Monday, June 28, 2010

The hills are alive... with the sound of cow bells (oh ohoh ohhhh)

When I first landed myself in the southern Austrian Alps, I must admit, I thought I was on another planet. And all I wanted to do was get back on that eight hour train and ten hour overnight bus right back to the tranquil waters of Croatia where the sun always shines and the people are friendly. When I arrived it was rainy and cloudy, I swear I didn't see the sun for the first 72 hours. And my first encounter with the locals was at the Grünhütte, a bar/cafe atop a mountain where a dirty old drunken farmer obviously well on his way to paralysis slurred some words in some weird dialect of German in my face and tried to put his hand on my knee. Needless to say, I put it right back where it came from and informed him that "Ich spreche nicht gut Deutsch", which in English means "Please stop talking to me, you dirty old farmer (figuratively speaking)". I was pretty glad to get out of there. So why did I bring myself to this strange land you might ask?

Well, it is all in the name of saving money. Same as I did Workaways in Italy, I decided leading some hiking tours in the Austrian Alps wouldn't be so bad. And it isn't. As I'm finding as I travel, when you tough things out, they only get better. Sometimes they can even be a highlight, as my sister Beth would say. This probably isn't a highlight, but it's not so bad. A few days later the sun came out and I even got to lead a couple of people on a hike (despite not even having walked it myself... it's okay, I can read signs). One of them turned around and went back a third of the way through, so the two of us remaining toughed it out, even though it was kind of rainy and it was all uphill. So the deal is I get 2 euros 50 for every person I take on a hike, and then at nights I work about 4 hours behind the bar at the Hotel. For this I get meals, a bed and unlimited beer, wine and soft drink.

Yesterday I had to map out a new hiking route. This new hiking route should probably take 4 hours, round trip. For me, it took 6 and a half. Now, before you think I am extremely unfit and ridiculously stupid, I was armed with a really crappy map (which I subsequently dropped in a creek when I bent down to get a drink of water... I nearly fell in trying to retrieve it, but in the end I got my soggy map) and there was a big chunk of the walk which was through a paddock and really badly marked. Then I tried to take a shortcut back to the hotel because it was getting late and I had to scramble through the bush getting stung by nettles and falling off rocks and logs (and can I just quietly say, THOSE NETTLE STINGER THINGS HURT.) I came out onto the main road, and I am sure I must have looked like Jane from Tarzan with dirt on my face and twigs in my hair... but I made it. And achieved my objective... to map out a new trail where no (wo)man has gone before. Sometimes I feel like I'm in Lord of the Rings, other times I feel like I'm in Enid Blyton's The Faraway Tree (the trees even make that wisha wisha wisha sound... am I showing my age here?), sometimes I feel like Maria Von Trapp, but mostly I just feel a bit bored.

Another plus to being stuck out here with nothing to do is that I have finally opened my Bible. After carting it around for six months and opening it probably only once (in Vietnam on a sleeper train when I thought we were going to contract a disease from the beds) I have decided to read it from front to back. I realise I have never done this before in my life - all the stories seemed so familiar to me since being drummed into us in Sunday School and high school,etc. But to read the Old Testament in order and with fresh eyes is fascinating. In fact, I have found a lot of things in the Old Testament which really concern me, and I can't believe I have never questioned some of it before. I could write a whole extra blog on what I have found reading it, but I won't bore you all. If anyone has any insight into this, feel free to email me, because I find the God that exists in the Old Testament seems contradictory to everything I am led to believe about him in the New Testament and beyond. How could the Israelites trust in a God who turned on them all the time and condoned stoning, burning and stabbing people to death for some seemingly minor offences? And some of the justifications for making war with their neighbours seem similar to the excuses you hear come out of the mouths of fundamentalist religious people who think it is holy to blow themselves up. But anyway, it is certainly interesting reading. I found once I started, it became like one of those novels you can't put down, except that it's actually real history and really small writing and heaps and heaps of pages. Heaps and HEAPS of pages...

So anyway, this is what I dedicate my days to, I'm also getting better at speaking Dutch and German, although I always get the two confused. Oh, and Australia finally made the news here with our new Kath & Kim-like Prime Minister. I watched Rudd's speech on YouTube and it nearly made me cry... poor Rudd! And I watched Gillard's speech and it made me laugh because of her accent and the chicken head bobbing. But I think she might be ok, only time will tell. Although if she holds an election while I'm overseas it's kind of annoying because I have no idea how to vote... ah well.

Do do do do...

Look at the way these weeds and prickles taunt me... surely there is no way through this wilderness...

But nothing is impossible for Megan, Weed Warrior! Fear me, oh weeds and stingers (did I mention earlier that those things hurt!). Armed with my Scythe of Carinthia (I left my machete at home, unfortunately...) I will slaughter you mercilessly! Feel my wrath.

Check out the path I made. Suck on that stingers. Goodness wins again! Who needs a lawn mower? (or a real scythe, or a machete...)

By the way, before the comments flow in, yes I have been reading too much Old Testament, yes, I did enjoy that just a little too much and yes, I do have too much time on my hands :)

Stay tuned for more adventures of Megan, Weed Warrior.

"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail"
Ralph Waldo Emerson


  1. What's with you always dropping important documents in the water? Bonehead. :)

  2. haha I almost forgot about that incident... wiped from the memory.

  3. Hello my fave wandering weed warrior :) Loved your post - giggled like a dweeb the whole way through.

    Your post made me think of the Frost poem "two roads diverged..." and how you are taking the road less travelled, so when I read your Emerson quote I had a good chuckle. Great minds think alike.

  4. Haha we really are nerdy English teachers aren't we? Glad you enjoyed it :)