Did you guys hear about this? The best job in the world? The Australian tourism board is paying some lucky shmo $100,000 to live in a villa on Hamilton Island in the Great Barrier Reef for six months, explore the region, have lots of fun, make discoveries, and blog about it all. Um. Yeah. They just chose the winner out of some 15,000 applicants. (Only 15,000? I'd have thought there would be a lot more.) Here is the full job description. Hm. I think I need to see some pictures before I decide if I'd do that job . . .
Okay, that's enough. Yeah, I suppose I'd take that job. In a heartbeat!
When I was a young traveler, both post-high school on my big solo Eurrail expedition, and on various trips post-college, I fantasized about being much more adventurous than I was, and more resourceful too. I heard about backpackers who worked at youth hostels that were converted castles, or who hobo'ed about taking seasonal work on farms and at ski resorts, doing whatever, drifting along gathering fascinating life experiences. The closest I came to doing anything daring was staying over in Paris for three months and getting a job babysitting a six-year-old French boy after school. Well, Antoine was sort of an adventure -- he had the worst temper tantrums I'd ever seen! But that wasn't quite the kind of adventure I had in mind.
I wanted to have a fascinating life! In my early 20s I took sailing lessons and read accounts of solo sailing trips like the classic Dove, by Robin Graham who set off on his around-the-world sail in 1965 at the age of 16. And Maiden Voyage, by Tania Aebi who set out in 1988 at age 18. (I believe her father saw her aimlessness and offered to pay for college OR a sailboat, the catch being, if she chose the boat, she had to sail it around the world alone. Um? Was he trying to kill her?) Both books (entirely TRUE!) are full of adventure and romance and peril, and when I was young, I so longed for that kind of transformative experience. Without the near-death parts, though -- but I think the near-death experiences are part of the package when you're talking about adventure on that scale. I mean, I never in my wildest dreams wanted to solo sail around the world. Maybe just crew a big ritzy boat on which experienced sailors were making the decisions. A big, ritzy boat with satellite navigation, I should add, which neither Robin Graham nor Tania Aebi had. Tania Aebi, if I recall correctly, was doing her celestial navigation wrong and missed her first landfall, only finding her way by chance to an entirely different island -- she could easily have died on the very first leg of her trip! Oy. Yeah. I loved the idea of such adventures, after the fact of them having been lived through, you know?
Anyway, my sailing adventures never made it out of San Francisco Bay; I've still never sailed on the open ocean -- well, I suppose I did that one time off the Turkish Coast, with Jim, but we were just passengers, lolling and swimming and getting the worst sunburns of our lives. Plus, the coast was always in sight. So that doesn't count. Sailing's not a featured dream of mine anymore, really. My National Geographic Adventurer "Tours of a Lifetime" issue was delivered last week, and that always puts me an alternately dreamy and grumpy mood. This year = more dreamy, less grumpy, since adventure travel in the near future is not realistic anyway.
The kind of life-adventure-travel dreams I harbor now are:
--in future, when there are a couple of kids in the picture (hopefully), and they're big enough for some moderate adventure: a year off school to travel around the world. That trip would include things like: a camel trek in Morocco; various festivals in India; tracking tigers through a jungle on elephant-back (if there are tigers left by then -- did you know there are less than 5000 wild tigers in the world?); maybe a horse-trek in Mongolia (yep, that's one of the National Geographic-featured tours. Can you imagine?) For whatever reason, the romance of sailing seems to have been usurped in my mind by these exotic animal treks. Here's another: a reindeer trek up to far-northern Scandinavia to see the Aurora Borealis. And: a cross-country ski expedition somewhere far north on which dog sleds carry the gear and polar bear are sighted. You know, while there are still polar bears, which probably won't be long. And I really want to go to Borneo, while there's still jungle left there, before it's all palm oil plantations and wasteland. Sensing a theme? Hang in there, world, we haven't gotten to see you yet!!! (I know this trip sounds very expensive. Don't worry. My plan is to discover pirate treasure at regular intervals along the way.)
--in the nearer future, and this isn't really an adventure exactly: rent an apartment in Rome for 3 months or 6 months, and just live and work there, falling into the Italian rhythm of life, taking little trips hither and thither. Completely within the realm of the possible, yes?
-- not to neglect my "Mango World Tour"! Tasting every variety of mango in existence, on every land mass on which they grow. tee hee. I think this one can be a lifelong footnote to all exotic travel destinations. Footnote=go during mango season!
And more. And more. Do you think some tourist board will pay me a salary to do these things and blog about them? Is there an Earth tourist board? Trying to attract extraterrestrial tourists to boost the ailing Earth economies? Hey, now there's an idea . . .
What are you adventure dreams? What is your "best job in the world"?
P.S. Silksinger ARC is up for auction at Bridget Zinn's auction site! And lots of other cool stuff too.