I’ve been in Australia for a bit more than a week, and I have to admit it’s been a confronting experience. I suppose it’s up to me to try to put it into words as to why.
I landed in Brisbane Airport after more than 35 hours of travelling or being transient (12 hours in the Santiago Airport). I stayed at my friends’ place, and even there it all felt different. My friend Jon had married while I was away and he had moved out.
I couldn’t make decisions for days without questioning it. Everything was a mental haze. I didn’t really feel like speaking to anyone for long.
For 17 months I was surrounded by Spanish speakers and so instinctively I had to read body language. I had a theory that when I returned I would be overwhelmed by all the English spoken around me, and would be able to read body language extremely well.
That was partly true.
Instead I found in large places I didn’t notice the English spoken around me. It was all just noise and could have been any language.
And reading body language and tone was useful, but I could see quickly when people weren’t interested in what I was saying. Or could see they were not interested in what I was saying, but still cared about me.
I realised this too. I wanted to talk about Peru. They wanted to talk about their lives.
We all just wanted to talk about ourselves.
I bought a ticket to WA to see my family. My brother and his girlfriend recently built a house together. They have a proud Bengal cat. A job that’s only five minutes away in a recently built-up suburb. Big TV. There’s a hot water tap for the kitchen sink, and you get to flush the toilet paper. They let me stay at their place. I sleep on the couch. It’s extraordinarily comfortable.
Everything is spaced out and the houses have front and back yards. I can’t believe I miss the banana and strawberry sellers wheeling their carts on the roads, shouting, “fresas! platanos!” and annoying me while I’m trying to rest.
I made a joke that my brother had to drive his homeless brother somewhere. And then I realised it actually wasn’t a joke. For now I am homeless. I’m looking for work but my industry has changed a bit.
We went to the store the other day to buy food. And when we went through the auto check-out, I couldn’t find plastic bags.
“Oh, you have to buy them,” my brother said. Sometime recently the plastic bag was banned.
My mum, brother and I went to Rottnest Island to take selfies with Quokkas. I guess I wanted to show off to my Peruvian friends. The little marsupials were everywhere and have no fear of humans. We hired push bikes and cycled half the island, and this to me was the type of adventure that made me feel like I was still travelling in Peru.