Tête en bas

Down under wandering. Archipelagoes to islands; beaches to deserts; mountains to cities.

Archive for the ‘Everyday life’ Category

Back to life

  • English: Back to life
  • Français: Back to life

I’ve been quiet for a little while. I think it’s important to alternate quiet period and more busy period. That’s what I did over the last two weeks in Alice Springs. Well, when I arrived here, I was quite motivated to find a job, and start my quest immediately. I was really interested to work as a guide, and I started doing all the different things that need to be done… I just ended up catching the flu, a pretty big one, that left me half alive in a backpackers for a few days. During that time, I had feedback for the guide job opportunity. ” Someone who speaks french is exactly what we need at the moment. Bilingual is even better. You have a nice profile. That’s perfect. But to bad, you’re on a Working Holiday Visa, you can stay only 4 months, so we’re not going to hire you”. And at the same time, I was listening to this french girl, with such an accent that even a caricaturist won’t try to copy it, explaining with such a bad vocabulary that she just got a job in a cafe where I applied too. Seems that my boobs where not as good as hers…

I’ve decide to forget about finding a job in Alice. Instead, I was going to start a secret plan. A plan I’ve been working on the last few days. It supposed to happened this sunday. I’ll be able to tell you more by then. So at the moment, I’m just relaxing and enjoying, leaving in a caravan, with no door, no heater, no mattress, but internet. Little bit cold by night, but people here are really friendly. And I can stay a couple of days, as long as I help a little bit from time to time.

My friend Hripsime, that I met in Melbourne, just arrived in Alice Springs. I was really happy to see her back at the airport. Now have a new travelmate. Adventures starting again soon !

Daily life in Coober Pedy

  • English: Daily life in Coober Pedy
  • Français: Daily life in Coober Pedy

I asked Cassie to drop me at Erldunda, as it saved me 200km. My plan was to hitch hike to Coober Pedy. “Only” 500km to do. It was an easy ride. I though… I staid at the gaz station for four hours. Talking to everyone. Seems that everybody was going north, or west. None was going south. Well… a few were going south, but had no room. Except this guy who “doesn’t pick up hitch hiker, for safety reason”. Yes, I looked pretty scary with my flippers in my back pack… The sunset. There were less and less car… I was thinking to build my tent, somewhere in the wilderness. But there is a campground at Erldunda. And they only charge $11. Cheap enough for me to pay. It took me an other 3 hours the next morning. I was starting to loose faith. Thinking that there might be place, in Oz, where hitch hiking was to complicate. But I was finally saved by two italian girls. They asked me for $20 for the gaz, that I was more than happy to pay. And I finally arrive at Josephine and Terry orphanage, in Coober Pedy.

It was six days ago. Already! Enough time to get my little habits. Life is not really hard here. I wake up between 9 and 10 AM, and take my time to check the last news on internet. Also trying to find what my next step will be… after that, it’s time to clean the roo yard. Just on time for the first public feed at 12. If there’s a group, or a lot of people, all the five older kangaroos have there milk bottle. If there’s not enough people, they just get some little snack.

The afternoon is about getting an area of the house ready to become an other kangaroos yard, so they can have more room. So it’s about putting up some fence and digging a few holes. When Terry or Jo need an extra hand, I often help feeding the younger one, who are on a four hours feeding schedule. Yes, day and night. Terry does the day shift, Jo the night one.

Evening is usually quite. Chat, cuddling with the young joeys, watching tv. I usually find some time to play flute or didgeridoo. And to do some more computer too. And it’s finally time for me to go back to my room. Yes, I’m sleeping in a caravan, in a backyard, in the middle of the desert. Yes, it’s cold during the night. But I love my caravan! Looks amazing!

And sometime, there is those special days. Where a South Korean TV crew come to film the orphanage. I ended up being interviewed, and I’m now wondering if I’ll be famous in South Korean in the next few weeks… and that’s also during this interview that my phone rang. Next week, I’ll have a job interview. On Skype. For a job I applied in Melbourne, a few weeks ago. Why not!

