This week had a rough start for almost no reason. I had two beautiful runs in a row on Sunday and Monday; Sunday, I ran the access road again and did some cleaning and chores around the Centre, including helping to clean the dongas, which was very needed. I was able to relax a little bit on Sunday, which was lovely, but apparently not quite enough. On Monday, Ashley and I took the students to run around Lake Barrine, a nearby crater lake formed during a volcanic eruption. The lake itself is beautiful, and watching the mist rise off it was a treat during my run. I may have pushed myself a little too much, however, because I spent the rest of the day feeling exhausted and downhearted.
I think that this transition is more difficult than many of the others I have made, in part because it feels like such a long term decision. I am very far from almost everyone that I love, and I regularly feel like life is moving on without me. I made the decision to apply here with a lot of recklessness in my heart, and not a lot of forethought about what it would really mean to be gone like this for such a long time. I think it’s been easy to dwell on just how long a haul I’m looking at and feel discouraged. I am struggling a bit to feel like I fit in; admittedly, I’ve felt that a lot. When I came home from school, I felt like I was struggling to fit in with my family again. As much as I love and treasure my friends from school, sometimes I didn’t feel like I fit particularly well there. It’s nothing new; it’s just discouraging and challenging when I’m fighting so hard to keep a positive outlook on it and not reveal to very many people how upset, tired, and discouraged I really am.
It was good, then, to leave on Tuesday. My official day for the week was shared with Ciara and Ashley, and as ambitious as we are, we decided to take our day and drive to Cairns to explore. This meant not only access to legitimate internet, but also a chance to skype with my family, which helped me feel better. The sunshine and the beach didn’t hurt either; I even managed not to get sunburned! We ate two excellent meals on the Esplanade and poked around the town for various shopping needs. It was a lovely day, but it also meant we got back later than I hoped. This was only a problem because, once again, at 5:30, Ash and I were up to take students on another run, this time to Lake Eacham.
The weather this week has been new and exciting, and the weather on Wednesday morning was no exception. While it poured rain on Monday, it was incredibly foggy and cloudy on Wednesday morning, to the extent that I couldn’t allow students in the lake because I couldn’t see them to guard. The weather continues to be a source of confusion, interest, and exasperation for me – and it’s still the dry season!
Nevertheless, the week progressed on; we made a trip to Atherton on Thursday to stock our med kits and mail some things while the students spent the day in class. The most interesting part of Thursday was the evening, when Doug, a member of the Ydinji tribe came to speak to us. The centre is on what was originally his family’s land, and so he and his family come to welcome us to their land and to speak about their country and their idea of place. He was a very interesting person with whom to speak, and it was enjoyable to talk to him and hear about his experiences as an indigenous person in this area.
On Friday, we started the day with our usual volunteerism. My group volunteered for an organization called Landcare in Yungaburra; it’s primarily composed of retirees who are working on replanting an area along Peterson’s Creek, and we helped them with their project. As I said last week, I truly enjoy short spurts of manual labor. I not only feel like I get to work out some frustration, but it’s very mindless, and so I feel very clearheaded while I’m working. I ended up heading into Atherton again on Friday afternoon with Justus to speak with Christine Doan, who is not only an Olympian in dressage, but also does a lot of environmental work in the Malanda area. It was very entertaining to speak with her not only about her experience with horses, but also about her work in the area. She will be coming to speak with our students later in the semester, and I’m excited not only to hear her speak further, but also to see the students’ reaction to her gregarious personality.
Saturday morning began with an incredible trip to the Yungaburra Farmer’s Market. It was full of interesting artisanry, from plants to pots to the locally grown coffee and chocolate. I purchased a plant (highly ironic, I know, to buy plants in the rainforest) to take care, which I find very soothing. The rest of the day was consumed with working on making sure the med kits were fully functional. Mookie and Dan haven’t been feeling particularly well (hoping it doesn’t hit me next!), so while Dan took a nap and Ashley helped with a climate modeling workshop, Mookie, Ciara, and I finished up the med kits.
And finally, today was Ashley’s birthday! She and I had a very lazy day (it was so warm today, we just lazed around!) and I made her a cake this afternoon. I made Rose Levy Berenbaum’s Devil’s Food Cake with a couple of tweaks; mainly, I added cinnamon and nutgmeg per Ashley’s request. It was a lovely day, and a very good end to a week that started off so poorly.