Arriving on Kangaroo Island

5am came really early. Matthew and I packed our bags and got dressed in the dark since our roommate was sleeping on the bed next to our suitcases. We walked downstairs and put our key in the same box we had retrieved it from on our arrival. The bus picked us up and when I put my suitcase in front of the bus driver he made a comment about how light I was traveling. Matthew put his own suitcase in the bus.


I took a quarter Dramamine before the bus ride and another quarter afterwards. When I got off the bus I was delighted to see a big beautiful boat that was the ferry we would be taking to Kangaroo Island. Matthew and I had chatted lots about how ready we were to be on the island and to be settled for a while. All of the excitement was getting to me and I walked to the end of the pier to take pictures of the boat before loading up with the others.  Out on the pier I stood still for a few minutes, taking in the smell of the ocean and the vastness of it all.  This boat would take us to an island where we would stay for quite some time.  This was the beginning of a new journey for us.


After reflecting, I saw Matthew waiting for me to load the boat.  I walked back up the pier and made my way up the ramp that led to the boat.  On the boat I visited the top, the outside and everywhere in between. I took lots of pictures.  It felt like we were on our own smaller version of the titanic.  The deck outside was full of people with their pet dogs.  I enjoyed seeing this because I thought it was unexpected.  

The top inside portion of the boat was where we had camped.  It was a wide open space with picnic tables scattered about.  The windows were huge so the view was amazing.  I couldn't wait to set sail and watch the land move farther away from the ship.

When I sat down to text my mother my whereabouts, I noticed a girl who had been on the wine tour with us the day before. While I had been knocked-out from Dramamine, Matthew had chatted with the girl and established that we had the same ferry ride the next day. Now she was in front of us and I invited her to sit down with us. The three of us laughed and chatted for a few minutes before the boat started to unhitch from the side of the bay. I was excitedly looking around at all of the neat things going on.  This was going to be a good trip.  I had never rode on a ferry before.


Just before take-off I noticed a pocket on the wall with tons of barf bags. I pointed at them and Matthew gave me a high-five. Then our new friend said she too got motion sickness. I offered her a Dramamine but she said she would just tough it because she didn't want to miss the whole first day of her Kangaroo Island tour.  We also discussed the fact that the boat was big enough that the waves probably wouldn't be bad at all.  Motion sickness only happens with a lot of movement.  


The second the boat left shore I felt awful. Both my face and our friend's face must have shown it because Matthew laughed and said he could tell it hit both of us at the same time. My friend was staring at the wall in front of us and I was staring at the bottom of a pole that connected to the ceiling. I was gripping the chair underneath me and my friend was gripping the table in front of us.  Both of us were as still as stone. I told myself the first few minutes would be bad and then I would get used to it, like an airplane's take off. A few minutes went by.  Neither my friend nor I had moved.


Some Asian guy walked by and tapped me on the shoulder. Though I hated to look up, I finally turned with my hands around the sides of my face so I couldn't see the windows around me and I looked him in the eye.


“If you seasick you look out window. It help I promise.”


“Oh, thanks but that trick doesn't work with me.” I had read that in a magazine when I was 12 and periodically I would try it in the car when I was woozy but I had never had any luck with it.


“No. It work. Please try. Look!” He was pointed out the window like I was going to miss my cure if I didn't do it immediately. I thanked him and said I would try it.


As soon as he walked off I continued looking at the floor. The feet walking around the pole were stumbling and swerving and I wondered how anyone was able to ride on this boat without getting sick. My stomach felt like a lava lamp. I could feel the blood draining from my face and my eyes were getting watery.  


Around that time my friend said she was going to try going downstairs and see if it was any better. When she didn't come back I took that as a sign that it was better down below. Matthew was chatting with a man about something business related and important and I wanted to join in but I was too afraid I would throw up everywhere if I stopped staring at the pole. I told them I was going downstairs and they offered to help me. I said I was fine.


