One boy, a haircut and a wedding: Busselton WA

Never in my wildest dreams had I imagined hosting a wedding in our backyard! But yesterday, Miss Colombia and Mr Italy got hitched at The Hive!

Needless to say, our adventure of hosting travellers continues to surprise and grow our family. New and unique experiences are becoming the norm but I feel certain……. this week will be etched in our memories forever.

It all began a few weeks ago when Miss Columbia and Mr Italy announced they were going to get married. We were very excited for them and agreed the ceremony could take place in our garden followed by a lunch for fifteen. It was to be low key, with only a few close friends.

Area for official proceedings

At first we didn’t tell the children, although I think by this stage they are becoming accustomed to unusual happenings in our backyard. When we told them last week, there were a few wide eyes and ‘are you serious?’ comments but they were game and ready to get involved.

What followed, was a day that can only be described as magical. The low key event suddenly transformed into a day that involved contributions from everyone invited. Each little detail as surprising and endearing as the last. With little discussion between parties, we were astounded at how everyone found their role and the whole day came together.

The afternoon before, we arrived home with our secret bag of decorations to find the best man cutting the groom’s hair! We were surprised and entertained by such a sight beside our shed. But the surprises didn’t stop there.

The hairdresser of wedding eve became chef on wedding day with a stream of pizzas flowing from our oven followed by Crostata for dessert. Another friend suddenly transformed into a Columbian wedding singer with Spanish music flowing from our garden.

Pizza and Crostata for lunch
The wedding singer

Miss 12 took on the role of ring bearer and Master 15 cinematographer, recording the whole event for the Colombian and Italian families. Mr and Mrs Travel Bee you ask?? Yes, you guessed it….. we were the stand in parents rushing around decorating, stressing over small details and popping the champagne.

Champagne ready

It truely was a day to cherish. There were secret tears and not so secret tears, smiles to end all smiles and a general relaxed feel of people who embrace the ride of life.

And when the day came to an end, some retreated home, some to their camper, one to our couch and us to our beds. I for one could not sleep. I don’t know whether it was the excitement of the day or the expresso martini I had mid afternoon but I was buzzing!

Today, things have settled down and ‘normal’ backpacker activities have resumed including the return of one boy!!

1BOY (the number plate!)

One boy is part of a convoy of campers that have stayed at our house over the last few months. Vans that have been converted in the most ingenious ways to provide a home to the backpackers of Australia. A bed, sink, compartments, solar panel and a water tank. All the essentials comprising a home away from home.

But, I have a soft spot for one boy! I have loved watching the Italian boys come together to help their fellow traveller Master 19 fit out his van with all the key items his more seasoned compatriots have advised.

At the tender age of 19 one boy’s owner is a brave kid who is lucky to have found such generous and experienced country men right here in Busselton. There is no doubt he was the shyest wedding guest but when we found out his age we were so impressed with his quiet and courteous nature.

I can’t help but wonder if in only four short years Master 15 might find himself on the other side of the world experiencing one such day!! A frightening yet humbling thought.

There is one thing for sure, our backyard is never dull. It looks like we will only have the pleasure of the now Mrs Columbia and Mr Italy for the rest of this week. Only time will tell what happens next!

TTB

The Maldives – virtual adventure – Part 1

First up on my travel wish list is the Maldives. We had a trip booked to the Maldives and Sri Lanka for January 2021 but Covid-19 had other plans for us. Our dreams of an exotic island getaway and safari are now on hold for the foreseeable future.

Fortunately, we saw the writing on the wall months ago and booked a ‘back up’ holiday within Western Australia. We are looking forward to our visit to Esperance in a couple of months and I to the prospect of some real-life travel writing. It will even entail a few similar details with pristine beaches and clear waters, unfortunately no elephants or leopards though.

But…….. for now I am on a ‘virtual’ mission to learn more about the Maldives.

