Monday, September 24, 2012

Land Ahoy - How we're readjusting to life off Anima

In the weeks leading up to our departure Rene discovered problems with the cockpit roof he built 5 years ago (when we first moved aboard). He worked insanely hard to replace it, making it stronger and better this time around. Because I flew home first, there are no photos of the new cockpit to share but I'm assured it looks even better than the first one.

We bid farewell to Anima, leaving her in 5 star comfort at Rebak Island Marina. Moving off involved sending twelve 20Kg boxes to our family and friends in Australia and taking 40Kg excess luggage each for our flights. My fellow plane travellers found it quite bizarre that I had a sewing machine with me! 

Upon arriving home, I noticed how clean the air is here compared to SE Asia, how little rubbish there is and how many thousands more solar panels there are now!!! In the two years we were away from Brisbane, everyone must have gone solar mad. Almost every second house now has between 8 and 20 solar panels. We also noticed that everyone drives nice cars and has smart phones too. We are a bit behind in this regard as I have been using my old cheap Nokia phone and driving my old trusty (though a little more rusty) car - Boxy. My sister had her for the first year we were away and my brother had her for the second! I love driving and have enjoyed the fast freedom of having 4 wheels again.

We moved in with my best friend in Brisbane, renting her tiny spare room. Jacqui is astounded that we can fit most of our stuff into this small room - for us, it's huge! 
I enjoyed eating lots of fresh dairy though was initially a little confused about the whole 'Permeate Free' campaign that is playing out with various milk brands. Fresh fruit and vegetables also tasted better - especially salad ingredients like Avocados, rocket lettuce and tomatoes. When we arrived it was the middle of winter - a novelty again after having spent the last 24 months in the tropics. I dusted off my warm clothes and had to do some serious self-control to be able to turn off the water in the shower. After not having lived with a shower for SO long, this was probably the most luxurious thing I relished in back on land. Luckily there were no water restrictions or I would have been causing a miniature drought!! 

Pretty quickly the differences became normal and we started working, working, working. Rene jumped right back into his job as a Software Developer, proudly wearing his $100 Thailand suit into the city each day. I have been working as a supply and relief teacher in schools around South Brisbane. Each school is very different and I've (mostly) enjoyed seeing how they run, meeting different colleagues, teaching a variety of subjects and meeting hundreds of students. So far I've taught: English, Maths, Sport, Science, Art, Film & TV, Media, Learning Support, Study of Society, Ancient History, SOSE and Dance.

Working has been better than we'd both been dreading. It's stimulating to feel useful in the world, to be involved with a wider range of people and to be making money rather than spending it for a change! But when things are difficult or stressful, it's easy to reminisce about our cruising days and only remember the good times, not the difficult or stressful ones! 

Fishing in Northern NSW
Readjusting to land life hasn't been too difficult, especially once we accustomed to the high price of petrol and food (no more eating out every day). There was one instance though which I deem story-worthy. I call it 'The Washing Machine Disaster'. This incident reminded me of when we first moved aboard Anima (then Anhinga). Rene was enjoying the view from the top of the mast (unbeknownst to me) while I was doing the washing up inside. The sink hole in our boat is much smaller than in a normal house and it wasn't draining. I used the manual pump to force the grey water (complete with tuna-tin oil and beetroot juice) offboard. Not realising my own strength (or the age of the rubber pump), it burst, flooding the bilge area with both the gross sink water and the brown river water. Yes, the river water was gushing in, quickly filling up the small area. I was calling out to Rene while trying to mop up the water with towels. The water didn't recede, in fact it only increased! I was so green at living onboard that I didn't yet know about seacocks. Rene eventually came down from the mast to a flooding galley and panicked Cerae. He quickly solved the problem by closing the seacock and then we had a long afternoon of cleaning up the smelly, oily, purple-brown mess. If Rene hadn't been onboard, Anima could have sunk! In the recent washing machine version, Rene pulled out the lint cleaning pipes of the front-loading washing machine that we're currently living with. I then put on a load of washing after he'd said it was right to go and went back upstairs only to be shocked when the landlord came knocking on the door saying the whole downstairs area was flooded! The clean-up was easier in this scenario and there was no danger of the house sinking as a result - but the feeling of making a stupid mistake was the same. 

Living on land is definitely easier than on the water but we still miss the freedom of cruising. To cope with water-nostalgia, I bought a small kayak when it was on a half-price sale. My dream of owning a kayak, finally came true! 

Our adventures on the water are definately not over yet.
The best part about being home is seeing our family and friends who we'd missed so dearly while away. Our friends who'd had babies just as we were leaving are now chasing around little toddlers! Time passed quickly while we were away.