Pei's a dinky-dai Aussie girl from the Hurstville area, in Sydney's south. Her family's of Chinese origin, although she can barely speak Chinese herself, and considers herself to be as true-blue as the rest of 'em. Pei's travelling for several months, and has just arrived in Europe from sunny Thailand, where she's been backpacking for the past several weeks (so I had plenty of questions to ask her — since I'm off to Thailand after Europe). I went out with Pei and with several other people at Gulliver's House this evening, for a bit of dinner and fun.
This unique couple are staying with me at St. Christopher's, here in Bath. The guy is from Harvey Bay in Queensland, and he's been travellng and working for about 2 years straight; and (in true Aussie backpacker style) he has no idea when he's going home (if ever). The girl's from somewhere in Scotland, and nobody can understand a bloody word she says — lucky I'm not going to Scotland!
We've been seeing a lot of signs around Newton Center lately, telling us to "vote for Geoff Epstein". Well, this afternoon we finally met the mysterious Geoff himself. In a ridiculous turn of coincidence, Geoff Epstein is an Aussie ex-pat, who's been married and living here in Boston for over 30 years. The signs are up all over town, because he's running in the elections for something to do with the local council. Geoff seems like a friendly guy, although we're not sure whether or not we're related to him.
My uncle and aunt from back home in Sydney, Ivor and Manuela got into Boston late this evening. Like the rest of us, they're here for Adam's barmitzvah, as well as for the general family get-together surrounding it. And like my dad, this is the first time I've seen them, since leaving Sydney 8 months ago. "The other Epsteins" (as I sometimes call them) are in town for about a week, after which time they'll be going on a little road trip through the New England area.
What can I say — he's my dad! And until today, I hadn't seen him for a ridiculously long time of 8 months, since I left Sydney back in February. This morning, my dad flew into Boston (after having a flight cancel on him, and getting stuck in LA for 12 hours), and we had a warm and heartfelt reunion. Like me, he's here for my cousin Adam's barmitzvah. And unlike me, he's not doing a crazy 12-month trip around the world: he's just on holiday for two weeks, and then he goes straight back to Sydney. It's very, very nice to see him again — as with all my family, I've missed him a lot during my time away from home.
Paul's a ragged hippie backpacker, from that place in Oz where you go if there's a wedding or a barmitzvah (aka "Melbourne"), and who (like myself) is doing the South America thing solo. I first met Paul while hiking in the Colca Canyon, in southern Peru, about 2 months ago. Today, I bumped into him again, while snowboarding up at Cerro Catedral. Funny guy, and always up for a beer or two.
Dave's an Aussie guy in his 30s, who's lived for most of his life on Kangaroo Island (off the coast of South Australia), and who works in tourism marketing (was working for SA tourism — so yes, you can blame him for those crappy "visit South Australia" ads). He's down here in South America for a few weeks, before heading off to London, where he's hoping to spend some time doing what every other Aussie does, and working there. I met him on the bus to Bariloche today, and he hung out with me at Patanuk for a few days, before continuing south.
Troy's been hanging out at Casa de Arena, the resort / hostel in Huacachina, even longer than us. Apart from being completely stoned, he's also a funny and a somewhat unbelievable guy. He's been travelling through Central and South America for 15 months, and he hasn't got a ticket back home to Oz. He spent a year backpacking in the Middle East, through countries like Yemen, Syria and Lebanon. And his facial hair is serious enough to even compete with mine. Total tripper.
Two giant, beer-swilling young physiotherapists from Melbourne. These guys were with us on the pampas trip this week, and they proved to provide us with constant entertainment. Always doing such classic Aussie things as randomly jumping in the river and going for a swim; catching small animals and insects; and not being able to fit in their boots. They also found a baby anaconda, all by themselves.