A few minutes passed as I waited for a steady moment to make my voyage. When I found no steady moment I bravely stood to my feet. I was shaking all over. I felt weak and very dizzy. With my purse in my fist I braced the wall as I slowly walked down the stairs and to the first empty seat I could find. I looked out the window, it was definitely better downstairs but the feeling was still strong. I leaned forward and put my head in between my knees. The floor was once again my best friend. I finally decided to focus on something else: my phone. The next 30 minutes were spent texting multiple people. I asked everyone back home about everything I could think of. I distracted my mind and kept my barf bag in my lap.


I couldn't' believe that a half a Dramamine was not even phasing my system. I couldn't imagine being on the boat without any pills in me.  Finally, after forty-five minutes of this, I felt the boat rock wildly and then settle into shore. I sat looking down at my phone in between my legs for several minutes before finally looking up.  I wanted to make sure my stomach was good and settled before I tried to do any more moving.  

There was a long line of people headed towards the door so I finished up a few conversations before finally standing to my feet, still weak and shaky. I looked for Matthew and found him towards the back of the line opposite me, holding both my backpack and his. Thank God he hadn't left my backpack. I completely forgot about it when I had came downstairs.


Off the ship I wished I could throw up so the feeling would go away. I was nauseous and puny. While waiting for the luggage truck I took another quarter of a Dramamine. We had another hour in a bus and I was really not feeling it. I now had ¾ of a pill in me. When I took a full one I slept for eight hours solid. Hopefully ¾ wouldn't put me to bed too long.


The bus was a 15-seater, though there were only four of us on it. The driver's name was Steve and he was as friendly as they come. Matthew sat right up next to Steve and I listened as they talked about all the quirks and tricks of living on Kangaroo Island. I learned a lot and I enjoyed listening though I didn't feel like talking at all.


At some point during the beginning of our ride I felt my head drop and I fell into a deep sleep. When I woke up Matthew was shaking the bus driver's hand and I was told to grab my suitcase. In and out I went, trying to realize where we were. I figured it must be Kingscote because that was the destination.

Slowly I rolled my suitcase into a hotel that Matthew had pointed at. I stared at a map on the wall for a long time and when I turned around our suitcases were gone and Matthew was at a table sitting down with a glass of water. I joined him and poured myself a glass of water, slowly, so it wouldn't spill. When I started to read the menu I made it through half of a sandwich description before I jolted my head back up. I had fallen asleep briefly. This happened several times before I put the menu down and stared out the window.


“We're here!” I said, trying to sound excited though the drugs made me sound less than enthused. Matthew laughed at my state of mind and then I began talking a lot to wake myself up. I asked about the bus driver and the food and everything else I could think of.


We both had fish and chips. Afterwards I felt a little queasy. We walked around Kingscote which took only about half an hour. We went in the art gallery, which only had one painting I liked. The rest was not really my style.


Then we went in the general store. The general store was my favorite for one reason: art supplies. To my amazement they had a whole section of art supplies. Colored pencils, paint brushes, canvases, acrylics, oils, pastels, palette knives and gesso. I was going to be okay. We had art supplies within reach.


There were only about four streets around the downtown so we decided to walk down each of them. The one with the least traffic was where I found another treasure: a used bookstore with yoga classes, crystals, gems and from what I could see through the window—really cute clothing. Unfortunately it was closed but I knew I would make a point to come back to that one.


The other dead street was truly dead. We didn't see anything except a closed bakery. It was the same bakery Dad had told me about.  He had read the description online while I was on the phone with him a few days earlier.  

After a few minutes, we decided to declare Kingscote conquered so we went back to the Ozone Hotel and found a vacant conference room with outlets, a leather couch and 2 leather chairs. Matthew laid down on the couch and jabbered on for a while before dozing off. I sat and worked on my writing until Yollana called at 3 and said she needed us to pick up some things from the store for her and that she would be there around 4:00pm. I told her that was fine and she said she'd text me the list of supplies.


