Being without a phone is so difficult! Back in the States (yes, I speak the lingo now), I used to enjoy hiding my phone from myself and being un-contact-able, disconnected from facebook and the internet and the world at large. But being in a foreign place without such a luxury is difficult because half of the time, I don’t know where I am and the other half, I don’t know how to get where I am going. Google maps would be nice; the online bus and train schedule would be nice; being able to CALL PEOPLE would be nice. But I am back to the days of naught. And today (as nearly every since I’ve been here) I could have really used a phone.
What happened was, I got lost in a suburb of Sydney. I told a friend I’d meet up with him after he vaguely described where he’d be (he pointed to a map before he left, and I heard the name “The Switch.” Turns out, I read it incorrectly, and he took Military Road backwards and to the left while I went straight, and I walked two miles in the wrong direction.
And the name of the café was “The Swerve,” not the Switch, so I couldn’t ask anyone for directions.) Anyway, I had no way of contacting him because HE doesn’t have a phone (well, not one with a local number, and no Aussie’s going to say, “Sure, call America on my mobile”), so I finally gave up looking and sat down at this wi-fi café called Bar Pistevo. The great thing about Sydney is there are TONS of cafes, seemingly on every corner, which excites me to an unhealthy degree because I want to stop at all of them, but there are only few with wi-fi. Thankfully I brought my computer in hopes of getting work done, so I was able to send him a Facebook message and all was solved.
So that is where I currently am—sipping one of the most delicious hot chocolates ever, though it’s only about 4 oz and cost $3.50, and I’m wishing I could ask to supersize it. They drew a swirly heart on top, in the foam and cocoa powder, and what would have been awesome is if I had taken a picture of it, but instead I spooned it up heartily. Sorry.
Back to the no-phone issue. So the other day I was meeting some girls at Bondi Beach, and I didn’t have time to investigate the bus/train schedule before I left the boondocks suberb, lest I miss the bus, so I left the house totally confused. The problem, the first problem, anyway, was that the final leg of my journey was on a pre-paid bus only, but I didn’t know where or how to pre-pay for this bus. I decided I would find a friendly looking person on the train to ask if they knew.
For half of the train ride, no one sat near me except for a girl who looked unamused by life and fell asleep, and a couple of other people who were, ironically, engaged on their telephones. Finally a friend-looking older couple boarded the train and sat behind me. I sucked up the courage to ask them if they were familiar with Bondi Beach, and:
They were from Germany.
The good news: I got to practice my high school German, which is the first time I’ve actually spoken German phrases to Germans other than to say, “Ich spreche ein bisschen Deutsch”—meaning, I speak a little German. (Frau Bell would have been proud, or highly disappointed depending on how badly I sounded, but I told them I had traveled to Germany and I took German for three years and some other things), and they were, in fact, friendly people. But they were of no help.
Finally, on the train stop before mine, a young couple boarded and sat in front of me. They had an Aussie accent, so I asked them if they were familiar with Bondi Beach.
Nope! They weren’t from Sydney. It was their first time to Bondi, too, but they had already bought the pre-paid tickets at some station somewhere.
What happened was, I ended up asking a tattooed teenager if I could use his phone to find my friends (“my phone does text only”), and thankfully my friends found me mid-composition. They helped me secure a bus pass from a guy who looked like he was illegally scalping tickets, so it worked out in the end. (Praise the Lord)
I’m buying a cheap phone in New Zealand, definitely.