Campsite Slums and Luxury Beachside Holiday Homes… or… Still a Broke Drunk.

Lou once wrote me a text message from Bryon Bay, when she was traveling with her dad in Australia, and I was still living in Nelson, New Zealand.  The message said something like “oh man, you can practically smell the sex, drugs, and booze in this town! You’d love it!”  Well, she was right.  Sex, drugs, booze (the preferred local poison is called Goon.  Which is just box wine, the cheaper the better) and she was right, I do love it.

I love the disgusting, sickly sweet taste of the goon and I love its mind-bending effects.  I love the chaotic free-for-all of the Arts Factory with its slum-like campsite and its never-ending party.  I love the beach and the surf and women and I love the weather.

Lou and Courtney and I are all certified life-a-holics, so the party vibe and the goon and the good times almost immediately swelled to the edge of out of control.  I’ve been drunk –I mean black-out drunk or close to it— every night since I’ve been here. The Factory can house hundreds of people, maybe 400.  With that many young, promiscuous people in one place, you know things are going to get messy like a 3AM kebab with all the sauces. And those of you who know me, know that I like it messy.

So I booked in long-term, started looking for a job, and bought a tent.  I moved into the campsite with the semi-permanent degenerates.  I started reading Shantaram a few weeks ago, and the Arts Factory camp reminds me of the author’s descriptions of the slums in Bombay.  An endless patchwork of tents and tarps, bamboo sticks, mosquito netting and pieces of rope and cloth.  And it is a constant battle with the bugs, the spiders, the bush turkeys and the lizards, some as big as housecats. There are people who have lived there for years and I can see how easily you could lose a year in that place.  It’s like an opium den and a harem and a no-questions-asked hideout for runaways and  relapsed alcoholics and sexaholics.   life-a-holics, really. All of us. The place was a home for the homeless and I felt welcomed from the start.

I’d been there for a week and I was already settled in.  I had a real mattress in my tent, two milk crates for shelving, once cockroach, and endless mosquito bites.  I had no money, and I still don’t.

I checked my bank balance last week and realized that I had only $600 left, and that wasn’t enough for a plane ticket home.  And I wasn’t allowed to work in Australia because I was just on a tourist visa. I was fucked, so I bought a surfboard for $300.
Yeah, it was probably a dumb move, but I really wanted to enjoy my time here and knowing that I really had only $300 to my name, and no job, and no way of getting to a country where I could work legally… well, that kinda felt good.  I was right on the edge.  I knew that if I didn’t make a move, In a few weeks, I’d be homeless. That was the most adventurous I’d felt in a long time, and I really liked it.

But don’t worry folks, I got a job selling tours and trips and making bookings for backpackers, again putting on my oh-so-charming, sales slut tactics to good use – I haven’t made any money yet, but I’ll get there.

The other day I saw an ad for a room for rent in a fully furnished beachside house right in town.  If I shared the room with Lou, the price was only a bit more than we were paying at the Factory, so we decided to go for it. I moved in yesterday, and it’s awesome.  We are 7 people, sharing a luxury holiday home.  I can walk across the street to the beach and surf The Wreck or The Pass in just a 10 minute walk. Unfortunately, it’s just a short-term rental and we have to leave in 3 weeks.

Can’t wait for the next step! Life is good. ;)

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  • sheila

    holy shit justin! love this blog… ive read it twice already. keep on with the awesome writing! xoxo

  • Chelsea

    Oh, Justin! You kill me…! And worry me all at the same time…! =P Counting down the days until June! I’m practicing my wedding dance moves so that we can tear it up at Soolin’s wedding!!

  • Sarah P

    Fruity Lexia is the best, if you like hugging the toilet that is…

  • shell

    oh my…….

  • jeremiah

    keep up the good work!