The list Yollana sent me was as follows:

-5x cucumbers

-7x black and gold insect killer spray can

-7x packets blue toilet rinse

-3x 500ml black and gold thickened cream (longest expiry date preferred)

-Mouse traps. Do they have the sticky tape? If so, 5x of these.


She also added at the end of her text that she wouldn't be there until around 4:15pm. I decided that meant I could write for another 15 minutes. So at 4pm Matthew and I walked over to the grocery store and began our shopping. I grabbed a basket and we both started down the first aisle. It was the cleaning aisle. I read the list out-loud while Matthew looked for the items we needed.

Right away we found the insect killer spray. We put seven cans in our basket and then searched for blue toilet rinse. The mousetrap section was quite large but we found no sticky tape. After a few minutes of browsing Matthew decided we could use a plastic trap that didn't involve touching the rodents.


Around the corner I grabbed five cucumbers and three cans of thickened cream, which I had never heard of, and we met back up in aisle two. It was 4:10. We were standing in front of the chocolates trying not to be in anyone's way while we waited.


“Any minute now.” I said as we both looked towards the door.


“What if she looks nothing like she did on Skype.”


I laughed. “What if she is actually a large black woman!”


“What if she is really really short.” Matthew and I were both laughing at our silliness.


“Look! What if that's her!” I pointed to a lady walking in with slick hair and big bones.


“What if that's her!” Matthew pointed to the man behind the big boned lady.


On and on we went until we realized it was 4:30. We then started wondering if she might have forgotten about us.


“..or what if this whole thing was a set up and there is no job, she just lured us across the world so she could get us here for a big joke.”


“yeah, like a super horrible episode of Punk'd!” I chimed in.


We then decided we would be screwed if our suitcases didn't fit in her car and we had to leave behind a bag or two. So that led into us looking out at the cars in the parking lot.


An expensive black car pulled up.


“What if that's the car!” I yelled and pointed.


“No, I think that's the car.” Matthew was pointing in the opposite direction at a bronze SUV.


“Oh, I hope it's not that car.” I pointed to an old jeep that looked like it was about to fall apart.


“Look. There she is.” Matthew lowered his voice and looked back towards the chocolates. I turned and saw a very skinny woman with pulled back hair. She was looking around like she was trying to locate people. I looked at the floor so as not to stare too hard and then when she was within hearing distance I stepped forward and we locked eyes at the same time.


“Hi! Are you Yollana?” We shook hands and then she and Matthew shook hands.


“It's nice to finally meet you two.” She was already peering into our basket.


“We got everything except the mouse traps aren't sticky tape and we wanted to ask you about those.” Matthew said. Yollana held up one of the plastic mouse traps and asked how much they were.


“Seven fifty.” Matthew said as he glanced to the ceiling for confirmation.


“Yeah, let's just put two of these back.” She handed two plastic traps to Matthew and started walking on down the aisle. Matthew looked at me and mouthed “What is she wearing?” before grinning and walking off towards aisle one.


I looked towards Yollana and noticed her attire. She was wearing a thin tank top and obviously did not wear a bra. She was small enough, though that it suited her. She also wore denim jeans and a fanny-pack type of belt with lots of individual pockets in it. I knew Matthew was referring to the fanny-pack thing when he mouthed the question to me. I too thought it was a bit odd, thought I figured she probably had a good reason for wearing one.  Fanny-packs were a target for jokes back home.  I thought about the fanny-pack song one of my classmates used to sing on the drag at night in high school.


I watched as Yollana dissapeared around the corner, headed for another aisle. I quickly grabbed the basket and decided I should probably follow close behind. I don't know what I had expected for a first meeting but I thought it would be a bit more formal than grocery shopping. I had even wore my nice shirt and shoes for this. Of course, now I was feeling silly for dressing up because Yollana was in jeans and a tank top. I hope she didn't think I was going to be high-maintenance or fussy. I only wanted to put my best foot forward and I had always been taught that your outward appearance is huge on making first impressions. “Dress for success”, my mom would say.


Around the corner I pulled the basket up just in time for Yollana to dump in five loaves of bread. Matthew walked up next to me and asked Yollana if he needed to get anything else for her.


