Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Some Pictures of friends

These are some of the family boys! They are all extremely funny guys. This is who I have been spending most my time with. From left to right: Shane (Linden), Dale, Glen, Matt, Boner (Callum).
These boys love Australian football and have been teaching me all about the game. We went to Dale's championship game on Sunday, if you remember me writing about the fight!
Boner and I jam out on the guitar and sing songs just about every night. He loves Nirvana and Kirk Cobain. As you can tell, he has grown his hair just like him.
The other picture is of Dave, Nolan and myself. Again, this is at dinner monday night. It has been tradition for the last 16 years for the whole family to eat at Dave's house every Monday night. Dave is the father of Graham (the owner of both the hotel we are staying at, and the ball club), Fizz (the father of Shane and Boner), and Haas (the father of Glen and Dale). Dave is the top of the family tree and everyone else comes down from there. Nolan is my new roommate from Orange County, Ca. Dave is Awesome, a very interesting man, who gives me so much knowledge about the game of baseball in Australia. In fact, Dave invented the game of Tee-Ball which is now played all over the United States!! Thumbs up Dave!!
The Last Picture is of two hotties that Nolan I and met at breakfast. These are two German girls named Christine and Zonka. They did not speak the best English, but we managed to communicate for about a half hour. They had just graduated from college, and were traveling around Australia. They will be headed to Sydney today, for an unknown amount of time.
I am meeting so many different types of people. Never in my life have I been in the environment to meet people from all over the world that are not so Americanized. Right after breakfast we began talking to an older couple, Dave and Wendy who were from the UK. We talked to them about so many different things, everything from where they had been, to motorcycles in London.
Everyone has been very easy to talk to!
Well everyone, Im off to go run my ten sprints at the track!! I can't slack off just cause Im in a different country. We have practice tonight, then a huge dinner with the entire baseball organization. Should be a great time, should be meeting tons more people!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Day 4 complete

Another great day in Canberra! My new Roomie Nolan arrived today around noon. We played the "guess which one he is" game when we were waiting for him to arrive at baggage claim. It wasn't hard to spot him however; he was the only one wearing a major league baseball hat, along with baseball sunglasses, headphones, and a new york jets t-shirt! He stuck out like a sore thumb! Pretty funny!
He is pretty chill, we walked around the shops, then had a huge dinner with the whole family. Every monday is a family gathering with anywhere from 10-25 people. I feel at home there, coming from such a large family. Its a loud atmosphere with many things going on at once.
Just another day in the life!
What's up Anthea? Goodnight friends!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A great day!

It's just about midnight on Sunday evening. Today was a wonderful and eventful day, but ridiculously cold and windy!! I was told that it would be warm here, so far I'm not seeing it. Baseball practice was great but windy, cold at about 5 degrees (sorry don't have the converter in my head, just heard someone say that), with very annoying rain! Hey, kind of like Oregon, strangely enough, this brought a smile to my face.
Once I ran and got the blood flowing, we took some ground balls and hit batting practice. Three of us threw bullpens and I felt rather happy with how I did. This field is not in good shape. There is no infield dirt, just grass, which makes for an extremely unpredictable surface. This is something I'm not used to, but it's out of my control. Back in Little league we played on pretty bad fields, and it never seemed to bother me then.
It was awesome getting out there and playing some ball, even with the rough environment, I realized that I have so much to be thankful for.
I was picked up early from practice by Dave, in order to get to Dale's football match. This was rugby league. I was amazed how hard these dudes hit and tackled each other without any pads. Within about 45 min, three people were carried off the field with injuries. It's a tough sport. The athletes don't have as much finesse as American footballers, but they lower their shoulder and hit just as hard!
The craziest thing that I saw was at the moment the horn ended the game. A huge fight broke out between the two teams! This was real; people were landing hay-makers right into the sides of each others faces! Direct hits again and again. People bloody all over the place. The fight went on for quite a while, lasting almost two full minutes. It was nothing like a fight in american sports, where it consists of mostly pushing and shoving, with the OCCASIONAL punch followed by direct penalties or suspensions. In fact no one even attempted to break it up. Every fan was still and quiet, intently watching as their sons and brothers got beat down. There were no mothers screaming for the safety of her "baby", and definitely no repercussions handed to the players. Finally the brawl ended. Instantly the flying fists turned into hand shakes. They began congratulating one another for a hard fought, testosterone filled match. I couldn't believe it. If this were to happen in the states (never would), parents would have been involved right away with the refs trying to break it up. The athletes who did manage to get a punch in would be kicked out of the league, and probably slapped with law suits by parents who never a sport in their life. It was amazing, just like that, all good mates again! Dale's team got the victory, and began to celebrate with each other, as the losing team walked away to their sideline with their heads down, bloodied and beaten. No one even said a word about the brawl. Almost as if it didn't happen, or it did and everyone just understood that in such a high intensity environment, sometimes things get out of hand. Not to mention, that every one of the dads in the stands played rugby, and got into more brawls than they can count on two hands; most of the moms probably fell in love with those dads watching these brawls. Everyone just understood, and there was no reason to talk about it. That didn't stop me from letting them all know that that would not fly in America. Wow, the picture of those punches followed by the handshakes will never be forgotten by me, such a different culture, let the boys be boys!!
On another note, I came home and had a great dinner at the Durham. Met a real cool guy named Jeff, and an awesome server named Anthia. We talked together for about two hours while I ate and had Fat Yak, my new favorite beer. By the way, nobody drinks Fosters here. In fact they call it "piss" beer pretty unanimously. you can't even find it at the bar. Crazy American marketing, trying to trick us into buying something that we always knew was disgusting! Anyhow, I think I'm getting along pretty well here.
My roommate Nolan gets in tomorrow, I feel like he's missed out on a lot. Most all football is over for the year, and Nolan may never get the grasp of auzzi sports like I have over the last couple days.
Stay with me guys, there will be plenty more to come!!

