Location: Geelong, Australia
Its been a month back in Australia and I am doing really well, enjoying myself and this beautiful country. I think I have settled back in better than I would have expected, mainly due to my amazing sister and family, who have been keeping me busy and in high spirits.
Initially it was hard to find work and I was becomming a bit disillusioned by it (I really expected to have my own class at school), but once I accepted that it wasn't going to be, things have been looking up. I presented myself at half the schools in Geelong with my CV and signed up with the only teaching agency... and I have been booked up with teaching ever since! I have up to three different schools ringing to have me teach on the same day. Its really good to be working again after not working for almost 4 months. Of course, I can't wait to have my own class, but CRT teaching isn't that bad, I get to leave at 3.30pm each day!
I am going to live in Melbourne for 4 weeks in March to work at Wallarano (my old school). I will be living with Andrew and Auntie Di who is 7.5 months pregnant. I organised Wallarano when I wasn't getting any work at all, and my old principal was kind enough to book in that month for me. As it turns out, I would probably get enough work in Geelong, but I am happy to be seeing the kids, parents and stafff up there (and get paid for it at the same time!). It will also mean I can catch up with friends in Melbourne.
Geelong is a lovely place to live. Amanda, Heath (her boyfriend) and some of our friends have formed a netball team (we are undefeated). The beach is close and this weekend it will be 38degrees both days.
My big news (Dimitri - you were right about saying I would go back to Africa) is that I am going to South Africa in my Easter Holidays. Neil, the boy I met on my African tour, surprised me with tickets to come and visit him. Of course I said yes, and are really looking forward to seeing him again.
I really hope you enjoy looking at the photos. They took forever to upload, up to 30mins per file!
I hope all is well in your world, wherever you are. Take care, Donna XX
Location: Geelong, Australia
Well I am back home, real home, that is. My beautiful country is nothing like I left it; so dry, just like the middle of Australia or like Namibia. From the air it is red and brown, while inside of my house looks like some state-of-the-art water conversation project. There are buckets under every tap to catch the extra water to put onto the garden as we are in stage 3 water restrictions. I feel like I am in a forgein country at times!
It has been funny coming home and realising that I am back in AUS. I found myself needing to go to the toilet the other day while in public and actually thought that I could go behind that nice bush!! When I got to Sydney I asked Melanie if it was safe to drink the water!!
The end of Dubai was fantastic. On the last day I finally went skiiing at the indoor ski slope. I kind of forgot that there would be no sun to warm me up and didn't rug up enough. It was soooo freezing in there that I had to leave with 7 mins still on my slope time. I did, however, attempt a jump on the 'experts only' run. So funny because I didn't have enough speed and just fell over the edge of the jump, skis going everywhere! Shiralee had me out drinking till 4am on the day my plane left (plane left at 9am). I woke up at 6.45am, wondering why we were both still in bed.... made it with plenty of time though in true Donna and Shiralee style.
Then it was onto Sydney for 2 lovely days with Melanie. I was quite jetlagged and sick, but we still managed to go for lunch, a picnic looking over Sydney Bridge and the Opera House and to the pub for dinner.
I am back in Geelong now and already feel like I am settling in. Amanda has organised a netball team with some old mates, our first game was last night, kicked arse (26 - 6). It felt really good to be exercising again and getting myself into some routines in Geelong, after all, I am living here for the first time in 11 years, rather than just visiting.
My boxes still haven't arrived, so it will be a while before I get all those important things like my memory card with my CV on it (whoops) and my camera cord so I can put photos on here. So you will have to log back onto here in a week or so so that you can finally check out my Africa photos. Thanks for reading and for those of you in AUS, I will hopefully see you in Geelong on Sunday. Love Donna XX
Location: United Arab Emirates
Lucky for me, Shiralee has to tutor a crazy 13 year old Arab boy for 3 hours each morning... I wouldn't be able to keep up with the schedule otherwise!!