“No, I think I just need a few heads of lettuce and then we should be good.”


Yollana darted over to the lettuce before Matthew and I could even register her sentence. It reminded me of the week before when we had grocery shopped with Edward and he had ran around the store in the same fashion. I wondered if this was another cultural difference. Were American's slow grocery shoppers? Maybe Matthew and I were just slow. Actually, I don't remember ever seeing anyone back home rush around a grocery store, so maybe it was an American thing.


Yollana placed the lettuce in our cart and then quickly walked towards the check out. She turned back to us while we walked and explained that she needed to pick up some cigarettes for one of the volunteers. We watched as she went in a different check out line and asked a lady behind the counter for cigarettes. Matthew and I unloaded the contents of the basket on to the conveyer belt while she did this.


“I still think it's weird that their cigarettes have to be behind closed doors.” I said as I looked from the cart to the cigarette cabinet that the lady was now reaching into.


“Yeah, I do too, but I guess it's good for like little kids and stuff not to see it.” Matthew said as he placed one of the mouse traps up on the belt. Just as I placed the last can of bug spray on the conveyer belt, Yollana arrived with the box of cigarettes and placed them on the belt before pulling out a credit card. Matthew was piling up the scanned items in a box so I walked around Yollana and helped put a few items in the box as well. There was one bag of stuff that wouldn't fit in the box. I picked it up and carried it with me to the car. Yollana and Matthew followed me until I got to the parking lot and realized I didn't know what car to look for.


“Ah, it's just this one here.” Yollana pointed her head towards an old green car with lots of dents and scratches on it. She had warned us that the company car was pretty beat, but I still had to laugh a little when I saw it. The driver's rear-view mirror was completely missing and the whole thing was dirty and a bit frail. Matthew opened the trunk and placed the groceries in it while explaining that our luggage was still at the Ozone Hotel.


When we got to the hotel Matthew and I hauled our heavy luggage down the stairs of the hotel and into the back of the car. It wasn't a huge car, but Matthew swore we could make it work. He put our two big suitcases in the trunk and then piled our backpacks in next to them. The trunk was full and covering half of the rear window. He then put his duffle bag in the back seat and the groceries sat in the middle seat next to me. I wedged myself in between the door and the groceries and positioned myself to a comfortable position. I was directly behind Yollana and Matthew, of course, was riding shotgun.


When we hit the highway the car sounded like it was going to explode. I could hear some conversation taking place up front but I was only getting pieces of it. I heard Yollana say something about a volunteer that was mostly trustworthy but a little bit rough around the edges. Her name was Kim. I also heard Yollana say something about buying a new car soon.


Yollana slowed on the gas and I leaned forward listening close to whatever she was about to say.


“I wanted to let you know that I didn't tell the other volunteers that you guys are here for the management position. They think you're one of them, so just play along for now, alright?”


Matthew and I agreed and shook our heads. Yollana pushed the gas in and the car rumbled really loud again. I decided to look out the window since I couldn't hear much. Soon my arms began to burn and I grabbed the sunscreen from my purse. When Matthew turned around and saw what I was doing he laughed.


“Is everything okay?” Yollana asked in a concerned manner.


“Yeah, I'm fine. He's just laughing at me for putting on sunscreen.”


Yollana didn't reply but Matthew laughed one last time before I gave him a look that told him to stop being mean. About fifteen minutes later we turned off the highway and onto a dirt road that had a sign reading “Seal Bay Cottages and Cafe.” We took the road a few hundred feet and then it opened up to a parking lot for the cafe.


“Here's the cafe where we serve lunches and dinners.” Yollana pointed and I looked out the window to see a beautiful wooden building with big glass windows. I only saw a glimpse before my view was covered with trees. When I turned to look out the front window I saw another dirt parking lot but this one had a whole bunch of laundry surrounding it. It looked to me like a place I would imagine my grandparents growing up in. There was a tin shack to the right and big tin barn with no front siding. Yollana killed the car and I asked if this was it.


