After the stopover in Korumburra, I finally made my way to Foster, where I had a bed booked in the local hostel (the owner of which, incidentally, was also the owner of the local butcher’s. Cute.). When I got there, I discovered why they had been fully booked the day before. Not because they were the only hostel in town. It’s because they had one dorm room, consisting of 4 beds. Go figure.
I headed out for a little reconnoissance. Foster is a charming enough little town, with cafes, a tiny local museum, some cute shops… however, it has one huge setback. For a place that advertises itself as “The Gateway To Wilson’s Promontory”… it really should get at least one bus that would actually go there!
Pondering the problem of getting to the Prom (hitch-hike? Yay, hitch-hike!), I went to a supermarket to get some provisions. And there, just as I was hesitating between one bag of peanuts and another, I heard it.
My head whipped up. Did someone just say “sale” in Polish? Can’t be. Must be one of those hearing hallucinations that happen so often. But then I realised I was actually standing in front of a stand with products on sale. Hmmm. I looked around and, sure enough, I saw behind me a mother and a daughter discussing their groceries alternately in Polish and English.
All right, so I’m not one of those people who have to make friends with other people just because we both come from the same country. But this time it felt random enough to excuse my talking to them. We exchanged a few words and went our respective ways, which crossed again two or three times (there are only so many aisles in a supermarket).
As I was leaving the shop, the mother caught up with me.
‘Can I talk to you for a second?’
‘Sure, of course.’
‘You’re staying in the hostel here, right? Only… we have a holiday house in a town not far from here, Sandy Point, and tomorrow we’re going to the Prom too. You’re welcome to stay with us.’
Okay, world. Seriously. Were you trying to pay off some cosmic debt to me? Had I helped old ladies cross the street one time too many? Had I saved an innocent caterpillar from a cruel death? Had my policy of chucking spiders out through the window instead of crushing them anything to do with it? For the second time in two days I was being offered a place at complete strangers’ house. That’s not the kind of thing that’s supposed to happen to lonely female travellers. Where were all the thieves, murderers and lechers? Still, for the second time in two days, I said yes.
And this is how I ended up in a car with a nice Polish lady, her teenage daughter who had just got into the vegetarian phase and her little son who not only didn’t feel comfortable speaking Polish, but was also entering that awkward age when boys don’t know if strange females are the ultimate enemies or simply aliens (no offence to anyone!). I stayed with them for two days and absolutely loved it. It felt almost like my family, and the house was lovely, and in a true Polish fashion we had some marinated herring – and there were even possums around at night (but not close enough for me to take a picture…), and you had to go for a walk to a beach post for some phone reception if you wanted to call anyone: the ultimate holiday experience!
The second day we went to the Prom – the reason I set out on this trip in the first place. Really enjoyable – all of the 30 minutes that we were there… Unfortunately the weather was very changeful and after a nice morning it started pouring down almost right after we got there. Still, I did see something and it was beautiful. But what I remember best is the conversation the boy and his friend were having in the car:
‘Did you see my chest? Isn’t it awesome?’ (That’s what drew my attention – chest? What kind of chest were they talking about?)
‘Yes, but first you have to get the hammer…’
‘…And then you get the arrows and shoot him in the head…’
‘…But how do I chop his legs off?’
‘So then you kill all the monsters and you stick the knife in the warrior…’
Took me some time to understand.
The one lasting consequence of this experience was the loss of my towel, which I forgot to pack in my hurry to get out of the hostel (not surprisingly, the owner did not smile when I told her I want to check out an hour after I checked in). Now I’ve only one left – and my towel economy has suddenly become a bit tricky…