There was a rustling in the room. I opened my eyes, knowing that soon my alarm would go off, but every fibre of my festival, party tired body was willing me on to further sleep. She saw me stir.
‘Don’t mind me’, she whispered, ‘I just need to grab something from the cupboard’.
She, the stranger whose room I was sleeping in, the stranger who had said ‘sure, I’m going to stay out partying for one more night so of course stay in my bed’. She, the stranger who was now sneaking around a stranger in her own bedroom.
She left and by the morning light sneaking in through an unclosed door I saw a photo of a newly familiar and smiling face. The mother of the stranger, I assumed. I tried to think why I recognised her. Everything was a bit blurry. Everybody was a bit blurry. Was she, the stranger’s mother, the weaver from a festival workshop?
The previous evening, two days after the total solar eclipse, me and a crew of dust ingrained folk drove away from the now quietened stages and the shrinking after parties of the Eclipse 2012 festival up in Far North Queensland, Australia, and we made our way towards the Daintree National Park for a dusk dip in the waters of Mossman Gorge.
The buses had stopped running so we waited for the gates to open, 18:00 for free entry, fully aware that we were pushing it on the daylight front. Maps, signposts and curiosity pointed us into the rainforest along wooden walkways until we reached a path that took us down to a pooled area, a scene from numerous Mossman Gorge pictures.
I walked in, up to my waist. Despite a week in the hot, near outback climate of Palmer River where every day some drizzle or drenching were key to a comfortable existence, here at Mossman Gorge the air felt fresh and the waters crisp. I scooped handfuls of water onto my arms and torso, knowing that a full submerge would feel beautifully refreshing but I stood resolute, stubborn, unable to actually dive into the pool. Stop thinking! Just do!
A few guys made their way upstream before jumping from and slipping down rocks. A couple from our group ran into the water and wrapped up in each other, a coil of kissing and wet hair. D-man was heading towards me and I recognised that look in his eyes. Do it! Now! Before he got the chance, I took the plunge. Ah, clean water. Cold water, but clean water, washing away a festival hangover and a coating of dust.
Wrapped up in dry clothes we gathered back at the car park, a subdued, tired team preparing for the first post-festival split. Goodbyes. Shared moments, precious memories, people I may never see again. Even in more settled times, the transience of travelling continues.
And then on to the absent stranger’s house where I fought my body to stay awake, weights on my eyelids, muscles not strong enough to reflex beyond the last mouthful of a quick cook-up. Rest my body on the first proper bed in nearly two weeks, rest my head on a fluffy pillow and then sink, deeply, into a dreamy world of colour and costumes, of humidity and the upward fight and downward choking of a strangler fig.
- Queensland Roadtrip Day 1: The issue of not being on time (travelola.org)
- Queensland Roadtrip Day 2: Fluid definitions of friendliness (travelola.org)
- Queensland Roadtrip Day 3: The need to budget for health whilst travelling (travelola.org)
- Queensland Roadtrip Day 4: Going big (travelola.org)
- Queensland Roadtrip Day 5: And the heat and beat build (travelola.org)
- Art, consciousness and a whole lot of doof at Eclipse 2012 festival (travelola.org)
- Total solar eclipse: the power of the universe puts things into perspective (travelola.org)
- Top things to do in Cairns! (kateanneharrison.wordpress.com)
- Chapter VII: Epilogue – We’ll be back, Mate! (verosupertram.wordpress.com)
- A week in the Daintree – just the beginning (amrenaudtravels.wordpress.com)
- ‘Welfare is tragic for indigenous’ (news.com.au)
- If you go down to the woods today…………. (niamhonleave.com)