Yesterday, Shiralee and I went for coffee at the Dubai Marina, then out for thai food (it was so good, I'm so over beef stew and potatoes), then a few cocktails before the most comfortable night's sleep ever!! I did not know that a bed could be so comfortable... I slept all the night through without waking up once. Unfort I think that my body has realised that I am now in a Western country and it has decided that it wants to be a bit sick. All of Shiralee's friends have planned our time out here. Tonight Chin is cooking thai food at his place, apparently he is an amazing cook. It feels wierd because we can't bring a bottle of wine to his house to say thanks for cooking as it is illegal to buy alcohol here.
To Africa: Well, for me it was the perfect way to end a fantastic two years in London. It has made me feel ready to come home and appreciate what I have so much more. It certainly wasn't easy all of the time, but it was well worth the effort. There were plenty of laughs and unique experiences, and the opportunity to meet people from all over the world.
The highs: skydiving and sandboarding in Swokapmaud, elephant safari in Vic Falls, game drives in Etosha, Chobe, and Naraku National Parks, camping (the fire, the cards, the beers), the people and definately the crew, New Years eve.
The lows: being sick while trying to make connections with new people, being stuck under that horrible raft, being stung by a wasp (I thought I was very calm, even though my mates said I carried on and on... that doesn't sound like me).
The laughs: oh goodness, so many silly jokes, that would not even be funny if I tried to write them down. Rudy making me laugh, Rodgeiro making me laugh, Carl talking crap, aggressive games of cards and uno.... the list goes on and on.
I am hopefully going to put some of my photos on here soon, so stay tuned. I hope everyone is well and enjoying 2007. Thanks for reading and I will hopefully see some of you soon.... Love Donna X
Location: United Arab Emirates
I am back home, well Dubai anyway, and I made it through Africa! Wow wow wow. I meet these boys on the plane, they were like we just did a safari, and I was like, me to. I told them I did 45 days, they pretty much thought I was crazy. They were embarassed to tell me they were on safari for 3 days. Good laugh.
So funny today. I was in bed sleeping, not expecting Shiralee to be home until tomorrow and someone knocks on the door, its Shiralee, she got back early. Then I come down to the pool to do email and who is waiting for me, but Imad and Chin. They remembered that I was back today and had made me lunch. Couldn't believe it! I love it here so much, it so feels like home with such wonderful people around me.
I was going to write a bit of a summary about Africa, you know, the highs and the lows, but seeing as though Shiralee is back, she has already got grand plans for the two of us for the next 3 days, so I will keep it short and will write a bit more when I am back in AUS. I am happy and healthy and looking forward to seeing everyone in AUS. Will reply to individual emails when I am back in AUS. Take care, Donna XX
Well the trip has ended. After 6 weeks on the same truck, it sure is a strange feeling to be on our own again. I had a really enjoyable last few nights on the tour. Said goodbye to the boy I met this morning, will see what happens from here.
At the moment we are doing a 3 day free tour. There are only 7 of us in a mini-bus. We get to eat at restuarants and have the bill paid for by the tour company. Tomorrow we have a full day of game driving, which I am really looking forward to. The last game drive was a little disappointing so everyone is hoping to see lots of animals. We all know each other, which is good when you only have 3 days together.
Only 2 nights left in Africa and then I back to Dubai. I think my body is ready to get back to western life. We are all pretty sick: a few people got malaria and most of us have funny tummys. Hope everyone is well and enjoying the new year. Donna X
Probably the last diary entry as only a few days to go on the trip. Since I last wrote, things have been really looking up.... no more fungus, no more sunburn, my toe nail finally fell off (Dimitri, does that mean I am coming back to Africa???) and I met a new boy.... who is sitting next to me.... so won't write anymore!!
We had new years on the beach in Dar es Salam. It was a really good, simple, fun night. Mind you, I didn't sleep at all.... wake up time was 4.30am, and so we decided just to stay up drinking all night. I was still in my 'party clothes' at 9pm the next day!! Hope everyone enjoyed their new years as well. On new years day, we had to travel for over 13 hours on the truck, not so much fun when you are extremely hungover.
