If you find that this entry happens to be brimming with even more wisdom than usual, do not be alarmed, it is simply due to the fact that I am now the grand old age of 22 and am therefore well on my way to being wise and mature. (And I know what you're thinking, I have always been wise and mature, and I agree.) I feel that maturity has been creeping up on me since I was 14 and was forced to write people notes to get out of P.E. because I had "mum handwriting". Given the school I went to, this basically just meant I wrote in cursive and was capable of spelling the word 'excuse'... I spent my birthday in Manly Beach and used my newfound wisdom and ever expanding intelligence to make an investment. I bought 6 books from the library for 50cents each, and then sold them to a bookshop for $2 each. Who says I don't have a head for business? (One of the books was entitled 10 Things To Do Before You're Sixteen so I had a flip through to see how I was doing - turns out I'm pretty on track). My turning 22 brought with it 4 hours of free internet from the hostel, a free cookie from Hong Kong, a birthday pint from a girl in my dorm and a package of chocolate from England. Not too shabby to say I'm all alone and on the otherside of the world without an address. I also gave myself a little birthday treat and inhaled all the helium from the free balloon I received after signing up to Greenpeace, an organisation I am now a fully fledged member of. I'm not sure how it happened, really - one minute I was walking down the street enjoying my Hong Kong biscuit, the next I'm being shown pictures of dolphins being killed and listening to how Nestlé should be damned to hell (they should). I thought I'd better sign up, as an apology for breaking the Great Barrier Reef if nothing else. My last few days in Sydney were spent wandering around milking the free attractions for all they're worth. I was sucked in by another do-gooder trying to sign me up to a project to save some endangered species of spider but I wasn't having any of it. Dolphins I'd miss, spiders not so much. It took all my self restraint not to grab her sandwich board claiming that hundreds of species of spiders were endangered and scrawling GOOD underneath it in thick black marker. As a city, Sydney gets pretty lively on the weekend. Amongst other things, I came across a man dressed in a sari holding a sign saying 'free hugs', a market stall dedicated solely to alpaca ponchos (made from alpacas, not for them), and a parrot rebelling against its exotic nature and eating a cigarette off of the floor. I prefer wandering around on the weekend though - it beats mid-week when the city is full of people in suits showing off because they're using their degrees... Before I left Sydney I met up with some of my dad's cousins and had two actual meals and a birthday pie - it felt like pure luxury after two months of making meals so unappealing that more often that not I reverted to picking out peppers like a child, not to throw them away but because they were the only edible bits of the meal. Anyway, I had rare lamb for the first time in my life and I was definitely impressed - I can now understand why people say British people overcook their meat. Well, I almost understand, I still don't see why the French get so irate about it, I mean, we might overcook it a little but it's not like we serve it in an urn.
I'm in New Zealand now and, after finally being allowed into the country, I have discovered it is even more beautiful than Australia. After being 'randomly selected to undergo a security screening for explosives' at Sydney airport I was frisked so thoroughly I half expected the woman to say she'd call me afterwards. Still, I'm here now, and there are lots of sheep, lots of volcanoes, and the words 'geothermal activity' get thrown around a lot. I'm not sure what it means, but it sounds impressive. I've met quite a few South Americans since I've been here and have been scrubbing up on my Spanish. Given that the last time I spoke it (give or take a few times at uni when Jayne would teach me funny words) was during my GCSE oral exam, it hasn't been going too well. My first conversation went a little like this:
Her: ¡Ah! ¿Hablas Español? (Do you speak Spanish?)
Me: Oh, err, un pollo... No wait, shit, that means chicken, um, un poco? (A little)
Then I realised that she wasn't particularly interested in what was in my schoolbag so left it at that. Maybe I'd have a better grasp on languages if I hadn't gone to a shit school where most of our French lessons were filled with 30 people saying, in thick Yorkshire accents, "err... Je m'a bloody pelle, innit?"