Bellingen, NSW

Today I’m writing from a cafe called the Bookafe, which is pretty much just what it sounds like. A far cry from a Borders or Barnes & Noble cafe, this is a small place with some shelves filled with used books along the walls, some tables, some well-loved couches, a horde of plants, a buddha and a vegetarian kitchen with a juicer in the back. The tip jar proclaims that any $ collected will be donated to Amnesty International. I’m sipping a “Tango,” which is pineapple juice, coconut milk and mint. Kind of a healthy pina colada, but made with real ingredients instead of canned coconut milk or mixer. Waiting for a felafel salad to come out, but very happy to be sitting here among the used books. 

Where is here? Bellingen, NSW, Australia. Small (about 2000 residents) hippie town in the rainforest that is making me superhappy. Staying at the backpacker’s hostel, which is giving me happy flashbacks to my years working in hiking lodges and huts in the mountains. There’s an Israeli dance band staying there too, Funk’n’stein, that’s playing in town tonight. They are part of the reason I’m at the cafe now…I was on the porch, online, skyping and IRCing with the Automattic gang, when a ping pong game got a little more exuberant than was safe for me, where I was sitting. I decided it was time for a field trip, starting with lunch. 

From my bedroom last night I looked out over a pasture and woods leading down to the river, with mountains in the background. This morning I was enthralled watching flocks of birds flying in alternate directions through the trees. Also? Cows in the pasture. At the hostel itself, a friendly cat makes me miss Ribbit and Lucy, and there are two chickens. One is black and feathered, the other is yellow and fuzzy. They wander around, sometimes walking over your feet if you happen to be in their way (for example, hanging laundry). A bumper sticker on their little coop says Hippie Chicks Rule. Cue additional flashback. The people at the hostel  compost, recycle, and have naked pictures of happy visitors swimming in the river all over the walls. People hang out on the porch or by the river or play guitar. It’s peaceful. Makes me want to go back to Vermont, the Adirondacks, the White Mountains or Western Washington. There are bugs, though, and I’m sporting bites up and down my legs. 

When I was driving up here from Newcastle, I noticed that there is a big promotional campaign for road safety. Signs all over the place tell drivers to take a rest every 2 hours of driving. “Stop. Revive. Survive.” Another series of billboards features Jennifer Love Hewitt (or a dead ringer) crooking a little finger. “Speeding. No one thinks big of you.” The implication that if you’re speeding you have a small penis cracks me up every time I pass it (generally not going too much over the speed limit). 

When I got to town yesterday I stopped at what I thought was an internet cafe. It turned out that one door was for a cafe, while the other was a business that just sold internet access by the hour (leading me to tell my co-workers I was at the internet store). Internet here is pricier than in the U.S., and for residential accounts there are bandwidth caps that would hobble many of my friends in the U.S.

Anyway, have largely finished my lunch now, so am going to head out to see Dorrigo, a little further into the rainforest. Internet is very slow up here, which is why no pictures are posted yet, but as soon as I get on a reasonable connection, I’ll rectify the situation.