Life is what happens when you’re making plans, am I right? Recently Sean and I found ourselves in a series of unfortunate events which made us realise this more than ever.
We were subletting a friends apartment in Melbourne and working to save our money to buy a camper van and take it up the east coast, spending New Year in Byron Bay for a music festival and planning to hit up all the touristy spots like Fraser Island and Whitsundays after that. Our friend, Amy, from back home was joining us for the trip and we planned to do it for 5 weeks, living out the van, tunes on, care free, living simple – we were absolutely buzzing with excitement. Shortly before Christmas we had managed to scrape together enough money to buy a camper , after trailing through every possible camper van listing on Gumtree and having many failed attempts to secure a van, we finally found ‘The One’. She was a 1991 Mitsubishi Express named Mollie, fully equipped with everything you need for a memorable road trip including a guitar. We bought her the day we went to view her on the 18/12/17 and we could not wipe the smiles from our faces, it felt so satisfying to save so hard for something and finally be able to buy it. That was us set for the trip of a lifetime… or so we thought.
Days later on the 22/12 we woke up to find our beloved van had been stolen. Gone without a trace except a few tiny pieces of broken glass on the pavement. At first we were in disbelief, perhaps it had been towed? But that didn’t make sense. We phoned the police, but apart from that there was not much else we could do, except hope for the best. We tried to hold our heads high and get on with enjoying the festive period with friends but in reality we were worried, really really worried. Our plans were now up in the air, what were we going to do? We had already left our jobs in Melbourne in preparation of starting our trip up to Byron, so we had no more income, we had moved out our apartment too and were living in a hostel. Amy had came all this way to join us for the trip that now looked less and less likely that it would happen. I phoned the police every day desperately hoping for an update but with no luck.
We started to panic it was now the 26/12 the Festival which we had tickets for was starting in 5 days and was approximately 1,622km away (a 16hr drive) and we were meant to be leaving to start the drive the next day, but with no van and not a lot of money it didn’t look likely. We tried van rental companies – surprise, surprise they were all booked out. We looked for flights- they were all over $600 one way and we would have to take all our belongings to the festival. We felt hopeless, disheartened and down-right miserable, for the first time since arriving in Australia I felt like I wanted to go home. I wanted to see my family and have familiar faces around me, I cried. I felt like we were doing all of this wrong, why were we out here on the other side of the world putting ourselves in this position of uncertainty and bad luck!?
The next day we had all but resigned ourselves to the fact that we wouldn’t make it to the festival and were just looking at what our options were for staying in Melbourne when I got a missed call. I called it back, it was a towing company claiming they had our van; it had been abandoned at a no-stopping sign only 15 minutes away from where we had been staying!!! Even more perplexing was that it had actually been found one day after it had been stolen and the police had not informed us! We went to the towing yard straight away, anxious that the van would be trashed or looted. When we arrived we found the van exactly how we had left it, not a scratch and not a thing taken from it, it felt like a miracle. We happily paid the $380 towing fee, feeling like that was a fraction of what our issues were only hours before and immediately started the drive up to Byron Bay and didn’t look back.
We made it to the festival on time and went to get our wristbands to grant us entry. I handed over my ticket that I had bought off a resale website (because all the tickets were sold out), when the girl scanned it, the ticket flashed up as already scanned in. I couldn’t believe it. The person who sold it to me had taken my money and used the ticket for her own gain. I was furious and thought I wouldn’t get to go in to the festival but luckily they had backup tickets for these situations. So I had to buy ANOTHER ticket, we were broke but decided we were here now and we might as well party and forget about all the stuff that had happened the past week. So we did.
In the end, we ended up spending some time chilling out in Byron after the festival and decided to postpone our East Coast road trip until a time where we were more financially secure and would enjoy it more. Probably a wise move. We pursued a job opportunity in a Backpackers hostel in a place called Townsville. We got there to find that it wasn’t much of a backpackers at all and in fact was mostly being used as a Red Cross sheltered housing unit with many unfortunate souls using drugs and crime as a means to an end. We didn’t feel safe so we left and now we are here in Sydney figuring out our next move.
The point of all this is that it taught us so much. We didn’t come out here on the idea that everything would be plain sailing, in fact I knew it would have its hardships and problems, but you still don’t forsee yourself being robbed and lied to by people. It made me realise that not everybody has the same morals as I do, it made me take off my rose tinted glasses and I will admit I am more cynical for these experiences. I no longer take things at face value, I am far more skeptical of people and their intentions. Is this a bad thing? Yes and No. I think it’s important to maintain a happy and positive attitude to the world even when it has shown you how mean and unfair life can be at times but I also think that I needed this, these are the experiences that shape you as a person and make you a more well-rounded individual, as cheesy as it sounds Sean and I came out of this stronger and more equipped to deal with whatever life throws at us.
Moral of the story? Shit happens for no apparent reason and it hurts but don’t lose hope because often good things come from really shitty situations. I will leave you with this thought – Happiness isn’t the absence of problems but the ability to deal with them.
PS – We recently sold the van to another backpacking couple in the hope that it brings them more luck than it did us. We couldn’t afford to keep her as she needed some work done and we were all out of cash. Some things are just not meant to be.
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