The time I spent on Australia’s Central Coast probably saved my trip. As I discussed in my last post, I was sick for my first stint in Sydney. Really, really sick. I was exhausted and frustrated and in desperate need of renewal.
Andy’s parents provided exactly the respite I needed. I took a train heading north out of Sydney and they were waiting for me at the station when I arrived. Looking back, all I remember is how exhausted I was. I was trying so hard to stay awake on the car ride back to their house as I rode in the front seat, but it was almost like the car was rocking me to sleep. Mrs. Charlesworth, Andy’s mom and a natural caregiver, must have noticed my heavy eyes because she suggested I take a rest when we got home. I insanely grateful.
I really can’t explain how much I appreciated a mom and dad after months on the road. When I woke up, we had the first of many healthy, home cooked meals. It was everything I had been missing for months: veggies, lean meat, breads, fruit and dairy. They had planned a two-day tour for me of all the beaches along the coast and highlights of the town, so we packed a little picnic (“Oh, just tea and some snacks,” Mrs. Charlesworth downplayed) and went driving.
Over two days we explored Toowoon Bay, Norah Head, Avoca Beach and Terrigal Beach among other highlights of the Central Coast.
One of the highlights was the pelican feeding at The Entrance in Memorial Park which is done every day at 3:30 p.m.
They took me to the Central Coast Gallery or Ken Duncan Gallery, because Andy had told them how much I loved photography. I’ve never seen such beautiful photographs! Definitely worth checking out if you are ever in the Central Coast, but in the meantime, check out his online gallery.
They bought me hot cross buns, because I had never heard of them outside of the song. They even made sure I tried Vegemite.” Andrew would never let us hear the end of it if we didn’t have you try it,” they said.
My days there felt like “real life.”
They had reliable internet and I was able to FaceTime with my parents for the first time in two months. When my mom’s face appeared on the screen, I couldn’t say hi for a full 15 seconds for fear of choking on the tears. We sat in front of the t.v. and watched the Amazing Race one night. I remember thinking, “Wow… I’m living this show, right now, on my own.”
Andy’s father is a collector of stamps. He was hesitant to pull out the books at first, but I made it my mission to convince him. I was absolutely mesmerized by the history recorded on those decades of stamps. It remains one of the coolest collections I have ever seen. His mother is not only a fantastic cook, but a gifted gardener and I walked around the yard late one afternoon with my camera, determined to capture a hint of the beauty and serenity I felt in their garden.
I needed those days so desperately. Clean laundry, fresh sheets, real pillows, baked veggies, yeast bread, hot tea, fast internet, and mom and dad hugs. When I strapped on my backpack the fourth morning to head back to Sydney for round two, I was ready for it. Whatever the next two months were going to bring, I felt refreshed and rejuvenated. And thanks to the Charlesworths, I was.
In 2013, I quit my job and bought a one-way ticket to Thailand. After four months of backpacking I returned to the States and fell in love with a guy whose job sent us straight back to Asia. Nothing has gone according to plan... and it's been absolutely magical.