Read Between the Lines: Lust

A Lust for Life? Sure, why not? (welcome to the digital age) has several different definitions for lust. The two definitions that I find are the most apt?

1) a passionate or overmastering desire or craving
2) ardent enthusiasm; zest; relish

Lust doesn’t always apply to sex. You can lust for many things: life, adventure, knowledge. I have an “ardent enthusiasm” for experience which makes me quite lustful. What better way to describe the way my sister and I approached international relations?

Then again, there are many cases where lust is really just lust …

On our second night in Perth, Julia and I were taken to a bar in Fremantle by a group of Australian men. It was my first experience in a bar, never mind that I was underage. It’s amazing the things you can get away with when you have an accent. I lost a lot of money that night by handing the wrong bills to bartenders. (In Canada, $5 bills are blue and $10 bills are pink. It’s the opposite in Australia. Can you understand my drunken confusion?)

As a seventeen year old, self-conscious Canadian, drunk in a bar for the very first time I politely had the time of my life. I suppose I was attractive, especially when one considers the accent (eh?). I certainly have never been as beautiful as my sister, who has the added advantage of being incredibly smart and charismatic.

We all spent the night dancing, drinking, and setting a precedent of debauchery and excess that would carry us through for the rest of the trip. I had my eye on an Australian soccer player (not FIFA style, just a small recreational league, but soccer is still soccer, and soccer players are still hot). His name was Troy and he was 6 feet tall, gorgeous, and self-deprecatingly referred to Aussies as “Brits who have been left in the desert too long”.

I am sorry to disappoint, but you won’t be reading any descriptions of “throbbing members” or “heaving bosoms” I don’t need to give you details, this isn’t a Harlequin novel. Besides, I was absolute rubbish that night … why would I want to relive the scary details?

The entire experience was awkward and exciting, and I had no idea what I was doing (add to that the handicap of being wasted and you’ve got yourself a Grade A failure). When we were finished, Troy awkwardly searched for his keys (left underneath the front wheel of his car, not in his pocket as suspected) and tried to avoid detection from my Aussie Mom as he left.

I saw him more than once after that in the two weeks we stayed in Perth. Our encounters were always awkward and made worse by my chronic SBS (snobby bitch syndrome).

The entire experience put an end to my rose coloured outlook on One Night Stands, though it didn’t deter me …


My second encounter with lust happened at Namoi Hills Cattle Station, an overnight stop in the small town of Dingo. This was also the closest we got to an Outback Experience. Red dirt, big skies, and open bush-land – just how I had always imagined Australia.

Before I get into the details about my “encounter”, I should tell you a bit about Dingo.

Dingo is Namoi Hills Cattle Station. There is nothing there but a few cabins, a large hall, cows and a bar. Despite this, or perhaps because of this, Dingo was my one of my favourite places. This is the only stop where the Southbound and Northbound buses of Oz Experience meet and with that many travelers between the age of 18 and 30 how can you not have a party?

The night started out with both busloads of travelers line dancing to Shania Twain (soon I will tell you who’s bed my boots were under) which was immediately followed by a full contact tug-of-war.

Drinks at the bar were rather expensive but my sister and I managed to befriend a group of English boys who had a few bottles of Bundaberg Rum. The five of us sat behind the cabin, doing shots and exchanging bus stories (they were on the Northbound bus while we were making our way south) before joining the rest of the crowd in the hall for club style dancing. Julia was then joined by our English friends from the southbound bus and had a great time being the token Canadian.

My memory of this night is a little hazy so I am not sure how I went from doing shots with the English lads and Julia to dancing on a table to the Hamster Dance. I do, however, distinctly remembering attempting a dosey-doe and nearly falling off the picnic table I was boogieing on.

So much for shaking what my Momma gave me.

I had lost my balance while trying to do one of the kicky things (that is the technical term, I believe) I had learned while line dancing and was frantically flailing when I was caught around the waist by a gorgeous, 6’3 Swedish man whose name I can only assume was Sven. (What other Swedish names are there?) Sven held me around my waist until he was sure I had regained my footing and then, with a boisterous laugh, he left one hand on my waist, took my hand and started to dance with me.

It was an absolutely brilliant moment.

Sven and I danced for several songs, the proper hand holding turning into grinding and near-inappropriate behaviour. We were interrupted when Julia caught my eye. With a quick kiss, I left Sven on the picnic table and jumped down to talk to my sister who was still with a few of the English boys.

To this day neither of us can agree on what was actually said though we have managed to figure out the gist of it.

There was a young man across from us who I thought should be dancing. Julia thought I meant that he should be dancing with me. (The Swede was, unfortunately, forgotten at this point). My sister went over and told the man to dance with me, before heading back to her English minions.