The last three days have been spent in the Serengetti National Park. We didn't see as many animals as we expected as they have had alot of rain, which means that the grass is too long, the roads have been washed away and the animals are all hiding! I didn't feel too upset, as I had already seen animals before. The second night at camp was really awesome... there was a buffalo in our campsite, right next to our tents. There were only a few of us still up and so we had to get into our tents straight away. Once in my tent, the buffalo came right up next to my window. I decided there was no point panicking and so I just watched him for 10 mins.
Today is day 41 of 45 and so we are really on the tail end. This tour ends tomorrow and then there is a 3 day free Masi Mara tour at the end. So, this will probably be my last chance to write until I get back to Dubai, so thanks for all your messages. Hope everyone is healthy and happy. Donna X
Only have a few minutes, so will just wish everyone a happy new year. I am spending it on the beach in Dar es Salam. Have just finished a very relaxing 3 days on Zanizibar.
There is only 10 days of the tour left. We have a few big game parks to go, and some long days in the truck. I am looking forward to the rest of my time, but also to Dubai, Sydney and home.
Well, thanks for reading, and will write again soon, Donna X
Hope there were lots of happy people on Christmas. I have had an interesting time since I last wrote. The bigs news....
My skin disease turned out to be a fungal infection, over half the people on the tour had/have it, but mine was in a place where I could not see it so it was stressing me out. In my wisdom, I decided to lie on the beach to 'dry it out'. Unfort I managed to get really sunburnt (despite having sunscreen on) and then couldn't walk (like that time I got burnt in QLD with Redge and Shez). So needless to say, I really wasnt a very happy camper the day before Christmas, as I couldn't walk and coudn't sit in the truck! But Christmas came and went, with a lot of rain, and now both my fungus and sunburn are doing much better. I'm more 'myself' again and enjoying being on tour. For a few days, it felt really tough, esp given that we had just got a new group of people. And then just to really make you laugh... I also got stung by a wasp!!! The tour leader, driver and cook have been so sweet to me, making sure I'm happy, they think I have had enough bad luck! So all is good again.
It was a bit hard to be away from home on Christmas, esp given that I couldn't email or text... absolutely no contact with home. I thought about everyone alot, esp my family (love you lots). Now we have caught the ferry to Zanzibar and are about to go and watch the sun set.
A few days ago, a group of us went on a village tour, it was amazing to see their school, hospital and church. We are going on another similar tour tomorrow. I will prob go snorkeling as well.
I hope everyone is gearing up for a great new years. We are staying on a beach for new years and have to be up at 4am the next day... I don't think we will bother putting up our tent!! It has been raining alot on the second half of the trip, everything and everyone is always damp.
Will write again when I can, thanks for the messages. Miss you Mum and Amanda. Love Donna X
I'm back... sorry, it has been a very long time between internet. I am safe and happy... but a little sick, a little wet, almost died... arhhh the joys of Africa.
Since I last wrote we went to Chobe National Park and it was absolutely incredible. I was separated from my group and put on another truck for a game drive. My truck saw a kill from a lion, while the other truck didn't. So we went back into the game park to find the kill, only problem was that I was the only person who knew where it was!! I felt like I was trying to piece together some police investigation and retrace my steps (ha ha). I found the kill and everyone was so excited. On this day, we saw the most amazing types of animals and were utterly exhausted by the end.
Then at Vic Falls, we finished the first part of our tour and lost most of our new friends (very sad). We went white water rafting and there is no funny way to say this but it was downright horrible. I got stuck under the raft twice and got battered all the way down a rapid. It really shock me up. Three of us got stuck under the raft and we all agreed that it was the scariest thing in our lives, while the rest of the boat were all saying it was the best thing!! I am happy to be safe and alive. But there will be no more rafting for me, two bad experiences in one day is enough!
We got a new bunch of friends and spent 2 days on a houseboat, but this has caused nothing but trouble as 7 of us have bites / blisters / something wierd on our skin. I have just been to a doctor to get antibotics and cream. Not fun, but at least I am not the only one. I have it all over the backs of my legs and so its hard to sit down for too long (not good on the bus).