And there’s also this phone call, at the end of the afternoon, that sounds like an alert. Yes, a rescue team is needed. A few miner find a young joey, still alive. A new family member is coming. I jump in the car with Terry. He’s driving fast. Not because it’s a real emergency, I think, but because he use to be a Rally Car driver. We pick up the young lady. Her name is Prue. She’s only 3 months and a half, and she’ll be coming with us. What a strange feeling to hold her, as close to me as I can to keep her warmth. To feel her breath under the towel. To know that she had a mother, 8 hours ago, and she’s entering a complete and totally different world by now…

Wandering photographic workshop in Richmond

  • English: Wandering photographic workshop in Richmond
  • Français: Wandering photographic workshop in Richmond

Back in Montreal, when I was organizing guided tours, I discovered that walking in a city was a great way for people to get to know each other. When you are in a bar, sharing beers, or in a restaurant, sharing food, or even in a show, listening to music, you’ll stay almost always at the same place. with the same people on your side. You might be in an event with 15 persons, but you’ll probably end up talking to only 4 or 5 of them. Because the other are just to far, and because it’s hard to talk to someone who is behind someone else. But when walking in a city, the shape of the group is always morphing. A red light, and everybody is back together. You can walk at your own speed, and have a one to one conversation for a little while. And then, start talking with someone else.

I love watching people interacting with each other. I love to see how a group react. How everything goes. Others passion me, and I was really exited to organize my first event in Melbourne. The idea was to walk randomly in a neighborhood, in order to discover it, and to take picture. One more time, the choice was quite obvious. I like Richmond. 16 peoples subscribe to the event. 10 come. That’s the way it works with couchsurfing.

And everything was just nice. I had a couple of really nice chat, and definitely meet interesting people. I was also happy to answer to a couple of questions. There will be a second one next week. This time, it will be about light painting and fire photography. Lots of fun coming on !

Chicken drumsticks in a white wine and nuts sauce

  • English: Chicken drumsticks in a white wine and nuts sauce
  • Français: Chicken drumsticks in a white wine and nuts sauce

I like it a lot when I’m staying at a place where the people are happy to let me cook. It’s a nice opportunity to experiment, and try new random recipe, improvised from what I can find in the fridge.

I’m really happy with the result of this one. Chicken drumsticks in a white wine and nuts (peanut, cashew, almond) sauce. Served with tomatoes “à la provençale” and Quinoa. And I just discovered that the hazel nut taste you have in Quinoa just fits very well with the nuts sauce. I’ll definitely have to look at that from closer!

Fry some garlic with some ginger, in olive oil and butter. Add grounded almonds and onions. Then, add some maple sirup, to help the onions to caramelize, and some peanut butter. As I didn’t have enough peanut butter, I just add some cashew butter to. Complete with some white wine, add the chicken, salt, paprika and cumin seed. Cover with a lead. Wait. Eat.

Back to the roots: le Gratin Dauphinois

  • English: Back to the roots: le Gratin Dauphinois
  • Français: Back to the roots: le Gratin Dauphinois

One of the things I love in Australia, is that most ingredients are of great quality. The first time I taste the double fresh cream from Gippsland, I was just amazed by such a soft taste and texture. So when I saw that Megan had bought some Gippsland cream, I was really exited. And when she asked me if I could cook diner, I already knew what I was going to cook. Temperature is dropping here. Winter is coming. There’s nothing better than a good old Gratin Dauphinois (sliced potatoes slowly cooked in cream) to help feel better when it has been raining all day. Yes, sometime it’s nice to be able to share an old traditional receipt… well… maybe not really traditional anymore, as I love cooking sausages on top (so the fat melting from the sausages just add some extra flavor to the potates), and adding some cheese to. Well… just because I love cheese?

Where are my hours going?

  • English: Where are my hours going?
  • Français: Where are my hours going?

For the first 30 years of my life, I’ve been staying in the north hemisphere. Traveling a lot, but always on the same side of the world. And then, I’ve decided to try being upside down. Everybody knows that downunder, the water turns anti clockwise when you’re emptying your sink. So many people says that, that I haven’t even watch the water leaving my sink yet… I take that for true, I suppose. Or maybe I’m not passionate by sink holes.

I’ve kept saying that the hardest things when traveling/moving to a foreign country are not the big cultural clash. No, the hardest things are all those little details you’re so much use to. I was quite surprisee in Sydney, when I saw that apartment owners were advertising places with windows facing north, which was, for me, a nonsense. Until I realize that yes, in the south hemisphere, the sun still goes from west to east, but heading north instead of south. I knew that when a few weeks later I made my first time lapse of a sunset. I was watching it, feeling that something was wrong. One more time, it took me a while before I understand what was going on. I mean… when you watch a sunset, you’re expecting the sun to move slowly to its right. I checked the video again. The sun was obviously moving to the left. There was no mirror, no reflexion. I didn’t flip my video. That’s the way the sun goes here. Well… it makes sense. If you want to go from west to east via north, you have to go left. I suppose my brain might understand that one day…

