Remembering the outback

By drienne Bossi

For a little over four months I have been putting off organizing the heaping mass of photographs from my five months abroad in Australia. As I begin the long and arduous task of organizing 32 rolls of film, I can’t help but reminisce. I can’t help but think about what I was doing at this mid semester point half a year ago when I went on a much different spring break trip than this March’s jaunt to Minnesota.

I was booked with Cape Trib Connections (short for Cape Tribulation, the Australian rain forest) to go on a three-day outback safari into the lava tubes, gold mining, and then onto the tableland areas of northeastern Australia’s interior. Like my trip to Minnesota to visit friends from my semester abroad, my Australian spring break in October was my chance to get away from the monotony of daily life.

The uniformity was beginning to gnaw at my sanity.

But my bag was so heavy.

No, I can’t just call it heavy. It was a three-foot tall hulking mass of my life zippered in a backpacker’s holy grail of a bag. So much for getting away when I brought every worldly possession with me.

I moved in slow motion while the rest of the world looked on in awe as I lugged my bag the 12 feet from the hostel front desk to the four-wheel drive land rover minibus. With arms of rubber, I strained to heave it onto the olive green trailer.

Heath, our driver and senior guide, introduced himself like a 13-year old boy in a symphony of voice squeaks and pitch changes. The other guide, Dan, bellowed his introduction in an Australian accent thick enough to require sub titles.

Then all of the passengers had a turn to tell their story. “State your name, age, and occupation,” Dan said while smiling at his witticism.

There were the two Belgian guys, Renalto and Tiery. Renalto had a goatee that was an act of God, a perfect equilateral triangle. Each corner appeared to be an exact 60-degree angle. I caught myself staring at this marvelous geometric accomplishment growing on his face while formulating grand schemes of how I could sneak up to him with a protractor to determine the precise angles in which his stubble grew.

My turn.

“Hi,” I said. “I’m the token American female who over packed. Please spare me from your blonde jokes.”

Then there were the two English chaps, Allister and Martin, fondly nicknamed “the pomes.” “‘Pome’ I’ll explain for the dumb Americans on board,” Allister playfully said as he winked my way, “is pronounced POM-eee and stands for prisoners of mother England.”

Then Martin introduced himself. He said he was a computer programmer, but I think he really meant to say he was a pervert. Martin was just reaching the beginning stages of what I predict to be a long and arduous mid-life crisis. He was constantly trying to hold conversations with my breasts. Numerous times he tried to prove to himself that he still had game, that women wanted him, and most importantly that he certainly was not a middle-aged balding man with transparent skin and squat hands with Twinkies for fingers.

After the introductions, I climbed into the dusty bus and sat down on the slab of steel covered in worn brown leather called a “seat.” We were instantly enemies. This “seat” was to bear the imprint of my behind by the end of the three-day safari.

Shortly after boarding the bus, we had said goodbye to the last paved road we would see for three days. It didn’t take long for my back to stiffen and my knees to bruise from jostling against the “seat” in front of me. My porthole of a window let the dust from the road billow into my eyes and up my nostrils. The radio fought hard to play Bruce Springsteen over the noise of the truck driving over the bumpy dirt path.

That day, the sun was shining at a blistering 96 degrees. The air was as dry as an asthmatic’s cough.

It was perfect.

This is just what I wanted – a total getaway from the monotony and luxuries of daily life. The wind was in my hair. I had sweat on my brow and dirt under my fingernails. There wasn’t a toilet for a hundred miles. I was in the middle of nowhere with seven strangers from around the globe driving a roundtrip total of 1,000 miles through bush fires, rainforest, dried up waterways, and outback all while towing a pack heavy enough to be concealing a human carcass.

And I loved every second of it.

Adrienne Bossi is a Collegian columnist.