So all in all, as you can tell, things have gotten a little tougher on the trip. But its nothing that I can't cope with and I am looking forward to the next few days in Malawi.
So that brings me to my happy christmas wish for everyone. I really hope you have a lovely day and know that I will thinking of everyone. Hopefully it won't be so long between the internet next time. Till next time, my love Donna XX
Arrhh, slow internet drives you crazy!!
OK, WOW, where to start. Since I wrote, we went to Etosha National Park and it was amazing!! We went on a game drive and saw the most amazing things: a herd of baby and mother elephants, a lion and some zebra, giraffe up close, springbox, wildebeast, antelope. It was the most incredible experience... you just want more and more. At nights, we sat by the floodlit waterholes (behind a very dodgy looking fence) and watched the animals come to drink. I was super super patient and waited half the night with 4 other dedicated mates. We were rewarded with a giraffe and zebra that took 2 hours to get from one side of the waterhole to the other! We also saw a rhino, which I have been told is quite rare. Then the next night, we saw a massive elephant come right up to the fence. I was sure we were going to die!
The past 3 days and nights have been spent in the delta. We took boats out to an island and then camped with no water, showers, toilets. We went on game walks (that's right, just us and the animals, no truck). We walked for 5 hours... far out... but again were rewarded with the most amazing sight of 'plenty' (as the tour guide said) of buffalo. He said there were 600 of them, watching us for 10 mins, before stampeeding off. Seriously, it was incredible. The guide actually tracked these buffalo by examing the poo - he kept saying 'this is fresh'. I have never looked at so much poo!
Its funny because I am so NOT the most scared on the tour. Even the boys get themselves worked up. They convinced themselves that there was a crocodile in the water yesterday! Our tour leader told us the 'crocodile' was in fact, a dead water lily!
I am still keeping well. My toenail is still black. My clothes are still dirty. I am still smiling and loving the experience. We are now going for a scenic flight over the delta to hopefully spot more animals and get an appreciation of where we have been camping. I believe the next update from me will be in a week from Victoria Falls. Hope everyone is well. Donna X
Some big things are now ticked off the list. Firstly, scary animals... I did it!!! We stayed at Cheetah Park last night. There were wild cheetahs rooming around behind a fence. We went out in the back of open trucks to watch the cheetahs being feed. It was truely amazing. And then we patted a tame cheetah. I absolutely loved it.
To my surprise, I was flicking through the guest book and found Shiralee's name from 2 years ago. Couldn't believe it! Now my name is in the book as well.
Today we do our first proper game drive in Etosha National Park. We drive during the day and look for animals, and then at night we sit at the floodlight waterhole and watch them drink.
Have been starting to miss showers (longest is 48 hours without a shower), have cold showers, pee on the side of the road, and generally feel like I am in Africa. Till next time.... XX
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Response: Hi Lucy,
Thanks for getting in touch. Will and I managed to be out of the email loop... try as I may, couldn't get your or Ollie's email address. Glad you found me! All well with me; rest of trip was good, actually missed you guys and our little UK / token Aussie group! We all got very sick... but I met this awesome guy and we are still dating. Going to visit him in South Africa in Sept and then will probably move over there next year. Yes, got facebook, looks like you found me. The depression will pass, just onto new projects.
Take care, say hi to Ollie, stay in touch.
