Well, Christmas in the other hemisphere is definitely an experience. It was probably a good thing that it never really felt like Christmas, as it made it easier to not miss being back home too much. It was, by far, the strangest Christmas Eve I’ve experienced, with highlights including shorts and Santa hats, Swedish dancing, and a beach bonfire. The countdown to Christmas Day on the beach was more reminiscent of New Years Eve, but definitely contributed to the festive atmosphere. My new Canadian friend and I then proceeded to go through the crowd of forty-ish people who had congregated on the beach and spread some Christmas cheer by giving everyone a holiday hug. I like to think this gesture was greatly appreciated.
Christmas Day was a bit more relaxed, and I brought in the morning by hanging out in a hammock for awhile before lunch. There appears to be some loophole in the Queensland liquor regulations that states you can serve liquor on Christmas Day, but only if you supply food. Therefore we (we being the group of Christmas “orphans” – all the travellers that have nowhere to go) got a buffet lunch for a $2 donation, and access to the bar for a few hours in the afternoon. A visit to the beach to take the necessary tourist-on-a-beach-with-a-santa-hat photos was followed by a tasty dinner and some cards. All with good company. Overall, a successful Christmas. An early morning chat with my family in Canada and a late night call from my brother in Turkey were excellent additions to the day.
Being removed from my normal traditions on Christmas really helped to put things in perspective – as travelling in general often does. Did I miss the people, the food, and the atmosphere? Absolutely. The pile of presents? Not in the slightest. It’s easy to figure out what you really want when you don’t have much more than you need.
Christmas aside, life is chugging along. I’ve been suffering a bit from “the sand is whiter on the other side” syndrome. People continuing to call me about my resume from Byron Bay hasn’t been helping. Rainbow Beach is a gorgeous place to be, but the sheer size – or lack thereof – is getting to me a little bit. That being said, I’ve been here for about three weeks and the time has flown by. Partially out of restlessness, I’ve begun a vague sketch of an idea for what I want to accomplish here before my visa expires next October (I know the idea of me planning is slightly unsettling – I blame it on working in a travel agency). Things to do include sailing the Whitsundays, visiting Uluru and a friend in the center of the country, hopefully squeezing in a PADI open water course, dropping in on the Gold Coast sometime after the middle of March to visit long lost friends, and landing in a city to become employed again by the middle of April. Too easy.