Josh was simply amazing. He was tall, dark, brooding and Irish (read: dreamy).

The two of us eventually made our way to a picnic table behind the hall and enjoyed ourselves with “ardent enthusiasm”.

I went to bed alone that night leaving Josh alone behind the hall, drunk and crawling into his cabin.

Finally, I had done it right. (Boy, had I done it right, if you know what I mean!)

It wasn’t until the next morning that I realized the truth.

I had been running late and was one of the last people to board the bus. Julia and our English friends were already seated near the middle of the bus, chatting. A cold feeling of dread tickled down my spine as I walked towards them. They had stopped talking in that way that people do when you just know they had been talking about you. Julia was horrified and the boys were laughing.

I held my head high, refusing to be embarrassed … at least until they showed me Josh through the window.

Gone was my 6 foot Irish man, in his place was the Lucky Charms Leprechaun, sans top hat and standing no higher than 5’7″. I would have thought they were joking if I hadn’t recognized his mannerisms. And the worst part? He wasn’t even Irish! Josh was from Rhode Island, he’d only been wearing an Ireland sweater.

Fuck the hearts, stars and horseshoes, clovers and blue moons. There was no pot of gold at the end of that rainbow.

Strike two for one night stands.


My final lusty experience in Australia ended before it even really began.

It was our final stop before reaching Sydney; we were spending the night at Seal Rock (a group of cabins by the ocean). Everyone was gathered on the beach for a final hurrah and by midnight there were only a few of us left (the rest having gone to bed). Alan, my new (real) Irish friend, was cuddling with me on a bench around the fire.

(In my young mind, cuddling is apparently synonymous with keeping your arm around a drunken girl so she doesn’t fall off the bench.)

We were all inebriated at this point. Julia and I had drunk about two boxes of cheap red wine and were having a good time. In the spirit of alliteration you can just refer to us as those Classy Canadians from now on.

Julia and I had befriended Alan and a Dutch man named Bart a few days before and the four of us were just sitting around chatting. Bart had really taken a shine to Julia and Alan and I had bonded when he had asked me if I was American (rather than answering with a no I responded by asking him if he was British. It was a clever moment that you had to be there to really appreciate).

Eventually Julia and Bart left to take a walk on the beach. Alan and I were left alone.

Alan, a native Dubliner who loved Canadian girls and travel. Alan, who wrote poetry and loved Guy Ritchie films. Alan, who looked vaguely like Colin Farrell if you squinted in the dark. Alan, who had spent an entire evening listening to me whine about my past experiences with awful men and told me I was too pretty to waste my time on jerks.

How could I not be smitten?

We sat there on the bench for an hour, just talking. When he was finally sure I could hold myself up he leaned in to kiss me.

I’d been waiting for it for days. I leaned forward to kiss him back …

… and continued leaning forward until I fell off the bench, my face level with his shoes.

“You have nice shoes,” pause a beat, “because they’re brown”.


Alan didn’t kiss me that night. Being a true gentleman, he helped me up and walked me back to my room. Alone.

Sans sexy Irish man.

The silver lining? I managed to not vomit on his nice, brown shoes.

It’s the little things that put life into perspective.

Read Between the Lines: Australia, not Oz.

Chapter 1: Beginnings Start at the Beginning: A Land Down Under

What are the first things that come to mind when you think Australia? Come on, give it a try. Put this down, close your eyes and try to think of five things that are distinctly Australian.

… Well?

My five things?

1) The Platypus
2) Beer, Beer, Beer
3) Ayers Rock
4) Crocodiles
5) Poisonous and disgusting things: snakes, spiders, blue ring octopus … vegemite

I never thought about the people or the sheer amount of land in Australia. Granted, coming from Canada, large open spaces aren’t really that unusual.

I always had a very specific image of Australia before my trip. To me Australia was fantasy. Now, I don’t mean fantasy in the sense that I dreamed about it. No, what I mean is that, to me, Australia was more of a different earth (as opposed to Middle Earth, my second destination … ba-dum-ch!)

Considering the amount of thought I have put into trips since, it is appalling how little preparation I made before leaving for Oz. I researched my trip by listening to the Waltzing Matilda and watching Crocodile Dundee religiously. To prepare myself for the Outback I watched episodes of Crocodile Hunter and practiced saying “Crikey!”

I really knew nothing about the Land Down Under before leaving, beyond what I’d heard from popular culture (and I was very interested in trying a Vegemite sandwich … in retrospect, not one of my greater goals).

You see, originally I had wanted to go visit a friend of mine in Japan. I was planning on going to Tokyo for two weeks, ready to return home with the arrogance of a ‘seasoned’ traveler. Obviously this did not happen.

