Is Valentine’s Day a great excuse to show the person you love how special they are to you or just a load of commercial crap? I’ve partnered up and been friends with people who most definitely subscribe to the latter. So would this Valentine’s Day travelling in Australia be any different? As if.
Actually, it was pretty different, but not in the swept-off-my-feet-romantic-different. For the last few weeks I’ve been going along to Tuesday night climbing, food share and salsa sessions (yes, an odd combination but it works) just outside of Byron, meeting some truly top people from all over the world.
This Tuesday, Valentine’s, was particularly quiet at the climbing session. I guess people had dates planned, expensive evenings of fine food and chilled wine and rose petals. But we weren’t deterred.
After a couple of hours climbing the low wall set up, we called it day. Despite others doing overhangs and graceful course completions, I had stuck to what I think was the easiest route and had made some progress, a big reach across the ceiling being my pièce de résistance before I crashed onto the mat. I was happy to leave it there. I hadn’t fallen on anyone, let alone fallen for anyone.
A few of the guys disappeared, leaving Sim, our host, with five Brazilian-French Canadian-Swiss Italian-English girls. What a dinner date. Lights were dimmed, candles lit, food dished up.
A few more people showed. Two more lovely guys. Another beautiful Brazilian girl. Just in time for some salsa and forró. And the boys really knew how to dance, which is always a bit surprising. But it was great. ‘I saw so many people smiling and having a good time’, said one guy after he had gone along to his first salsa class a few months back, ‘So why not?’ ‘It’s a great way to meet girls’, admitted another.
I thought back to UK salsa sessions. Yep, mostly females. And a lot of middle-aged females, possibly hoping for a Latino lover to shimmy into their life and rev things up again. But then, what’s age got to do with it really? Most women I know would enjoy getting swept off their feet occasionally, whirled around, held close.
So back to the gathering, and the guys led, and us girls took turns, although for some reason I was considerably more held back than usual. Who knows why? But I learnt a little and danced a bit and it was fun. The Brazilian girls taught us some moves, got everyone onto the forró. Rhythmic, difficult, intimate. ‘It’s best to do this with someone you really connect with’, one told me. And again I thought to the loves of my life and none were really the dancing type. Non-Valentines, non-dancing. Hmmm.
So anyways, climbing and eating and dancing in Australia on Valentine ’s Day with a small international crowd. Could I have done this if I wasn’t travelling? Probably, but only if I had chosen to settle somewhere as random and quirky as Byron Bay and was fortunate enough to meet the right people. Happy Valentines? Yep, it was.