rays of the Australian sun, indulging in a few alcoholic treasures, and enjoying the exhilarating delights of sandboarding. In addition to the thrills of speeding down massive mounds of powder, we all got a little more of a workout than we had bargained for because unlike snowboarding, there is no chairlift to sweep you back up to the top of the mountain following a speedy run, meaning that we all had many opportunities to struggle up these colossal mountains of sand. Whew!
After several hours of glorious boarding and relaxing in this bizarre yet gorgeous place, we decided to spice things up a bit and add a little zest to the sandboarding experience. We used a spare rope that we had handy and attached the sandboard to the back of the pickup truck we had driven to the dunes. One by one, we took turns risking our lives “speed-sledding” across the vast landscape at breakneck speeds. Not exactly the epitome of safety, but certainly a wild and entertaining ride! I’ve attached a short clip of myself taking a turn on the epic rollercoaster ride; although it may be difficult to tell from the video, the car was absolutely rocketing throughout these massive dunes, and during each hairpin turn the car made I was hanging on for dear life (pardon the language as well, boys will be boys, full of fun and noise). My reward for my daredevil antics was a massive wedgie and sand ALL the way up my swimsuit (my apologies for sharing too much information). As a matter of fact, remnants of the distinctive sand still cling to my shoes, my backpack, and the majority of my clothes; I swear this stuff is impossible to get rid of! It’s not quite as much fun to feel the unique sand a week later…
Anyways, after everyone had gotten a significant rush of adrenaline, we decided to head back into town to catch some more glorious rays and relax at one of the many nearby beaches. Once we arrived, we noticed an enticing island offshore that appeared just within our grasp. As we stared in curiousity at what surely was a magical land full of treasures and wonder, we noticed an Australian lounging on the beach with a large fishing pole and decided to see if he had any further information for us regarding a potentially hazardous journey. When we asked the local fisherman for any words of wisdom, he assured us that the short swim was “too easy mates!” and that we should absolutely take the plunge and attempt the journey. Brimming with newfound confidence, we splashed into the balmy Indian Ocean and began our adventure. Unfortunately, our friendly samaritan forgot to mention that halfway across the narrow passage towards our desired island, the water level lowers substantially to a mere 3
or 4 inches high. While in any other circumstance this would have actually been monumentally helpful in our island conquests as we could have simply casually strolled to the island as opposed to swim, the beautiful, soothing sand from the beach quickly transformed into jagged, blistering coral. We realized our catastrophic error in judgment too late, and as punishment we spent a solid 20 minutes (no joke, 20 flippin minutes) frozen in place debating whether to turn back or push onwards and endure the pain. I can imagine our dire situation appeared quite comical from the shoreline; 10 Americans glued to the same spot, all yelling at each other and occasionally yelping in pain. Meanwhile, in addition to the slow frying of our skin by the scorching Australian sun, the slow churning of the ocean continually pushed and tugged at our aching feet and caused countless cuts and sores. Despite our best efforts to stay as still as possible as to avoid any more painful coral wounds, the constant pulling of the tide proved to be a worthy adversary. Finally, after what seemed like hours, we discovered that the best course of action was crawl on our bellies, using our hands as support while floating in the trickle of shallow water. Despite a few bloodied feet, we survived and were able to laugh off the expedition that failed so miserably (after we kicked the crap out of the lying Australian first of course. Kidding). After another night of fun and frolic (and more stunningly beautiful stars), we packed up our gear, piled into the two cars, and hightailed it back to Fremantle. Overall, the weekend was a phenomenal and unique experience, and one that has been one of the many highlights of my time thus far in Australia.
-Another wildly successful Tuesday night of basketball. This week I recruited a few of my fellow American ballers to come join in the fun. A couple other new guys showed up to the gym as well so there were some extra subs available, and overall the competition was much more fierce than last week and we all had a blast! So so so glad that this has become part of my weekly schedule.
-I continued my other weekly tradition as well by going on a nice, relaxing bike ride around Fremantle. I wound up at a gorgeous beach and spent the afternoon there relaxing, reading (it’s hard to believe that sometimes I have reading and homework to do! I mean after all, I am supposed to be “STUDY”ing abroad!), and watching a crazy guy fly past me, literally fly, on a chair attached to a massive fan and parachute. Seriously. Picture on the right.
-Two Footy games have been tentatively scheduled for the Yankaroos over the next couple weeks (one tomorrow night and one next Thursday, wish me luck!). Epic thrashings are undoubtedly in store (with the poor Americans most likely being the victims), but hopefully we can use our newfound fundamentals and skills to hold our own. Regardless, we are all itching to play and saying we are excited would a massive understatement. I’ll deliver some intense in-depth analysis, game overviews, box scores, and individual commentaries shortly following each match.
-My basketball playing buddy Blake took note of my keen interest in picking up on local jargon and developing my Australian accent and decided to purchase me a spectacular gift: a book called Strine. Essentially, Strine consists of dozens of pages of silly Australian terms, as well as countless definitions of slang, and pronunciations that help develop an Aussie accent. I was thrilled by the gift and will undoubtedly spend countless hours poring over this crucially important text (schoolwork=overrated).
-In addition to the continued obsession of the glorious game of 500 (we have continued to add new players as individuals have become interested to learn about what all the fuss is about), we have began playing another group game in the P and O: Mafia! If you have ever played Mafia, you understand the heartwrenchingly tense, beautiful game. If you do not know what Mafia is, kindly go behind the old shed and smack yourself in the face because you are missing out on so much joy in your life (AKA ask me and I will gladly describe it to you).
-I finally caved and trimmed my truly disgusting facial hair. On the other hand, my flowing locks are staying strong and are beginning to show signs of the absurd curls that
-After discussing the differences in education between Australia and the states, I learn this shocking fact from one of my Australian housemates: if you take a year off of school between high school and uni, the government will literally pay you (up to about 500 dollars per fortnight aka two weeks) to go back to school and study. DANG!
-I successfully completed my first midterm in my “math for babies” class and passed with flying colors. However, I nearly threw up (or chundered as the Aussies call it) after looking at the midterm examination scores that were posted online; all 70(ish) student’s scores were posted out of 60, I would say the average was in the low 30’s and there were around 10 students who had single digits (one poor student rocked a 3 out of 60… Yikes!)
-We’ve got a super fun weekend ahead of us with tons of fun things planned so look for another update soon!
More new words/slang:
Spider=Root beer float
“Too Easy!”= Piece of Cake
Pill= Footy i.e. “Oy, pass us the pill will ya mate?”
-That’s another interesting Aussie mannerism; instead of referring to oneself as me, as in “hey, can you please pass me the footy?” many locals would instead say “Oy, pass us the pill will ya mate?” the first few times I heard it, it caught me off guard and I began suspecting that invisible athletes roamed the oval, making plural statements such as these understandable.
Miss you all!
P.S. Just to give you guys all a taste of some of the musical genius I've been experiencing, this is the most popular song in Australia at the moment, it is not uncommon to hear it 3 or 4 times in a single night at one club. Gross. It sounds like a mix between a techno rave and a Jewish bar mitzvah ceremonial song and it makes me want to vomit. It’s lovingly called “We no speak Americano”