Same for the seasons. When it’s winter in the north, it’s summer in the south. I didn’t have a winter this year. Interesting experience. But then, last night, it was the night when we change time by one hour. I knew the date since a few weeks now. I noticed that there was not 10 hours time difference between France and Australia anymore, but only 9 remaining. I lived the same experience when I was in Montreal. For a few weeks, there was one more/less hour difference. Knowing that we were changing time last night, I was expecting that everything was going back to normal. I wake up at 9:30 this morning. So it was 10:30. But when I opened my computer, it told me it was 8:30. My computer having a bug? Making a mistake? I checked quickly online. No, my computer was right. The hour change didn’t go the way I was expecting it. Something was wrong. I checked the time in France. Only 8 hours difference remaining. The south hemisphere didn’t move. Neither did the north one. But now, they suddenly seems to be two hours closer.

Where have those two hours gone? Did they just disappear? That sounds really strange, I know. And then, I though about this  imaginary line, somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. A line where you don’t lose one hour, but a whole day. If you fly from Melbourne to Vancouver, you’re going to live your day twice. If you fly the opposite way, you lose a day.

2012 is supposed to be a 366 days. Could be nice to fly to Vancouver in a few weeks, to try to understand where that extra day come from. And then having a 367 days in 2012!

The curry day

In Montreal, when you have friends who help you when you’re moving, you usually thank them by offering pizza and beer… A few days ago, I offered my help to Jesse and Riz, when I learnt that they were moving. I like helping people moving; don’t really know why. But even if I hadn’t liked it, I would have helped them any way. After all, Jesse hosted us for 5 days in december, kept some of our bags for one month and a half, and invited us to his wedding. So giving him a few hours of my time was the least I could do. It was really nice to see them again, after the wedding. And it was even nicer when Riz told me that she had cooked a fish curry, and that I was definitely more than welcome to have some. I mean. I like beer and pizza. But… how to say that… when you have a friend from Bengladesh, who is definitely a good cook, you definitely forget about the pizza !

As the fish was really bony, I decided to follow them in the bengladeshi tradition of eating with your hand (only the right one; Bengladesh is a muslim country). And it definitely makes sense. It is more easier to remove the bone from the fish with fingers that with a fork and a spoon. Or a knife. Seems that fish curry is a very traditional meal from Bengladesh. It was definitely a really good one, with this perfect balance of ingredients and tastes that is so common in indian food, upgraded by a slight spicing. Just something that I forgot: usually, you don’t have french beans in this kind of food. I realized a little bit too late that the long green vegetable was not bean, but green chili.

I would have been really happy with only one amazing curry… but Iris was in Melbourne for the week-end, and staying with Ned and Rosie. And planning to cook diner for them. I was, of course, invited. Iris loves indian food. She’s been experimenting with curry for a little while now, and her prawn curry was really good to.

Served with an interesting New Zealander white wine, we discovered in january. I haven’t find any really interesting australian wine yet. They are a little bit to strong. Not that they are bad. Just they are missing something, trying to impose themself, instead of waiting for you to discover all the subtlety of their aroma. The “counting sheep”, from  Hawkes Bay area in New Zealand, is a soft white wine with a light sweet taste that just fits perfectly with the prawns.

The pleasure of making mistakes

I’ve always said that making mistakes results, most of the time, with interesting consequences. It’s true in most part of your life, but that’s specially true in a kitchen. So much recipe came from mistake… I always end up talking about food with the people who host me. I don’t remember why we were talking about “crème brûlée” with Rosie, but I said that I would be really happy to cook some for all the housemates. I hadn’t make “crème brûlée” for a while. I was feeling that there was quite a lot of sugar… but still, I cooked them… to realize, later, that I put 4 times much more sugar. Hum… It was good, but definitely to sweat to be eaten like that.

And then, I realize it tastes exactly the same that a Sugar Pie feeling. There was the solution to my problem. Cause yes, I was quite ashamed. Crème brûlée is not such a hard recipe… so I just had to put everything back in a bowl, mix it again, and made a shortcrust pastry,

Twenty minutes in the oven…

And that was done !

And yes, according to the other in the house (two australians, one italian, one german and one dutch) it was pretty good.

So… if you want to make a very nice homemade traditional sugar pie, just miss your crème brûlée !

