Day 68 | Carnarvon Day 4: gee, 4 days already, I feel I just got here

rest day

Relaxed? You betcha.

The man has a plan, I’ll be pedalling hard enough in a few days, make the most of this time out of the saddle.

I spend some time mulling over life with Andy, the manager here. With conversations like this I mostly listen, letting my obvious interest do the work, just an occasional prompt to extract an even more outrageous confession, perhaps even, sometimes, with a basis of truth.

Andy had spent time as a speedway rider, four blokes competing on overpowered, brakeless, bikes of the motorised variety, noisily attempting to complete circuits on a far too short dirt track, the bike mostly sideways for extra traction. A worse than usual crash had stopped his participation: a few days coma, 8 months in hospital, a couple of years in rehab.

When you’ve died for a while you learn to appreciate life. Can’t kill him now.

I’m not sure I agree with the means to that conclusion but I endorse the sentiment.

The excitement of the first two nights in my Carnarvon accommodations has dissipated, the first evening didn’t start too auspiciously, 3 guys were creating a rancid soup over the stove, Datura, ie jimson weed, a psychotropic flower for the desparate, usually the bulletproof teenage generation, which can give vivid hallucinations, but also cause blindness, or death. It would take a particular culinary taste to keep that fetid concoction down.

Soon they were busting for a fight, and finding no one to pick on, they started amongst themselves, being in my room adjacent I could hear the shouting, plastic chairs hurtling against hard objects, the sound of something like cabbages being dropped from a height, crashing of bodies against walls, people scrabbling around on the ground, grunting, cursing and general noises of irritation.

Later I hear of someone ending up in hospital, not one of the grapplers, someone unrelated, a day of drinking at the pub followed by a large bottle of vodka, solo.

Surely it couldn’t get worse.

The second night one of the three laid into a guy, Fernie, sleeping on the lounge room floor, having been ejected from his allocated bunk due to excessive night noise, snoring. Unfortunately he now was sharing the nasal noise with the full set of inhabitants of the other 2 adjoining rooms.

Abruptly awakened, and maybe used to confrontations of the physical kind, Fernie didn’t take any nonsense and shortly had the instigator laying on the floor, arms pinned, fully supine. Game over, or so he thought.

A few minutes later he was hit from behind, in a headlock, strangled, choking, gurgling, muffled calls for assistance from Mark before, well, the situation didn’t sound at all healthy. I feared a coroner’s report was imminent but Mark ruthlessly sorted it out, he’s built like a tank, no messing with him, covered in tats, but that could describe any of them. Whatever the noiseless tactics were they were certainly effective.

Still later, despite the double dose of subduing violence, the antagonist had a third try, boots landing heavily on the prostrate Fernie, but the recently arrived Andy, the manager, a short, quick, guy sorts that out with a few hefty “love taps”. The cops finally arrive and the aggressor was arrested.

Times like this I just listen, in this case behind my locked, flimsy, door, as the events take place on our common wall. I might be the odd one out with these companions but I’m not a total wuss, I’ve got size and strength on my side, but maybe not the total street smarts for violence, and I have an underlying realisation that the first breakage will be my glasses and that would be quite the awkward predicament. Followed by expensive dental work. OK, I’m a wuss.

Next morning the three are ejected, obviously, well, the two remaining, the third, unable to get bail, has his own accommodation.

Fernie staggered to the hospital round the corner to get his three cracked ribs, black eye and various cuts attended to, hurt but more offended that there’s no honour in fighting any more. Back in the day you’d hug, make friends and go and have a beer together when it was all over.

He’s heading back to Perth with a couple of German Fraulien passengers, who don’t seems as horrified by the night’s activities as they should be.

That seatbelt will hold you together, I say, (it’s a 12 hour drive).

Don’t make me laugh, Fernie replies, laughing.

All quiet now, just polite, pleasant, long term travellers, mostly Europeans, talking earnestly about coral, swimming with dolphins or manta rays, sunny days and endless white, sandy, beaches.

The smell of the Datura has almost gone.

Can relax now.