When you travel, you learn to appreciate the traditions of your home country…
Especially when the traditions at Christmas time involve about twelve kinds of artisanal home-made Christmas cookies, delicious mulled wine, freshly caught carp and my dad´s special potato salad, a fire place burning in a room that overlooks snowy landscape, Christmas markets with gingerbread cookies, wooden decorations and various arts and crafts where you hear traditional Christmas songs sung by choirs, church concerts (including the necessary Ryba´s Czech Christmas Mass), Christmas Eve midnight candle services, a great deal of Christmas traditions and customs (from cutting the apple for good luck to throwing a slipper to see if you´re going to go travelling or become married) and – above all – stunning Christmas decorations made of glass on real Christmas trees of magnificent smells and sizes…
The gifts this year were not brought by Baby Jesus but by Santa. The 24th, which is the Christmas Day and Christmas Eve in the Czech Republic, was a normal working day here but some families – like the one where I am staying, with Becky, Hartley and Carlos – invited friends or relatives or both over for a nice dinner in the evening. We had Sam and Mike coming for mashed potatoes and turkey roll, a few drinks and a sleep-over.
All the main Christmas programme in Australia happens on the 25th (though there are Christmas masses served on the evening of the 24th), when you open the gifts in the morning (thank you for the lovely ylang-ylang essential oil and my first ever body scrub, Santa), have sea-food for lunch (we had shrimps, mussels and octopuses) – and possibly dinner, crack the Christmas crackers (to find a silly little thing inside like a keyring, a quote and a paper crown to wear), listen to Christmas songs all day long and spend the time with family and/or friends, drinking, talking, eating snacks, possibly going to the beach or/and to some café in the afternoon or a restaurant/bar in the evening.
I spent the 24th, which is normally the Christmas day in the Czech Republic, on Shelly beach, swimming and sunbathing, catching up with another inspiring person I happened to meet during my travels, a half-American, half-Porto Rican former student of finances and environmental protection who used to be a wrestling coach for kids, Andre. We enjoyed plentiful conversations about nothing and everything.
The afternoon of the 25th was dedicated to some quality time of lake kayaking with an amazing friend of mine, Ashley, a local Sunshine Coast painter, who I have mentioned previously in my texts. The sunset over the lake with the view to the Glasshouse Mountains is something I shall remember… we enjoyed some sunset lake yoga together too and a visit to Ashley´s friend who owns a house by the lake, surrounded by wilderness and many birds, such as peacocks and kookaburras, who simply arrived to the garden one day and decided to stay. I had a chance to cuddle a kookaburra and choose a few peacock feathers (as the birds shed them every year) for the ASMR treatments I sometimes do.
The 26th here is the Boxing Day, a day of sales and shopping. I joined Ashley early morning for a bit of surfing, but the waves were unfavourable to a good surf so we ended up in the Kawana shopping centre instead of Kawana beach. The shops were packed with people and irresistible offers such as “three for five” and “all for three” so I bought two shirts, two pairs of shoes and enjoyed a nice spa pedicure. Ashley went to that one too but did not truly seem to be enjoying himself and kept saying that “no straight Australian bloke would go to have one of these”. Oh well…
Christmas time in Queensland falls into the summer season and summer school holidays which start usually in the half of December and continue till the end of January. That makes the days in between the Christmas and New Year “family days” of “going to trips”. The beaches were overcrowded and when I met my Czech friend from Grammar School after 17 years of not seeing each other (as she lived in England, Ireland and ended up being an Australian citizen well-established in Brisbane) at Mooloolaba on the 27th we could barely find a place for lunch at the Wharf and a place for swimming among the flags (the patrolled swimmers´ area) on the beach.
Australia zoo the day after was packed with people and it was hard to find an empty seat at the stadium at noon, when the main show with crocodiles and birds was happening – very cool, by the way and if you haven’t been, give it a go!
The same was true for the Mooloolaba Sealife, underwater and marine life centre where Ashley took me on the 29th. I loved the seal shows, so educative and cool, and the jelly fish display as well as the sea horses and sea dragons – their motion is so peaceful and graceful. I touched the star fish and loved the walk through the tunnel with sharks literally swirling above my head with their jaws wide open.
The 30th was my “get fit” and “release the thoughts” day, cycling for hours (probably about 40 km), as the end of the year for me always is a time of great contemplation, this year the more due to all the decisions I have made, the way I live my life now and the travels that force me to move on even if I feel very comfortable somewhere. It is going to be hard for me to leave Australia, the country that seemed so harsh to me in the beginning, as you can read here.
As Ashley says, from every hard moment there is always something good bound to come out of it. I loved my stay in Australia, and that country will always have its very special place in my heart.
Leaving for Cambodia tomorrow, on the New Year´s Eve tonight (which I am going to spend with my friend picnicking at Point Cartwright, up on the hill, watching the fireworks from Mooloolaba and other beaches) shall be filled with contemplation, nostalgia and goodbyes.
May your 2019, the year of destiny as they say, be a truly miraculous one, bringing you blessings and love as well as good health and good luck. May you meet the souls you have been longing to meet, may you experience what you have been desiring. May you live in peace and harmony with yourself and the others. May you overcome whatever you need to overcome. May you be the person you truly want to be and live the life you truly want to live. All the best for 2019!