“This is it.” she said. I looked to my left and saw two girls sitting on a wooden picnic table. One of them was smoking and the other one was looking at her phone. Neither one of them seemed too excited to see the car pull up. I didn't care. I was excited to see the place that would be my home for the next seven months.


Matthew and I walked around to the trunk of the car to get our things but Yollana said we could do that later. She walked towards the picnic table where the girls were and Matthew and I followed. The girl with the red hair and cigarette looked up finally.


“Did you get my cigarettes?” her eyes were wide and she was looking at Yollana with a defiant look.


“Yes, but before we discuss that, I'd like to introduce you to Haley and Matt.”


The red haired girl looked at me and then at Matthew. She stuck out her hand and said, “Kim.” Matthew shook her hand and then she extended it to me, “Hi, I'm Haley.” I then looked at the other girl who had just shook hands with Matthew and asked her to repeat her name. “Alex.”


“Hi, Alex, I'm Haley.” Alex smiled sweetly and I decided she was the quieter of the two.


“Johann is in the kitchen, we'll just go meet him next.” Yollana looked at Matthew and I as if to ask for our agreement.


“My cigarettes?” Kim was still looking at Yollana.


“Ah, yes.” Yollana pulled a small box from the car and tossed them to Kim before leading Matthew and I towards the tin barn. The kitchen was just to the right of the tin barn. It was a building with plaster over it and it had a heavy metal door that was propped open. Inside there was a screen door that led inside the kitchen. There stood a man about our age with an apron on. He was washing dishes when he turned to see us enter the kitchen.


“This is Haley and Matt.” Yollana introduced us and the man replied that he was Johann. I could tell his English wasn't great by the sound of his accent. We smiled and Yollana turned left and showed us the other side of the kitchen. There was a counter with bread and bread knives scattered about and to the right of that was a big tall coffee machine and to the right of that there was a lot of bottles and pumps that Yollana said made milkshakes.


We followed Yollana through another doorway that led into a room with a huge menu on the wall and a cash register to the left of it. She said this was where people placed their orders and checked into the cabins. It was a small room. Opposite the menu stood two coolers. One was a deep freeze with ice cream in it and the other was a tall glass refrigerator with lots of drink options inside.


We walked past the ice cream cooler and out another screen door that took us outside. On the front of porch there were two tables; one to the left of the door and one to the right of the door. We followed a sidewalk out to the wooden building with the large glass windows that I had seen when we pulled up. Yollana said this was the cafe where people would eat their meals. Matthew and I nodded and said we were impressed. The floor was made out of a maroon colored stone and the walls were solid wood, like the inside of a fancy barn. There was a wooden bar at the back of the wall and my heart skipped a beat when I saw it. It was a beautiful bar and I couldn't wait to get behind it and entertain customers. In front of the bar there were five simple barstools and scattered around the rest of the cafe were wooden tables and benches with salt and pepper shakers and sprigs of some kind of fresh plant in the center.


Yollana led us to a sliding door off to the left that I hadn't yet noticed. It lead to what she called “The Barn.”


“This is where we do big groups, like tour busses and that sort of thing. We don't use it unless we have to.” Yollana held open the door while Matthew and I looked around. The barn was similar to the cafe but three times the size. It had a tall ceiling with beams running across it. I noticed the beams were wrapped in twinkle lights and I thought the place would be beautiful at night. In the center of the barn there was a small furnace for fires. Yollana had previously told us that winter time campfires were a favorite at Seal Bay.


I told Yollana I thought the place was beautiful. Matthew agreed and so we were led out another sliding door that opened up to the sidewalk that went to the front door of the building with the menu and the kitchen.


Inside the kitchen Johann was working on a coffee for a customer.


“Now, do you both know how to run this?” Yollana pointed at the massive coffee machine and my eyes got big.


“No, I don't have any idea.” I looked at Matthew and he was shaking his head too.


