The 9th Chapter from the Short Travel Stories series. Want to read the frst 8 chapters? Click the menu and go the “Short Travel Stories” section to get hooked on the adventures of a backpacker in Australia.
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Chapter 9: Backpacker Life In Byron Bay
A new spell begins in Byron. The funny thing is that I’ve been here for less than a week, but it feels like longer. The quality of my time spent in this place, the intensity with which I live every day and moment makes it feel as if I’ve been living for months in the local reality.
New beginnings and new friends. Chris, one of the German guys that I met on the first day has stayed with me. We’re still sharing a room alongside Adam the Canadian guy, the two German girls, the Scottish bloke and a few new people who are never there. These new beings wake up early and the morning, leave, and come back late at night to sleep.
I immediately click with both Adam and Chris. We have good chemistry and hang out that first day by the beach, just chilling and swimming. It’s one of those days in which you don’t want to do anything other than relax, let the time pass by without tiring your mind and body thinking about important or stressful stuff. It’s as if I’m an external, foreign being to everything that happens around me, like a bird flying during a storm, indifferent to what’s going on, focused on itself. Period.
That is how our day goes by.
The night is different. I introduce them to Gossips, the famous wine that became my faithful friend, and I can bet it’ll become theirs too.
Between one thing and another we end up at Cheeky Monkeys, where I’m flirting with this gorgeous Norwegian girl, when the other two disappear. I come back to the hostel on my own and none of them are there. Instead I find the Scottish bloke laying on his back, eating a Domino’s pizza and watching a series on his computer.
I fall asleep and the next day I wake up to find out that Adam lost his head, in a good way, for an Aussie girl, whilst Chris had a very busy night.
He starts telling us how he met this Swedish girl and one thing led to another and all of a sudden they’re at the beach making out, but the tide is high and the waves are hitting them. So they’re soaking wet and decide to find somewhere else and find a small sort of roof with a bench and a BBQ grill, the classic ones you find everywhere in Australia.
Lights are out and so they jump on the grill to do who knows what. After a while the lights go on, and a policeman is coming towards them to stop them. He asks them for their ID’s and luckily doesn’t fine them, but sends them home.
He goes back to the hostel, soaking wet, with a bittersweet taste in his mouth from the girl he met but the act that was interrupted, and a great pain in his back.
We laugh for a while and then go to the beach, then back to the hostel and jump in the pool.
The Scottish bloke comes out of the room and jumps in with us. It’s the first time the bear leaves his cave. His life has been basically sleep during the day, wake up in the evening, order pizza and watch series. A life I respect but I don’t share.
There we are in the pool, exhausted, with the cold water refreshing us, and the truth is that I feel great. It’s only been one day and a half before my first group of friends left and it’s as if I’ve already moved on, forgotten them.
I go underwater, close my eyes and let my mind get lost for a moment. It’s silent down there, dark, cold but nice, and I feel the pressure of the water embracing me. I realize that the backpacker’s reality includes a lot of defense mechanisms or reactions, and the strongest one is to be selfish.
Not all backpackers are, some of them are actually really sensitive and feel sympathy for everyone they meet, genuine sympathy, the kind that makes them share tears and smiles with a person they just met, or the one that makes them fight for the causes they believe in countries with tough realities. Some of them end up staying to help in those countries; others follow friendships or relationships to the end of the world. I respect them a lot.
Nevertheless, a lot of them defend themselves with a type of indifference that works as a fresh start. They’re like a whiteboard in which they write the name of a person they meet, and the longer they stay with that person, the more drawings they do about them. Then that person leaves and they erase everything: the name, every drawing and detail. Then they write new ones. That way they don’t think about feeling emptiness, or feeling sad or lonely. Life goes on, the adventure goes on. There’s no time to be sad because they are in the trip of a lifetime and they have to enjoy every moment, so they leave behind those who aren’t with them. The sun came out the next day and a new person is there, with their name on board, whilst the names that were erased are long gone and with them their realities and stories. And the time spent with those left behind is now a distant memory that isn’t even relevant because the time is now and YOLO. The adventure is based in today, now and especially in ‘me’.
It’s not based on an ‘us’, and that’s sad. It’s all ‘me’, ‘me’ and ‘me’. When you meet someone else you convince yourself it’s an ‘us’, but no, it’s a ‘me plus a friend’ and that friend is actually the ‘x’ variable. And little does it matter if it’s John or James because anyways what really matters it’s the fixed variable, which is ‘me’. Only that variable will allow me to keep on having a good today and now.