Image care of: https://www.ttgasia.com/2020/06/01/maldives-outlines-guidelines-for-reopening-of-resorts/

The picture says it all. Sun, sand and sea……… three of my absolute favourite things in the world. Throw in some coral, fish, a snorkel and some good food and I am truly in heaven. These are the reasons I have wanted for many years, to visit the Maldives. I imagine stepping off my own jetty and immersing myself into a world of colour, life and intrigue. One that is so far removed from normal life, I will be able to think of nothing but what is in front of me.

There will be lots of ‘oooos and ahhhs’ from the children and we will madly try to get each others attention to point out fish, wonderful coral and sea turtles. In the evening, we will shower and stroll along the board walk to indulge ourselves in a scrumptious dinner. We will chat about the amazing creatures we saw and plan for windsurfing lessons and snorkel tours. Then we will sleep like babies to the sound of water gently lapping beneath us.

Sounds amazing right??……

Until recently I hadn’t really thought about the logistics of how all that happens. Things like………………. how there is even electricity on an island in the middle of the ocean? how does the food come in? how do guests get their fresh water to drink? how do we even get to these remote places? is travelling here sustainable? This week I switched my bedtime reading to research on the Maldives and in particular how this tiny nation is coping amid our rapidly changing world.

The answer is not too well. If I could have picked any destination in the world to blog about the impacts of climate change, I could not have picked one that is more affected. Some predict, that if sea levels continue to rise at current rates, 75% of the Maldives will be under water by 2100.

Heaven ……. gone. Just like that.

As a nation that produces very little carbon emissions themselves, Maldivians must feel pretty miffed that they are going to be affected by the rest of the world’s choices in such a catastrophic way. To top it off, they are by no means a rich nation. In the past, other more affluent nations such as Japan, have helped build sea walls for the capital of Male. Today, the Maldives is still classified a ‘developing’ country. Although they do get funding from the United Nations ‘Green Climate Fund’ and their economy has greatly improved in the last couple of decades (with an increase in tourism) it still might not be enough to build the sea walls required to protect the islands from rising sea levels.

I should stop here and let you know some important figures. The Maldives are a collection of island in the Indian Ocean off the southern tip of India. The country is made up of 26 atolls or groups of islands. In total there are around 1190 islands (yes you read that right!) of which, almost 200 are inhabited. Now you should have some idea of why it is so difficult to protect this place.

In 2008 the Maldivian president at the time sensationally looked into purchasing a new homeland, to move his citizens and basically just let the islands sink (apparently a piece of Australia was even considered!!) This idea has since been shelved, but it just illustrates how bad the situation is and how long we have known there is a major problem. Today’s ideas are focusing more on increasing revenue through tourism and selling off islands privately. The government is also looking at moving residents onto fewer islands, condensing the population and thereby reducing the number of islands that need protection.

From what I have read, it seems difficult to come up with a consensus on what should happen. There are ‘catch-22s’ with any of these solutions. Increased tourism means increased flights, bigger airport, more land clearance, more carbon emissions, more demand for water. The list goes on. But the question remains, where else can they generate the necessary revenue? In the end it will likely be a combination of tactics.

One thing is for sure, the tourism industry is mighty important to the Maldives’ economy and accounts for around 39% of the GDP with fishing coming in as the second largest industry. As you can imagine, the absolute last thing this country needed right now was a pandemic!! Just when the country’s economy was improving, Covid-19 is likely to again force this country back into some hard times. It is clear to me, that when we can, we should still go and support this little country that depends so much on tourist dollars. If we don’t………… well, they might literally sink (and I might cry).

In my next installment I will discuss how the resorts on these tiny remote islands are doing their part to reduce their carbon emissions, helping to regenerate the coral reefs and assist in protecting the fishing industry.