“Alright then, let's just run through it real quick.” I watched as she grabbed a metal contraption. “Actually, let's get everyone in here and just go through it together...sort of like official training for the coffee machine, yeah?” she looked at the three of us for an answer. Johann shrugged and Matthew and I said, that sounded great.


Yollana disappeared to go get Alex and Kim.


“So man, where are you from?” Matthew asked Johann.


“I am from France.” Johann answered with a thick accent. I knew I was going to have a bit of trouble understanding him.


“Right on. How long are you here for?”


“I leave in two days”


“Ah, so that's pretty quick.”


“I'm soree?”


“Quick. Not long.”


Johann nodded his head and thankfully the two girls and Yollana walked in the room. When we were all gathered around the machine, Yollana began instructing us on how to make coffee. First we had to turn on this small machine and it turned the beans into powder. The powder was then sifted into the metal contraption I saw Yollana holding earlier. This contraption got placed under a metal circle thing and with the click of a button you had coffee. Yollana explained that the round metal object was heating up the grinds and pushing water through the spout. The coffee that landed in the mug was called “espresso.”


I inched closer to see what the “espresso” looked like. She then poured milk into a small metal pitcher and put it up to a probe that stuck out of the machine. She turned a knob and told us to listen for a gurgling sound. I inched closer again and I saw the milk bubbling around inside the pitcher. She explained that the machine was steaming the milk. I wondered why we needed milk in the espresso but I kept my mouth shut and figured I'd find out soon enough.


Next, Yollana poured the milk over the espresso slowly, using a spoon to hold back some of the other milk. She explained that the milk on top was foam and that it needed to go in the cup last. When she had filled the cup she said she had made a latte. I asked what a latte was and she said it was espresso and milk. She then handed me a spoon and told me to try it. I knew I didn't like lattes or anything coffee flavored but I did as I was told. I dipped my spoon in the drink and pulled out the smallest sample I could. I lifted it to my lips and involuntarily made a horrified face. Everyone laughed and Matthew explained that I didn't like coffee. I held my mouth shut as tight as I could, afraid that I would accidentally gag or spit.


Yollana passed the cup around and everyone else seemed very pleased with the taste, except Kim. Kim said she felt my pain. She didn't like coffee either and she too made an awful face when she tried it.


Yollana made several other concaucsions before I finally started to see the pattern. Every cup started with a shot of espresso and pretty much everything but a Long Black ended with steamed milk and milk foam. Yollana showed me a graph on the wall that had the recipes for every type of coffee I would be making. I felt fairly confident that I could do it with a cheat sheet.


After coffee lessons Matthew and I unloaded our suitcases while Yollana finished making dinner. Yollana and the girls had made chicken noodle soup and I was starved. I was surprised and happy to see how supper went. Yollana set the table for all of us and we all sat at one table together just like my family had raised me. I was a tad bit uncomfortable with the fact that everyone dug in without waiting for one another and that there was also no pre-dinner prayer, but it was my first night and I didn't want to make a fuss.


After everyone had started eating, Yollana asked us to say our highlights. Kim leaned over and told me that highlights were what they did each night at dinner. You were supposed to say what your favorite part of the day was. I listened as Yollana said her highlight was picking up Matthew and I from Kingscotte . Alex's highlight was having the day off and Johann's highlight was tasting the coffee. Kim said her highlight was meeting Matthew and I.  She said we fit in perfectly and she could tell we were all going to have fun together. My highlight was not getting sick on the ferry, or the bus, or the other bus. Matthew's highlight was finally arriving on the island.


After dinner everyone pitched in to help with the dishes and shortly after I made my way to our new bedroom. I was exhausted and ready for sleep. Matthew and I shared bedroom number two which had two sets of bunk beds in it. We both called bottom and laughed because there were two bottom bunks so we both got what we wanted. I put my suitcase in the closet and felt relief rush over me as I half-way organized my things. This was where my things would live for the next few months. No more shuffling in and out of the suitcase.  I could relax a little--you know, hang my hat up for a while.  Tomorrow morning we would start our first day of work at the Cafe.