I will not bore you with the details of how this plan evolved into FANZ. It’s not an interesting story and there is no real way for me to make it sound interesting without lying outright. So, rather than perjure myself, I will just gloss over the entire “before” and get right to the “during”.

Julia, my sister, and I left Victoria two days after my last exam of grade 11, which really didn’t leave me much time to process the fear. It really wasn’t until the night before I left I realized I was leaving the country. Underage. Without any real supervision. And with a $20,000 limit credit card.

Do I really need to tell you how little sleep I got that night?

Panic doesn’t even come close to describing what I was feeling.

Every memory from my last exam to the moment I arrived in Sydney is a blur. The only distinct impressions I have from those days are more the feelings of sheer terror than actual memories. It took us two flights to get to LAX (one from Victoria to Vancouver and then one from Vancouver to LA). Julia was able to switch seats with a student traveler on the fourteen hour flight to Sydney so that we could stay together. Her name was Amanda (“but, like, everyone calls me Mandy!”) and she was oh so very excited! She was, in fact, so excited you could hear the exclamation points at the end of each sentence.

Luckily Mandy managed to knock herself out with gravol and a rum and coke pretty early on in the flight.

I remember thinking I was the only person on the plane unable to sleep. The charming woman in front of me spent the entire fourteen hours with her seat extended as far back as possible and at this point in my life I was far too timid to do the same to the person sitting behind me.

The only thing I really remember from that flight? Watching the SNL episode guest starring Britney Spears four times in a row. Each time, as the sleep deprivation set in, the episode became funnier. By the time we arrived in Sydney I was sure Britney was a comic genius.

I’ve managed to resist re-watching that episode in the ten years since my trip. Why mess with a good thing?

The real adventure began when we arrived in Sydney. We were both miserable. Julia was still groggy from her drug induced sleep on the flight and me? Well, I was running off zero sleep in what had now reached 30 hours. (30 hours you ask? 23 hours of transit time, and 7 hours of panicking before we left). I had literally flown past exhausted (about 6 hours over the pacific) and had now reached a degree of perky rarely seen outside of pep squad.

Sorry Canada, but we didn’t exactly give off the greatest first impression.

We had just over an hour to get our luggage, catch the shuttle bus, and to travel from the International Airport to the Domestic Airport. Easy, right?

No. No it was not.

Our luggage hadn’t arrived. It was not still at LAX. In fact, our luggage was not even in transit. Somehow one of the lovely ladies of airport employ had coded our luggage as YQY instead of SYD. Our luggage was safely set aside at an airport in Nova Scotia. How they managed to get the two mixed up is beyond me … the two Sydney’s aren’t even spelled the same: Sidney versus Sydney.

They say adversity builds character.

To those people, I say “$@*& off”.

Four drops of Rescue Remedy, a promise that our bags would arrive in Perth in two days, and two very irate Porter girls and we were on our way.

Next on our list? Engine trouble.

We made it to the gate with 15 minutes until boarding only to find out the flight was delayed. You’d think that 4 hours of Crazy Eights would make you sick of the card game but you would be wrong.

Crazy Eights Countdown (from Kings) is the only thing that got me through those 4 hours. Julia, who is terrified of flying, nearly had an aneurysm when they told us our flight was delayed due to an engine breakdown. Add 3 more drops of Rescue Remedy.

(As an aside, for those of you who have never heard of Rescue Remedy: Rescue Remedy is an herbal “calming agent” that has the same ingredients as Horse Tranquilizer.)

The plane was disgustingly hot by time we were finally able to board (the air conditioning had to be turned off while they had “performed routine maintenance” on the broken engine). While this created an incredibly uncomfortable environment, it also led to our first taste of Australian hospitality.

Free drinks for “mature” passengers!

Three XXXX Beer combined with the lack of sleep and the rescue remedy made for an extremely pleasant journey. Even my sister enjoyed the flight and we moved from crazy eights to Egyptian War and a few hands of Golf (the card game, no putters involved).

We arrived in Perth without further incident, meeting up with our Aussie Mom and her son and just generally and genuinely having a good time.

And so begins our two and a half month journey.

Now, rather than bore you with the details of our time in Australia sight-seeing (a park! a parrot! the ocean!) I will just continue on with the highlights and have you fill in the blanks however you want.

To fully understand where I am going with this you first need to know what makes a trip truly epic.

The Seven Features of a Successful Trip:

  • Wrath
  • Gluttony
  • Lust
  • Envy
  • Pride
  • Greed
  • Sloth

Recognize those? Than you must be a seasoned traveler (or a staunch Catholic).

Have I offended you? Then stop reading. I don’t mind, honest.

Are you curious? Good. Read on.