So, you probably have wondered a few times why on earth you ever bothered signing up to our blog. We admit that six whole months of inactivity is indeed quite shocking, but we are back to set it all straight and bring you the latest juicy gossip that has kept our lives interesting and exciting. Whenever we referred to being busy in previous blog posts, we most likely were in a state of delusion as “busy” does not even begin to describe these past six months: ab-so-lutely craaaazy!
Anyone who has kept close tabs on our nomadic lives will have realised that we have now been in Australia for over a year, exceeding our one year Working Holiday Visa, without any news reaching the world of a young Belgo-Luxembourgish/ English couple being deported... Needless to say we have LOTS to tell you!!
January and February 2013
From the 24th of December to the 11th of January 2013, Ben and I embarked on an adventure around South East Asia visiting Singapore, Vietnam and Cambodia. There were ups and downs, as there are with most trips, but overall we had a really good time. If you could not guess from our many blog posts we were especially wowed by the beauty, culture and people of Cambodia. This country has definitely created itself a warm spot in our hearts and has without a doubt made it onto our “favourite countries ever!” list. There is no such list, but I would happily create one just to feature Cambodia at the very top. Thát is how amazing it was! [To those of you, who haven't received our notifications, the blog posts regarding our travels around South East Asia have finally been published with no less than seven accounts to read up on.]
Scott was so kind as to come and pick us up from the airport, which was a great welcome back to Darwin. Scott's brother Mark and his lovely girlfriend Nat came over for a visit and we found ourselves wishing they would give up their lives in Sydney and come and move in with us. We did run the idea past them, but we are not all that sure they realised how serious we were. Although there wasn't much time for fun for me - I was being thrown straight into work a couple of days after our return – we had such a wonderful time.
Whilst Ben was struggling to find any type of work, I was flooded by it. I was in charge of teaching Spanish to an immigration officer and his wife, who were going to be stationed in Chile for three years. The lessons were held at their house: three hours a day, five days a week for a total of six weeks (and thus a total of 90 (!!) hours). It took an enormous amount of effort and dedication preparing all the materials from scratch and tailoring it to their needs. I was up at 5am to make sure everything was set up for the day, and often did not go to bed until long past midnight. My biggest worry, however, was how we would all get along. Six weeks is a long time after all! I really should not have worried: Mick, Andrea (and their two gorgeous boys Tamlin and Oscar) were an absolute joy to spend time with. We all got on beautifully and had lots of fun tackling the language of Cervantes.
Emilie and Oscar
On Australia day, which should have been an official day off for everyone, we were told the lessons should continue as per usual. So to add a bit of fun, we decided to have a Chilean cooking lesson together instead. Ben joined in and we made the most delicious Empanadas and Sopapillas:
It was really great fun! The weeks flew and soon enough it was time to say goodbye. During one of our last days together, I invited our friend Pablo from Costa Rica over to come and cook us all a scrumptious paella. It was the perfect way to say goodbye to six incredible weeks and an equally incredible family. Needless to say, I got a little teary bidding them farewell, but I remain hopeful that our paths will cross again one day.
I never had much time to sit still as around that time, my work at the Darwin Languages Centre (DLC) picked up again. I went from being just a mere French assistant to suddenly becoming the main Spanish teacher to both the children and adults learners as well. The enrolments were streaming in and it became very clear that French would have to make way to Spanish in becoming the centre's most popular European language. Many students complained that they could not make it to the centre's sessions and so I took on one private student after the other. Before I knew it, I was running two busy classes, assisting another, teaching my two Dutch families on the weekends, and tutoring a handful of new students of all ages and backgrounds. Poor Ben struggled to keep up with all their names!
Some of my little Spanish-learning rascals at the DLC
The weather in Darwin drastically changed as we entered the “Wet Season”. Compared to accounts of people who have lived through numerous wet seasons, this year's wet season wasn't very wet at all, which I guess is a good thing. Previous years have seen monsoonal rains go on for days, sometimes weeks in a row, facing the occasional cyclones with giant thunder storms. We had little more than a taster of what wet seasons should be like, and in all honesty, we very much enjoyed it. The rains brought a welcome relief to the sticky 90% humidity levels, the thunder storms lit up the skies giving us a never seen before spectacle of lightning and the unpredictability of the weather brought some excitement into our lives. Scott went out one night, his mammoth of a camera in hand, and took this mind-blowing shot of the lightning.
Lightning, taken by Scott
After a solid month of being a gorgeous house-husband, Ben too got some more luck: after realising that he was not going to be finding the engineering job of his dreams, he applied for casual work and soon later started working at a Mexican Restaurant. The work was no where near great or rewarding, but he was no longer tied at home all day and found enjoyment in keeping busy again. It was a stressful time for us both. I would wake up really early and try to get to bed after midnight, so that I still got some time with Ben after his evening shifts. Stressful, hectic and busy, but oh so rewarding at the same time.
--- [Disclaimer: this next section contains strong language and an out of hand rant. Feel free to skip it all together and head to the next paragraph.] ----
All would have been great if it weren't for our flatmate Kate doing her utmost to make my life miserable. The girl has some serious problems and so when the news arrived that she would be out of our lives on the 14th of February, it was welcomed with open arms and cries of joy and relief. Kate made sure that the day of her departure would not go unnoticed and in the morning, before going to work, her parting words to me were: “You have no idea how fucking hard it is not to be able to punch your fucking face in”, followed by a few more insults here and there. Yes, Kate is a real ray of sunshine. I was busy getting my lessons organised for the day, so did not have the time to indulge in her idle threats. Ignoring her seemed to fuel her hate ever more, but the outbursts that followed went unheard by me. My heart was screaming of joy that I no longer had to deal with her and should she ever have tried to punch me, it would have been a pleasure to take her down. Between you and me: I did fantasise about punching her once or twice – the satisfaction would have been huge - but she just isn't worthy of the attention.
I have added a photo of her below, as a reminder to me that there will always be people in your life who will try and bring you down (for no apparent reason whatsoever). As a reminder that we should cherish those who stand by us and love us for who we are. And that what does not kill you does in fact make you stronger. And finally, as a reminder to Kate not to ever mess with me again.
------- [End of rant and use of strong language. My apologies.] --------
But January and February weren't all work and no play.
Our spare moments were spent with some of our wonderful close friends, mostly involving stuffing our faces with food of some sort
My beloved friend Justin, whom I briefly taught French last year, also cordially invited us to watch one of his football games. Now, “football” isn't the football we know, but there is no educating these Aussies and I right out refuse to call our football 'soccer'. Justin's football is known as AFL (Australian Football League). We went along on a sunny Sunday afternoon after my work, completely clueless. We felt a little bad that we spent the first ten minutes cheering on the wrong team, happy that they were beating the other team (sorry Justin). Thank goodness for smart phones and wikipedia kindly teaching us the rules in no time, so we could sit back and enjoy it. Thank you Justin, for an awesome day of Aussie sports and culture
You can tell how much we enjoyed it, by the fact that we only remembered to take pictures when the game was over, and a beautiful cloud appeared in the sky...