First night on Ton Sai. Ko Tao is now behind me, and it's been a week since I saw any of my diving friends from Sairee. And who should I happen to bump into — walking right past me on the beach — but Caroline! Turns out that she's been here — along with all the Canadian dudes from the course — for a few days. Naturally, I was obliged to join my old buddies for a few drinks tonight: especially since it's their last night in Ton Sai, with their destination for tomorrow being the island of Ko Phi-Phi. It seems that there's only one thing, and one night, that everybody remembers about me from Ko Tao — when the crew first saw me this evening, they all greeted me with: "hey, it's vomit boy!" Uhhh... yeah, thanks guys :\.
I was walking through the Christmas market in Salzburg this afternoon, with Lisa, when I couldn't help but notice some dried figs for sale in a stall. This wouldn't have been such a noteworthy moment, were it not for a little fact that Lisa explained to me earlier today: the word "fig" (with different spelling?) is apparently quite a rude word in German. If you tell someone you want a "fig" in Germany, then you will supposedly receive a stinging slap on the face. Anyway, they weren't labelled "figs", they were labelled with the equivalent German word "feigen": but hey, that sounds like a few other things in English, doesn't it now? Clearly, the fig is simply a dirty fruit, no matter what language you name it in.
Last night was a big night — but it wasn't until this morning that I realised just how big. As far as I can remember, all that happened was that Stef and I returned home at around 3am, that I crashed straight into bed (I remember tucking in), and that the adventures ended then and there. My memory is that I slept solidly for the rest of the night, and that I woke up at around 11am, groggy yet otherwise fine. But apparently, there was an additional epilogue to the annals of the night, and one of which I have no memory whatsoever. It seems that for the second time on this trip (and in my life), alcohol has left a gaping gap in my memory. I experienced a Belgian beer blackout.
For something completely different, today uncle Mark took me on a little excursion out of Zürich, west to the city of Basel, in order to visit the unique and fascinating Tinguely museum. And to see the special exhibit that was on there. And for a nice lunch. And just to see beautiful Basel. Susi couldn't make it — she had something else on for most of the day — but we enjoyed ourselves nonetheless.
I couldn't help but notice the trees on the side of the highway, during this morning's ride east from Sciacca. Call me a delusional Aussie drongo if you want, but I could have sworn they were gum trees. Or at least — if they weren't — they were some kind of Sicilian tree that sure as hell looks an awful lot like a gum tree. I suspect that the latter is the case. How could they have gum trees in Sicily? I know they've exported them to California, to the UK — even to the highlands of Peru — but surely not to Sicily. Anyway, some of them looked to be going brown for the autumn as well — and since Aussie gum trees are evergreen, that would conclusively indicate that they're something else. Anyway, what do you think — gum or gunk?
This North African balloon-maker and clown caught the train down with me this afternoon — from Paola to Villa San Giovanni — and then stayed with me, on the ferry across to Messina. It was hard to communicate with him — my Italian sucks, and his English is no better — but he's a really friendly guy, and we were buddies while our paths crossed today. The first thing that I did in Sicily, was go for a coffee with Wahmoud.
This afternoon, Christina and I were just about to make our way back from Bristol to Bath, when we bumped into a super-friendly, super-random local. Next thing we know, we're at the bar of the "White Lion" pub in downtown Bristol, guzzling some fine dark local ale, and getting to know the crazy but colourful characters of this city. It wasn't planned; but once done, it sure as hell wasn't regretted.
I only just met Yuri this afternoon, but it didn't take long for me to discover what a crazy bugger this guy is. At about 6:30pm this evening, Yuri comes up to us and says: "hey guys, let's go on a hike to Palmas, the next beach down on the island". It was getting a bit dark by then; but nevertheless, we thought: "yeah, what the hell, whatever, let's do it". So Yuri, Kerry, Larissa, Tom and myself set off for Palmas — as darkness encroached on the island — armed with little more than our boardies and our flip-flops (and, fortunately, a few flashlights). We had a few adventures on the trip, but it was all good, because we made it there and back in the end. Most of us, anyway.
After we said hello to all the animals on the farm in Pilcopata this morning, we went on a little walk through the fields at the back of the property. In one of the (many) pineapple fields that we passed through, we were shown the "old airport". This consisted of a single abandoned, overgrown Cessna plane, which apparently hasn't moved from its resting place for about 15 years, and which is totally covered in vines and bushes. Would have been good fun landing one of those around here, once upon a time.