I started traveling exactly three months ago today. Along the way I have been intrigued, elated, fascinated, amused, delighted, introspective, questioning, grateful, honored, irritated, challenged, scared, and a myriad of other adjectives too numerous to mention. For the past few days, however, I seem to have been paralyzed by apathy.
I am in Byron Bay at the moment. It is a resort town on the mid-East coast of Australia. It is a beautiful place with rugged, rocky coastlines and lovely beaches. In many respects it is a great deal like the Outer Banks of North Carolina, which was my home for 11 years before moving to Sarasota, Florida this past January. The town caters to tourists and prices are high. Surfers flock here to live their dream and soon fall into the destructive cycle of working less and less and partying more and more. Businesses have a difficult time getting enough help and even when they do, there is not enough affordable lodging available to house them.
Since arriving in Byron Bay, I have done very little. One day I took a trail to the easternmost point of Australia, but aside from walking the beach each day, I have done little else. This seems to have started when I arrived in Australia. The apathy was accompanied by pain – the pain in my neck and jaw returned, my hips went out, and my bones ached all over.
I have a theory about this. I thrived when I was in SE Asia. I love the warm weather – the hotter the better. Then I flew off to New Zealand, where it was winter and much colder. Initially it wasn’t too bad because I was on the North Island. But when I landed in Queenstown on the South Island it was much colder. In Queenstown I chose to stay at Deco Backpackers because they offered free wireless connection for the computer. I discovered too late (I’d already paid for the room) that they didn’t turn the heat on every day until 4 M and they turned it off again at 10 AM. I added a blanket and an extra duvet to the bed and slept in sweats and woolen socks that I bought at the secondhand store. During the day I wore four layers, including a wool-lined coat that I also purchased. I froze my butt off. When I arrived in Sydney, it was a bit warmer but still not warm enough for my taste. Don’t get me wrong – I have loved all these places and would come back without hesitation (albeit during their summer season). It’s just that I am discovering how very sensitive I am to the cold.
In Byron Bay it is even warmer (the temperatures have been high enough to wear a swimsuit on the beach one of the four days I have been here) and I am beginning to feel better. I am thawing out. Each day I feel my muscles unclench and relax just a little bit more. Today I am almost pain free – blissfully so.
I am learning to be kind to myself. Not to push myself or demand so much of myself. With long term travel it is absolutely necessary to do this. If I feel tired or have low energy, I give myself permission to do nothing for a day, or two, or even three. I find I can learn just as much about a place by vegging in a cafe for a couple of hours and eavesdropping on nearby conversations as by hiking its trails and seeing its sights – perhaps more! I leave Byron Bay today, bound for Cairns (CANS) in the northeast corner of the country. Since Cairns is near the equator the temps will be much more to my liking and I’ll be back to my old self in no time.
Now, what do I do about the fact that I miss my family and friends so much and am suffering from homesickness?