Practice

Today is the first day of practice, and I am pretty excited!! Its gonna feel great to get outside and run around a bit! Its about 10 am on sunday, even though this posting date will most likely say Saturday!
Last night was a crazy night! I live about 70 meters from the a small bar/pub that has a live band every weekend night. Last night they performed great. They played mostly american sing-alongs, and kept the dance floor crackin!! The lady folk here are a new breed to me! I dont really understand them. This one in particular just wouldn't shut up about the whole american thing. It was driving me crazy, so I told her to drop it for a bit. She took that as me being this big cocky American, and literally turned a group of about 10 girls into total Biotches toward me! lol. It was fine though, because I was there with my good mates Fiz, Haas, (Bill the hotel owners brothers) Boner and Shano (Fiz's sons) ! we had a great time together and came home around 2 am.
Yesterday was just a great day all together. We went to the "footy" club around noon, and watched the grand championship of AFL. It was a good game, and it was fun learning the rules of this unfamiliar game! The footy club is a place with tons of tv's that everyone comes to watch the game. There is plenty of gambling going on, slots, horse races, and football. I believe there is a yearly fee to be a member. People from all ages were there supporting their team and cheering really loud! I met so many people who were just great. These friends that I've made would never allow me, or any friend for that matter feel uncomfortable in any way. They fed me till i couldn't eat anything else; they made sure that I wasn't thirsty as well!
So the footy club is the main sponsor for the baseball club that I am playing for. This is where I will most likely get a job! They pay very well, but Im not really sure about the gambling scene that I will be around. Lucky for me, I dont understand it well, and have no interest at all in it.
There are lots of cultural differences with the clothes that they where, the hair styles, the language, etc, but so many things seem to be universal as well. Friendship is a big deal to these people, they treat me great (well other than crazy girl last night) even though they are all getting a laugh from the others trying to jokingly lead me astray in some small way!
So off to practice, then watching the boys' cousin play his final youth football (rugby) match of the season.
I am sure that today will lead to something exciting and new! Can't wait to find out what that is.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Today will be fun

So today there is a big Football game! It is the Aussi football League championship. Everyone is getting off work early to watch the match at the footy club. I don't know the rules to this type of football, but there are like three different games all called football over here. It is a bit confusing. Last night was the rugby league Semi final game, (also called football). I am beginning to understand that a bit. We watched that game at a pub and drank middies! These are small medium sized glasses of beer that hold 10oz. We cooked our own steaks on the grill inside the pub, stuffed ourselves, and drank lots of beer.
I am learning a ton about the culture here. Everyone is very nice and approachable. They have already given me the nickname of Ekka! This is an old school australian alias name for Eric, sort of like Bill for William. They all treat me like family over here. I think im going to really enjoy myself over the next 6 months.
Im living in a bed and breakfast for the time being until the hotel next door is remodeled. Graham is the president of the baseball league here, and also the owner of both the hotel and bed and breakfast. the entire staff works in both locations and all gather together for lunch. There is about 10 staff members at any given time, both boys and girls. Its almost like a family gathering where everyone is laughing and making fun. I participate the best I can, so far im a little over my head with the speedy language and wit of the australian jargon. by the time i say "huh?" or "what?" they are all already laughing at me. Its all in good fun though.
Tomorrow is Baseball practice. I am pretty excited to get out there and play. Its pretty cold right now, but being a ball player native to Portland, OR, I've learned to dress for success.
I woke up around 6:30 this morning, ate continental breakfast, then walked the town. I am literally one block from the shops. I have a fav coffee shop already.
So far its been a real blast!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Still waiting!!

