Monday May 16
I woke up at 6:45am to check out of the hostel in Byron Bay (YHA) to catch the Oz Experience bus to Brisbane. Our bus driver stopped off at Surfers Paradise (its name gives it the perfect description) for a short break.
We also quickly stopped at the boarder between New South Wales and Queensland, where we were able to step on either side of the provinces (/states?).
Ian and I only had the day in Brisbane, and once we were dropped off we stored our luggage at the transit center. Unsure of the area, we grabbed a coffee and a map and started to explore. We were immediately drawn to a cute little hippie music store that reminded me of a store back home called Grasshopper. Filled with Tibetan flags, incense, and instruments, we chatted it up with the fellow who worked there, Garreth. He was so passionate about the store and its instruments, and played a few beats for us on the djembe and other types of drums I’ve never even heard of. Asking him where to go for the day, he drew us a little route over a bridge and into a nice scenic park.
Ian and I adventured on with a destination in mind. We got over the bridge and started to feel some rain drops, which turned into pouring rain. We took cover in an Art Museum for about 10 minutes, and then turned around and decided the park wasn’t the best idea (as it looked like it was going to pour again). We were getting hungry, and I was drawn to a Salad Sensations Café. I placed my order with the sweetest, most cheerful lad. He instantly made my day as he was a genuinely friendly person.
Grinning as I ate my delicious salad filled with mixed greens, corn, mushrooms, hard-boiled eggs, cheese, cucumber, mushrooms, and a Thai sauce, I noticed the friendly lad who served me was sipping coffee right behind me! He had just finished work and we started up a conversation with each other. I soon figured out his named was Roger. Roger was a former schoolteacher, 35, just finished work at the café, and from New Zealand. Eventually Ian and I found ourselves sitting at his table with his fellow employees: a man from Turkey (just learning English) and a woman from Germany.
After talking for an hour or two, Ian and I explained to Roger how we were somewhat homeless for the next couple hours, as we were catching a flight to Cairns in the evening. He offered to take us back to the park where we originally wanted to go, as he was on his way to the movies in that direction anyway. Roger was a sweetheart; I got good vibes from him, and we instantly connected.
We walked back over the bridge and just as we were entering the park we spotted some Ferries that acted as taxi’s zig-zagging across the river. Roger got just as, if not more excited then I did, and explained how this is would be a great way to see the beauty of the city in the few hours we had left. The weather had cleared up, and Roger said he’d even jump on the ferry with us. So the three of us hopped on for about an hour and sailed along the river as the sun was about to set. Roger was so very intelligent, and he would point out anything exciting he felt we should know about Brisbane. We all got to all know each other very well, talking about our travels, love lives, favourite movies and books.
A “stop and think” moment occurred today. As the three of us were looking out at the city on the ferry and the sun shined through the clouds, Roger sang in the background. I couldn’t help but smile… everything was just so beautiful. Roger totally went out of his way today to take Ian and I under his wing. Roger was a breath of fresh air. It is so refreshing to meet strangers who come out of nowhere and are so kind. Before we knew it, it was almost 5pm and Ian and I needed to start heading back to the transit center. After flipping a coin of whether or not we should exchange Facebook names with Roger (heads = exchange names, tails = leave it as it is and just remember the moments we shared together), the coin landed on heads, and we exchanged names.
Roger impacted me so much today. Looking back, I had realized some very important factors of my day. I realized that if Ian and I had not stopped in the music/hippe store, we would have never been told to go to the park by Garreth. If it had not rained, then Ian and I would have never turned around to grab food and shelter. In doing so, I wouldn’t have stopped at Salad Sensations and met Roger. Ian and I were somewhat lost at the beginning of the day today, but once we met Roger, we felt found.