The Virtual Travel Bee

https://amp.theguardian.com/environment/2017/mar/03/maldives-plan-to-embrace-mass-tourism-sparks-criticism-and-outrage

https://blogs.worldbank.org/endpovertyinsouthasia/bracing-climate-change-matter-survival-maldives

https://www.oyster.com/articles/17-things-we-wish-we-knew-before-we-went-to-the-maldives/

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2125198-on-front-line-of-climate-change-as-maldives-fights-rising-seas/

https://mobile.reuters.com/article/amp/idUSKBN1ZG0XS

https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/01/23/maldives-protect-mangroves-further-loss

https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/what-are-the-biggest-industries-in-maldives.html

A life on our planet

#sustainabletravel#alifeonourplanet

For months (since the start of the Covid pandemic) I have been searching for new inspiration. I have asked questions of myself…………..How can I be travel writer when I can’t travel? Do I have anything else interesting to say? I tried a parenting blog about the challenges facing us and our children with Covid, but it fizzled…… mainly because I live in an area that for the last six months has been really quite unaffected by it all. Our children here in WA, have a normal life again.

Our government has virtually shut us off, not only from the rest of the world, but from the rest of the country. This has been great on one hand, we have all felt very safe and have had the luxury of carrying on our day to day activities in our new normal way. We haven’t had to worry about outbreaks or our friends getting sick and dying and for that I am truly grateful. However, on the other hand it has felt somewhat isolating. Families have been torn apart and as we approach Christmas there seems no end in sight to our separation. It is fortunate that we have such a vast state with so many areas we have yet to explore, but for me it is just NOT normal being this restricted.

I have been thinking about what it is to travel and what it means to me. I guess in a nutshell, I love to see something new, to see the way different people live their lives and to see the vastness and complexities of our planet. This has got me thinking about our planet because I guess that is really what I am in love with! We don’t treat her well and one does have to wonder if this virus is just one of mother nature’s ways of beginning to reset some of our wrongs. There is absolutely no question earth is in trouble.

Last week I watched David Attenborough’s ‘A life on our planet’. I started it alone but in hearing what I was watching, the family slowly gathered. Without me saying it, one by one, they all realised this was something they needed to see. At first it was like watching a horror movie. The statistics of what has happened to the world in one man’s lifetime is utterly staggering. The tears flowed (well for me anyway). The children’s jaws dropped. My husband shook his head. My son in particular looked very worried. But there is hope. David came to the rescue, telling us what needs to be done and that we DO still have time to fix things. But things must change.

What really hit home for me, is that age old mentality of ‘well I can’t fix it on my own so I might as well carry on as I am’ just isn’t going to cut it any more. We all need to be in on this. There are changes we can make that I had never dreamed of and that really are not that hard. For example, I hadn’t really thought too much about what we choose to eat or where our money is invested and how it impacts the natural world. In essence, the main thing that is required is space. Space to ‘re-wild the planet’ as David calls it. The amount of space taken in food production for example, is truly astounding.

So, how does this affect me and my travel writing? Well, it made me realise that to travel in this day and age may in fact be a very selfish act. There is my carbon footprint to consider, the impact I have moving around delicate parts of the planet, the food choices I make when I am away, just to name a few. With this in mind and no end to our current situation in sight, it is time to join the rest of the virtual world and embark on some virtual travel writing. To love my world and to explore from afar.

What is stopping me from doing some research and writing about the places that I want to travel to? To do it armed with new knowledge and from a slightly different slant? To explore how humans have affected my destinations and how we humans are now trying to mitigate our wrong doings. To find out how, when I finally do get to visit these places, I can do so in a sustainable fashion without making things worse for our planet. I could even take a step back into some of the places I have already visited and look for the things I missed when I was there.

Sustainable energy: wind and solar powered lights Busselton foreshore

In reality many of the places I dream of visiting don’t even exist in the way I imagine them. Places like the Great Barrier Reef isn’t what it was 20 years ago, the open plains of Africa have shrunk, rainforests are half the size they were. Yet in my imagination they are how it was…… in their ‘hay day’. As David Attenborough says himself, he has been incredibly lucky to see what he has in his 93 years but also not. Seeing the decline before his very eyes must have been terrifying.

If you have not already, please do yourself, your family and our world a favour and watch this film. It will invoke shock, sadness but above all hope. Let us ‘re-wild’ earth so that our future generations can enjoy what we have.

The Virtual (and hopefully sustainable) Travel Bee