Hi! *waves frantically* I haven't been around because I've been vacationing like a real, grownup vacationer. Apart from book release stuff (of which, admittedly, there was a lot), I did not work AT ALL. I wrote no words other than hastily penned emails putting out only the fires that really needed to be put out.
This is what I learned about grownup vacation:
1. Stay offline as much as you can. Nothing's really on fire (unless it is, in which case call 911, or 000 (Australia!), or 111 (New Zealand)). Banking emergencies aside (apparently you need a steady flow of money when you're on the road, whoops!), I didn't need to be online. I popped up to throw pictures around most days, but that was only when I could. Nothing happened that required my assistance. Dude, I work 911, and they don't need me when I'm not at work. I write books, and in that, I'm my own boss. It was a really good reminder that it's okay to step away. (Digital sabbatical once a week? Here I come.)
2. You'll spend more money than you think you will. Especially if you're in Sydney, yo. Twenty-five dollar scrambled eggs and toast? You'll pay it because if you eat one more Kind bar you might die of sunflower seed poisoning.
3. Number of Kind bars I needed to get through two countries in 24 days while staying gluten-free to avoid migraines: 15. Number of glasses of wine I could have a day to stay migraine-free: 0.VERY SAD, PEOPLE. Lala sampled amazing wines. I smelled them. They smelled delicious. Sigh.
4. Everything is worth it. Do it. Find it. BE THERE for it. There were a lot of times I just put away my phone so I could be present, and it's telling that our favorite thing we did (the caving in Waitomo, NZ) was completely sans-camera. No cameras allowed, or we for SURE would have whipped them out while rappeling 300 feet into the mist. And we would have dropped them. Instead, we were there. Falling slowly through the air. Completely engaged.
Some Things, and Later I'll Post Some More
Aug 4: We arrived in Port Douglas, Australia, after 30 hours of traveling, planning to have three days of down time in the small coastal town on the Great Barrier reef before the whirlwind started. It was a great way to get over our jet lag, and we stayed at the amazing Pink Flamingo hotel which had an outdoor bathtub under the stands of bamboo. Ridiculous-sounding birds (one sounded like multicolored bubbles) sang insane songs at us as we reclined in the tub, and it was, pretty much, heaven. From my journal, "The mozzy coil is burning, and the three-story bamboo clanks over our head like men throwing timber." You wouldn't think the sound of timber being thrown would be relaxing, but it was.
There was a hammock for reading in. There were bright colors and a pool and lotus flowers. There was heat and humidity and and mangroves and warm rain. The air smelled like sugar. We rode bikes around town! We ate prawns and oysters! I will not, for your sake, post the picture of the thirteen-foot female crocodile we saw IN THE WILD, because she just kinda looked like a log. But we saw her. And she could have eaten us.
Bathtub, no crocs
Lotus, right outside our room
Ow. I did break out in hives about two days after we got to Australia, but I think that was all the passionfruit I was eating. I did not get stung by a jelly, not even once.
We had some fancy dinners. You have to sometimes. You could see the ocean from our chairs (Harrison's).
Then we went to the Great Barrier reef! This is something I also won't show because I'm sure you can imagine it–the coral, the fish, the three hour boat ride on 5.5 meter seas, the seasickness that ensued… Lala, not me. Poor La. She was a dang trooper. I would not have been so graceful. She just wished for death and held on. (Omg, at one point, I really thought she was dying. I knew we had to get her to hospital after we got back to land, just from the way her eyes looked. It turned out the pink dye in her hair, which had run all over her face in the waves and rain, had dyed her contacts, so she looked positively rabid.)
But the snorkeling was GREAT and we were with the fishies (I love that distinctive scraping noise they make as they nibble the algae off the coral). I have to admit, I even loved being on the boat on the stormy seas. Instead of making me sick, it made me kind of giddy with happiness–a wild, joyful ecstasy that made me think my forebears really did live on ships. This kind of joy is something one must really hide from one's hurling spouse, so I tried to tamp it down as much as possible.
More soon, from Sydney!