Le bon côté des choses

Hier soir, alors que je lisais le profil d’une couchsurfeuse (oui, j’ai lu énormément de profil ces derniers temps) italo-harmenienne quadrilingue presque quintuplolingue je suis tombé sur cette phrase « CS is an amazing chance for those who don’t believe in money but in people ». Petite phrase toute simple, toute bête, mais qui me plait énormément.

Les gens me demandent depuis combien de temps je suis à Melbourne. Je me mélange un peu les pinceaux. Il faudra que je compte à un moment pour savoir… n’ayant toujours pas de job, donc pas les moyens pour un appart, je passe régulièrement d’un canapé à un autre. Et même si ces déplacements constants ont un petit côté éprouvant, ils sont, en même temps, l’occasion de rencontrer énormément de gens avec qui le courant passe super bien.

Il y a d’abord eu la gang de hippies féministes de Northcote. La plupart des hippies ont un petit côté fatigant, dans le fait qu’ils refusent que la société les mette dans une boîte. En guise de révolte, ils adoptent tous le même comportement paix, amour, marijuana et musique psychédélique. Je trouve très amusant ce réflexe si régulier de dire « je ne veux pas être dans une boîte » et de s’enfermer alors dans une autre boîte, toute aussi clichée, des gens qui n’aiment pas être dans une boîte. Ils sont presque tous sur le même modèle, avec de bien rares variations. Il n’empêche que malgré ça, j’aime bien les hippies. J’aime ces gens qui pratiquent la simplicité volontaire, qui sont persuadés de déborder d’amour et qui cherchent à en donner à tout le monde. Je les aime, parce qu’ils sont heureux avec très peu de choses. Et que généralement, ce qui les rend heureux, c’est d’essayer (souvent maladroitement) de faire plaisir aux autres. Il y a un petit côté maladroit dans leur approche, dans leur volonté de donner de l’amour, de faire plaisir, qui me fait sourire. Mais plus que tout, ce que j’aime chez les hippies, c’est que leur mode de vie n’empiète pas sur le mien. Contrairement au gentil monsieur qui conduit son quatre quatre, pollue ma planète, et essaie de se faire de l’argent sur mon dos et sur celui des autres, en refusant ma différence, ces gentils végétariens paix et amour m’accepte comme je suis, me laisse faire ce que je veux, et ne pose pas de questions. Et ça fait du bien.

Depuis Northcote, on a continué jusqu’à Rowville. Loin, très loin, dans le sud. Trente minutes de train, quarante cinq minutes de bus, pour se retrouver chez Zoltan, Beata, et leurs deux filles. Première expérience de couchsurfing dans une famille, comme moi comme pour Iris. Pour la petite anecdote, on aura trouvé leur profil par le biais de François, le frère d’Iris. Oui, encore ! Zoltan et Beata partait en France juste quelques jours après nous avoir hébergé, leur chemin passant par Bordeaux, où il était déjà prévu que François les héberge. Comme quoi, CS réduit vite la terre à un tout petit village où tout le monde se connait (ou plutôt où tout le monde semble connaître Franek !). Zoltan et Beata sont originaires de Hongrie et, c’est très clair, je regrette énormément que l’on n’ai pu rester que trois jours chez eux. Les discussions, à tout les soirs, ont été de vrais moments de bonheur. Il est, il faut bien le dire, toujours agréable de trouver des gens qui partagent les mêmes idéaux. Je me suis pas mal reconnu en Zoltan, dans sa façon de mettre tellement de valeur dans les petites choses de la vie, plutôt que dans les grosses. L’entendre dire que l’un de ses meilleurs souvenirs remontent à la Suisse, quand il a bu l’eau qui coulait directement des glaciers m’a rappelé un certains nombre de petits bonheurs identiques. Ajouter à ça qu’il y avait toujours un (ou deux ou trois) petits verres de vins pour accompagner les conversations, ça ne fait qu’ajouter un peu plus au charme de la chose ! J’ai fait plaisir à tout le monde en faisant à manger. Iris a fait plaisir à tout le monde en faisant des profiteroles. Et Zoltan et Beata ont fait plaisir à tout le monde en nous préparant une spécialité hongroise.