So I am already writing another blog. I have had a lot of time on my hands because of this crazy travel schedule. Right now I am sitting at gate 35 at the Sydney domestic airport. I will be boarding to Canberra in about a half hour.
Whole I was still at lax I met Dale, or how he pronounced it,”Del” and he quickly became one of my good “Mates”. He sat next to me when we both had hours to kill. We began conversation, and he told me how he had been traveling all over the world. Dale is origionally from Melbourne, but has spent the last four years of his life traveling the world. He had just gotten done spending the summer in Whistler CA, but spent much time in Europe and London. He was inspiring me more and more every minute that we talked. We decided to grab an extremely overpriced beer at the bar and talk some more. He began to tell me about Spain, and how he ran with the bulls two years in a row. He described in detail the sound of the horn giving the thousands of people a head start to outrun the bulls. It was a dead sprint to the end, losing your friends in a true “every man for himself” environment. When you get time to rest, and see you buddies you just grab and hug one another laughing. The rush sounds amazing.
He went on to tell me about all the places that he had been, and where he wants to go next, and that Norway has the most naturally beautiful women in the world. He had visited Norway one year as he was “chasing the Winter”, snowboarding the world. Today, He is coming back to aussi, but not going home. He is headed for Brisbane, or “Brizzy” to meet up with friends he met in London and Canada. He plans to save some money, while surfing the coast, and meeting new people. While there he plans to get his sky diving license. It sounds like so much fun! I would love to sky dive, but not just once, any time that I wanted.
So anyhow, he was a cool guy, and I hope that I meet many other Australians just like him. The flight was so long. 15 hours to be exact. When I got to customs, they found dirt on the bottom of my baseball cleats. Apparently that was not ok. I was forced to wash them and leave the dirt before entering the country. I found that a little weird, but did it with out complaints.
I am already beginning to see a difference between myself and others around me. The Australians have crazy hair with spikes going everywhere, or length past their ears. Most of them are wearing just t shirts and board shorts with sandals. I desperately want to shower and shave. This travel is grueling, and I want it to be over.

Here I go!!

So im off! Finally, it seems like there were so many things that I had to take care of before leaving. I think I got most of it done. I got my passport, work and Holiday Visa, international drivers license, travel insurance, and not to mention all the bills and outstanding debt that I finally found important enough to pay. When leaving the country for 6 months, you get this feeling of anxiety that something is going to go wrong, and when it does, you will be so out of place to deal with it. Talking with all my credit card and bill companies has been stressing, but I think its all taken care of. Once there, I will still need to transfer some balances and Western Union funds into various American accounts in order to pay bills that are on auto pay. It is a little scary, but I think I can handle it.
So im at pdx right now. Arrived here hours ago when my mother dropped me off before work around 7 am. My flight leaves at 11:15 and arrive in LA at 2:30. There I got an 8 hour layover, and depart for Sydney at midnight tonight. That’s fine because I need to get my bags checked in, and make a few more calls; I have one more bill to pay, then im shutting down my phone before I take off. I have heard the flight is about 16 hours, I could give you an exact quote from my itinerary but I don’t have it in front of me.
Once in Sydney, I have a 3 hour layover, then fly to Canberra, where I will be picked up and taken to my living space. So in all it will be a little less than 30 hours of travel.
I am ok flying and have done so many times, however only over land throughout the US, never over night across the Pacific Ocean. This creeps me out a bit. Mason was giving me crap because in the tv series “Lost” they crash somewhere over the Pacific on a flight scheduled from LAX to Sydney……Yikes! All I know is that if we do go down, and I somehow survive the crash, im grabbing TWO seat cushions, headed to the back of the plane and grabbing as many Dasani bottled waters as I can shove in my pockets.

Anyhow, about Australia, I don’t know what to expect. I do know that im going to make the best of whatever situation God has planned for me. I am going to have a blast playing the game I love as I did when I was a kid. The level of play isn’t quite as good as what im used to, so it will give me the opportunity to flush some recent struggles, and get back to having fun!! My goal is to have a great season, then come back to the US and carry a new confidence level and swagger that I may have lost in recent seasons. hopefully this will be the ticket to the next level.
Throughout the next 6 months, I will be updating and writing often. Please continue to follow me in my adventure abroad, and read along as I get acclimated to a totally new environment!