October 18th 1983

posted in: The way back | 0

We gave the embassy long enough to get in, have a cup of coffee, wake up, + most important, open their mail-box, + then rang them.  Yes, they’d received our passports (phew), yes they would process them as fast as possible (phew).  Why didn’t I ring this afternoon + see if they were ready?  Ho hum yes, if you like.  Rang TNT.  Last possible time for pick-up to guarantee arrival in Cairns by morning?  4-5 pm.  Cutting it a bit fine, but fine, thanks.  So, assuming it would arrive, spent the rest of the morning shopping.  Mainly vast quantities of dried foods to take with us on the trail, but other necessaries too – insect repellent, a blanket, a razor.

At 2.30 I rang again.  Everything was fine so far, but the consul hadn’t arrived back yet to sign the visa.  Try again at 3.30.  Rang TNT again – pick up passports from Indonesian embassy please.  Can I arrange it thro’ you, or should I ring the Sydney office myself?  I’ll do it, says he.  Ring back in 15 mins, + I’ll tell you if it’s all arranged.  So we did.  Oh yes, good news + bad news.  Bad first.  a) Indonesian embassy doesn’t accept our courier bag service, only embassy that doesn’t, so b) package must go freight.  This costs nearer $30 rather than 11, and c) we must provide them with a contact name at the embassy BUT yes, we can do it.  By tomorrow morning!

So right, fine, I rang the embassy again.  What’s one more long-distance STD call after so many?  Spoke to someone different this time.  Twice, in fact – I ran out of money the first time.  Bad news was that the consul still wasn’t in, but was definitely expected this afternoon.  Mr Dardi was very helpful.  That’s not the consul, but the bloke I spoke to, the name I now gave to TNT when I rang them.  Pick up the parcel just before 5, I said, + then immediately began to pray the consul didn’t decide to take the afternoon off.  Life certainly isn’t easy.  We lashed out for tea, seeing as this may or possibly may not be our last evening in Australia.  We bought steak, + a cheesecake mix – I already had a couple of beers. 

Found a note back in our room tho’ from Mark.  He was a guy Val had met while she was canvassing the boats, + was now in a similar position to us, looking for a boat to take him to PNG, but prepared to fly if necessary.  He was on the waiting list for our flight, in fact, so presumably was waiting for us to cancel.  He was staying on a boat moored in town at the moment, so invited us out to see him.  So off we went, before cooking our tea.  It was a lovely big boat,  the “Isle of Skye”, built by Mark’s captain.  A bit of a long leap from the wharf to the boat, which fazed me more than a little, but Mark trod on the mooring rope to make it a little easier, + then gave me a beer, so no  worries.  We chatted a while, then Mark had another visitor.  This was an old guy called Bob Pfeng, captain of another boat, who came aboard to offer Mark a berth to New Guinea.  Lucky bastard was all I could think, but really I don’t begrudge him his opportunity.  Those in the yachting community are always more likely to be in with a chance.  Bob was quite an interesting old bloke – he’d worked in Popondetta at the end of the Kokoda trail for many years, so had quite a few things to tell us, most of them pretty horrific.  Afterwards, many farewells (not exactly tearful) + back to the hostel to cook tea.

I was a little drunk by now, but we rushed the cooking thro’ together so that I could plonk down in front of the TV to watch the film, “Brittania Hospital”, a sequel to “If” + “O Lucky Man”.  It was alright, I reckoned, but it didn’t meet with popular approval.  And then bed, not knowing whether this was our last night in Australia or not.  Crazy – if you told someone in the UK that you were flying out in the morning, but your passport was in Turkey this afternoon, they’d think you were out of your mind, but that’s more or less what we’re doing.  In terms of sheer distance, anyway.

Quite a lot of fun and games, but that’s pretty normal. I am fairly amazed that I managed as well as I did, as I am not at all comfortable on the phone (despite my previous calling in Sydney.) But we seem to have done all we can, so just have to keep our fingers crossed.

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