De Rowville, nous sommes revenus à St Kilda, chez Tammy, Drew et Nick. Je suis arrivé chez eux fatigués. C’était au moment où j’ai fait mes deux jours de « bénévolat » pour Plan International. Les nuits sont Zoltan et Beata ont été bien courtes. Du coup, un peu fatigué, pas très motivé, j’avais pas envie de parler à des gens ce jour là. J’ai laissé Iris faire la conversation pendant que je faisais un peu mon asocial. Mais bon, je me suis vite rattrapé par la suite. Tammy et Drew font partis des couchsurfeurs comme je les aime, avec un parfait équilibre entre leurs affaires à eux, et le temps consacré aux gens qui squattent leur canapé. Là encore, ça a été l’occasion de nombreuses discussions, d’échanges sympas, et de beaucoup de rigolades. Ils ont réveillé mon humeur un peu sarcastique, et avec beaucoup de second degré, et j’avoue que ça m’a fait plaisir de le retrouver. C’est étrange à dire. D’autant que je ne m’étais pas rendu compte que je l’avais perdu. Bref, quelques très bons moment avec eux. C’est aussi à ce moment là qu’Iris a continué vers Ballarat pour aller s’occuper de deux adorables petites pestes. Ou quelques choses du genre. Le séjour chez Tammy et Drew (et aussi Nick, mais c’est vrai que j’ai passé beaucoup plus de temps avec les deux premiers) a aussi été l’occasion de découvrir Chapel St, une autre rue de St Kilda, plus loin de la plage, et à nouveau avec ce petit côté Melbourgeois un peu bohème, un peu plein de choses, qui me plait temps ici, et qui a permis à St Kilda de remonter dans mon estime, maintenant que je sais qu’il suffit de s’éloigner de la plage et des backpackers pour que tout aille mieux.

Me voilà de retour à Northcote. Chez Ned, Rosie, Sophie et Prawn (ou un truc du genre, parce que Prawn, ça veut dire crevettes, et je ne pense pas que ce soit un prénom pour un gars). Et là encore et une fois de plus, les contacts se passent bien, je rigole, et tout va bien.

J’avais déjà eu ce sentiment, en novembre, quand on cherchait nos premiers canapés à Melbourne. J’étais tombé sur beaucoup plus de profils sympas et inspirants qu’à Sydney. Je le redécouvre à nouveau. Je passe mon temps, en ce moment, à rencontrer des gens avec qui je m’entends super bien, et ça compense un peu le manque de motivation du côté du travail. Ça fait pas mal longtemps, maintenant, que je n’utilise couchsurfing juste pour dormir chez des gens, et je suis un peu tanné de ça. Pour moi, il y a très clairement un côté « donner au suivant ». C’est peut être un peu bête, mais j’étais quand même content de pouvoir dire, à Montréal, que j’avais donné beaucoup plus que ce que j’avais reçu sur CS. Mais là, j’ai le sentiment que la balance est en train de changer. J’ai hâte de recommencer à donner. J’ai l’impression que c’est ma principale motivation à me trouver un job et un appartement. Pouvoir recommencer à héberger, et organiser des événements. Parce qu’il faut bien le dire… tant que je serais à squatter chez des gens, sans beaucoup d’argent, et à essayer de trouver un boulot, je n’aurais pas vraiment d’énergie et de motivations pour organiser quoi que ce soit ! Enfin, ce n’est pas parce que l’épicerie fine dont la moitié des produits est constitué de fromages vient de me répondre qu’ils ont trouvé quelqu’un qui convenait mieux que moi (après tout, soyons réaliste, il y a des gens qui sont plus passionné de bouffe que moi, qui maîtrise mieux les fromages, et tout le reste) que je vais me laisser abattre. D’ailleurs, il y a aussi une bonne nouvelle dans tout ça : j’ai un entretient d’embauche lundi, pour travailler dans une multinationale, mondialement reconnue ! La classe, non ?

Ah oui, j’ai aussi des nouvelles d’Helpx. J’ai un endroit plus permanent où rester à partir de vendredi prochain. Ce week end, c’est mariage, lundi je suis encore ici, ne me reste plus qu’à trouver un canapé pour mardi-mercredi-jeudi. Ouf !

Comme quoi, tout va bien à Melbourne !

Work in progress…

Depuis le temps que je veux en faire un de time lapse, il était temps que je m’y mette ! Et Melbourne devrait s’y prêter particulièrement bien. Surtout si on rajoute du tilt shift par dessus. Qu’est-ce que c’est que tout ce charabia ? Une façon d’utiliser mon appareil photo qui me plait énormément. Premiers tests aujourd’hui. Ça devrait m’occuper un moment, mais j’ai bien l’intention de rendre hommage à Melbourne comme il se doit.