Chance Encounters: Byron Bay

After a chance encounter in Byron Bay, I’ve got a new nickname: Zen

While camping out at Byron Bay, I arrived back at the campsite one night to see a bonfire off into the distance.  Hoping there might be s’mores, I headed over and check it out, and discovered a bunch of 20ish Aussie blokes, who all leapt up and yelled “hey, its Zen!”  I rolled with the punches, and thirty seconds later was having a beer with them.

As it turns out, they were a bunch of unemployed guys out celebrating a 20th birthday – having beers over a bonfire, hitting up the bars, and generally making a lot of noise. Hanging out with these folks, I learned of the troubling existence of vaginamite (vagina + vegemite?), heard stories of boxing with kangaroos, and generally had a good time. When one of them started telling a story of having gathered magic mushrooms on a nearby mountain, and started rummaging about for a large bag, I decided to call it a night – with shrooms, its all about whether you trust the source, and these folks seemed a bit too wild.

Later that night, I ran into another bunch of folks – four Kiwis from New Zealand. They greeted me with a “hey, do you smoke (weed)?”, quickly followed by a “do you have any on you?” Upon recognizing my American accent, I was invited to sit and chat with them for a bit, while they smoked some brush weed (?) out of the dirtiest and most makeshift looking bong I have ever seen. They kindly offered me a hit, too, very hospitable.

As it turns out, these folks were working in Byron Bay, putting up banners for an upcoming Bluesfest ($600 admission!), but were now relaxing after a hard days work. They were making a lot of money too – $20/hour, twice what they would make in New Zealand. And upon learning I was hitchhiking my way to Melbourne, I was invited to join them for a round of beers. Very friendly folk, these New Zealanders – and we find each others accents hilarious!

No pictures this post – it didn’t seem appropriate.

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