Love Donna X
Response: Hey Michael,
Didn't know people were still looking at my site... I really should update it a bit more often! Glad you enjoyed the photos. I'll be back in Melbs early May, I'll be in touch and hopefully we can chat up soon. How is Ella? Hope all is well with you. Love Donna X
Response: Hi Bron,
Wow, this is a surprise. How are things with you? Enjoying being back in Sydney? I've seen Mel a couple of times, once in Sydney and for a week in Melbs. Take care, Donna X
Response: Hi there Donna No. 2,
Great to hear from you. Being illegal isn't much fun, hope you get your visa soon! Thanks for the message, love Donna No.1
Response: Hey Beck,
Let's catch up for a drink again soon... I need to hear about how your Valentine's Day went and any other Geelong gossip. Been getting enough work, but MISS having my own class. See you soon, Donna X
Response: Hi Mel,
The photos took forever to put on, so I am glad you have enjoyed them! I started my first album yesterday, starting with 'The Pub' photos. I believe Ireland was the first holiday, so that will be next! I need to get some tips from you. Take care, Love Donna X
Response: Hi Mr Lawire,
Glad you enjoyed it. Hope to see you at 'Family Fun Night' this Tuesday at netball (crazy sister that I have). Love from Donna X
Response: Hi Julie,
I am missing London! It can be a bit lonely doing supply work, I am hanging to get my own class. Great, see you when you get back, Love Donna X
Response: Hi Rik,
You will definately have to do the first half of the trip, it was awesome. And I recommend Jo, Sirus and Monthongu! Cheers, Donna X
Response: Hi there, now which Lisa is this... Lisa from Africa I am guessing?? Glad you enjoyed the photos. Trust you got the photos I emailed you as well. Enjoy Cornwell, Donna X
Response: Hi Tara,
Good to hear from you. Enjoy supply teaching - I hope you get enough work. Neil... what do you want to know, how about I give you all the gossip after my trip to South Africa? Will def see you in Melbourne when you are down. Take care, Donna X
Response: Hi Melanie,
I LOVED looking at your photo albums. I LOVED spending time with you in Sydney, honestly, it was the best end to the best 2.5 years! See you in a few hours at the airport. Its raining here, first time in months. Donna X
Response: Hi girl,
Lovely to hear from you. Happy to be returning home to AUS after such an awesome experience. Hope you are settling in well and things are good with you lucky man. Take care, Love Donna X
Response: Hi Mel,
Really looking forward to seeing you. I have so much stuff, I hope it all gets to Sydney!! My flight is with Emirates, obviously from Dubai. It arrives at 8.45am on Sunday 14th Jan. Flight number is: EK418. Thanks so much for coming to collect me. I can't wait to see you and Australia. Love Donna XX
Response: Ohhh, thanks....
Im in Dubai now, by the pool, Africa seems so far away!! Was not so happy to be leaving yesterday, I had the best time there. Will check my email now. Donna X X X
Response: Hi darl,
Can't believe you are back already. I must go back and read your website again, would love to compare our trips now that I understand these places. All good with me. Will def call Willesden when in AUS (you need to be home at exactly 9.30pm Monday night!!!) Love you, Donna X
Response: Hi Nikki,
Yes, second half a little tougher than the first, but all is good now and really enjoying my time. Don't be jealous, you will just have to come to Africa as well! Thanks for the message. How are things with you?? Donna X
Response: Thanks Roger, will do so when I am back in AUS.
Response: Hi Sandra,
Yes, we finally got the big five the other day, saw a leopard in a tree in Senegetti. Only a few days to go now, can't believe it. Will see you in Geelong in the new year. Donna X
Response: Hi Valmai and Dennis
Thanks for staying in touch. Only have 10 days to go, but still having a wonderful time. Love Donna X
Response: Hey Roger,
Was wondering when I would hear from you!! Yes yes, saw a kill, funny story about the rest of the group not seeing it. Was very wierd to mix with the new group, missed everyone for the first week! Leopard, no way, Roderigo would be jealous! Will pass on the wishes to Rudy, Chang, Will and the crew. Stay in touch. Love Donna X
Response: Hi Mum,
So good to get three messages from you, I feel so loved! Great to read about your Christmas. I will def be at Chrissy next year! Love you, Donna X
Response: Hi Mum,
Thanks for the Christmas wishes, I did feel them. I am much better now, all my fungus and sunburn has cleared up. I am looking forward to seeing Shiralee. See you soon, Love Donna X
Been thinking of you all, can't believe I am not coming back! How is everyone, did Amanda get to AUS safely? Africa is fantastic. Thanks for the message. Miss you. Donna X
Response: Hi Mel,
All better now. Thanks for thinking of me on Christmas, hope you had a good one too. It rained and rained on Christmas, but it was good to be somewhere so different. See you soon, love Donna X