Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Yeah, the Pilbara is not quite what I thought it would be. Stephen said it was more "hilly" than the Goldfields, which are as flat as it gets in my mind. He was right, there are little dolomite ridges all over the place, and I even spotted a small cliff that overlooks a grassy prairie quite similar to Danny Archers' (spelled A-R-C-H-E-R bru!) final resting place in Blood Diamond. When I stumbled upon this treasure I even thought about making a long-distance call on my sat phone to tell the receiving person "Betty! T.I.A.! T.I.A. Betty!!!" but I didn't know if the joke would carry. Plus, I had colleagues in my presence and I have a certain obligation to appear sane to them. Well, would you want to live in the bush with a mentaller?
Nonetheless, the landscape is odd. It seems much softer than it acutally is. The rolling grass from a distance looks lovely. But that's spinifex for you... it cuts the skin off your shins and in the summer it gets so hot that even driving your truck over it can cause it to bust into flames. I've heard that the only way to describe the heat is as follows: "The Goldfields are hot. The Pilbara is fucking hot." Quite an agreeable sentence, I suppose. I was expecting a few weeks more of cold that can make you shiver, but for the last two swings the heat has already begun picking up. It's now about 32 degrees during the day out there, and it's going to rise to about 50 degrees by December. Yeoucheeze! Ah well, it's only heat-stroke, right? As long as I buy a cornetto in the morning, what can go wrong?
I took some photos of my office to show you guys. One is a panorama that looks quite bitchin'. Except for that dark vertical smear where the photos didn't quite link. Not to worry, you get the idea. This is the Pilbara, mid-winter. It's really really lovely. Enjoy!
P.S. - Muchos gracias por me hombre Simon, qui (okay as it turns out my Spanish is sparse at best, and I don't know the word for brother so... and... ) yeah for the new nickname.
P.P.S. - I've started writing my novel again. Can you believe it's been seven years? I thought I'd be rusty and it turns out I am. Nonetheless I've the first two chapters written, and better still, the entire plot is summarised!! Oh I'll be rich I tell ya!!
Thursday, July 29, 2010
About mid-week on my breaks I usually emerge from the hedonistic glee of not having to do anything or be anywhere, with a hunger for proper food. It's all very crazy. My body-clock is programmed to snap awake at the first hint of daylight, and I usually lie wrapped in my white bedsheets (very David) and allow my eyes to focus on the empty pizza cartons and beer cans strewn about the loft. Don't get me wrong, I don't live like a pig, but after eating Dry Mess food for a week you tend to come home craving what I call "City food".
After a hot shower I get dressed and check my phone for messages. Then the resolve builds in me to clean my place up. I start with cardboard rubbish, and then I enter a full-on spring-clean mindset, clearing out old bills, faded receipts and the like. It takes about twenty minutes each week. I love my place - it's so low maintenance. Or maybe I'm just a guy. Either way I can get the job done in no time. Then I sit down with a cup of tea and set about the week's chores - bills to be paid, work emails to return, and the odd visa form to complete. Seriously, since I've been here I don't think I've had a single week where there isn't some work-related medical to attend, some police clearance form to post off, some kind of mine-site course to attend. Actual breaks are hard to come by. I suppose it's my fault though - I chose to start this new job with this new company. Today I had to gather various forms because I'm changing over my visa from one kind to another. It's all very grown-up really, it makes my head hurt.
So, off I set from the port-city of Fremantle (my home away from home) to Perth (a bit nyegh) to shake hands and talk shop with the HR crowd regarding my contract. I took a picture of the train station canopy on Wellington Street for you all to see! It's one of the oldest standing structures in Perth. Everything else nearby got knocked down so they could build more furniture shops. And that's very Perth - lots and lots of furniture shops, car shops, office supply stores, and I kid you not, a store that sells nothing but metal chests, in Victoria Park.
Don't get me wrong, I like this place. It's laid-back and sunny and in Perth the idea is you just don't do much. I actually like it. But here's the thing about this place- I went to the 7/11 store around the corner the other night to get some milk. It was 6.30 pm. They were closed. The shop is called the "7/11". And that's Perthy, very simply.
Or, perhaps it's just not Europe, which is fine.
Today, I also did some hand-washing. Which is a good thing because whenever I come into contact with a washing machine, clothes seem to get shrunk. And I have a grey jersey cardigan that I really like and don't want to shrink. So it was up with the sleeves and out with the elbow grease today! I felt very cool actually. It's kind of.... broadly speaking it was one of those moments where I saw a snapshot of myself being a twenty-something year old guy. It was all very boring, and perfectly fine. So I never became a rock-star. Whoopsy-daisies n' all, but doing my washing in my utility room sink is actually slightly more cool, I find. A bit less cliched, a bit more me.
Then, I bought a very cheesy album called "Songs of Ireland" for $12 dollars in a nearby second-hand record store, near where I get coffee most mornings. I must take a photo of that stretch on High Street for this blog... it's got an amazing atmosphere, between the cafe, the record store, and the bookstore. Plus that artefact store that I'm pretty sure I'm going to spend a disgraceful amount of cash in someday. But whatever, I was talking about the CD.
The CD reminded me of those nights when the gang used to sit in Carberries in a Wednesday and knock back pints of Guinness, while the old folks in the Big D used to walk in one by one with their fiddles and guitars, and we'd sit drinking till about one in the morning, then stumble home in the frosty air. That memory is one of my most golden. Carberries 4 Life!
I also remember sitting in the Ferryman, looking at the Liffey, and thinking that it was a very nice place. I remember feeling very home, and sure why wouldn't I because it feckin' was my home. And I remember thinking that I couldn't have imagined a nicer home, and that when I left this place at some stage to go off and do "career stuff" I'd miss it very much.
And I do, every day. That's the truth. I know it might sound sad, and like I'm not making the most of my situation out here, but that's not how I see it. I'm actually proud that I miss Dublin. I'm proud that I miss my family and friends because it says to me that I belong to a very good group of people. I could and probably will be doing a lot of travelling with my work before I finally get to land in Dublin Airport again. Heck, now that I think about it, it's all I've ever done. I first boarded a plane at the age of four to live somewhere else...
But jaysus lads, once I've had enough life experiences out here, it'll be nice to finally be home.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Hill 50, Mt. Magnet, March 2010. Super secret place in the Goldfields.
In my first entry I'd like to state and clarify the purpose of this blog. This is space for me fill, and for you to visit. I'll post a photo as frequently as as I can, so that you can see things that I think are groovy.
I'll tell you about work, airports, and home. I'll describe the private joy of working in one of the world's most remote places, and I'll lament (frequently) for Dublin, where my heart ultimately belongs.
I'm David, and honestly, I am probably the luckiest person I have ever met.
....... ooooooh that was so dramatic wasn't it? Okay enough of that gay language. Where do I start? I've been living in Perth for nearly six months now and the current situation is that I'm being sponsored for four years by a company who work in the Pilbara to find them loads of ore. That's what I do, I'm officially a "Resource Development Geologist", and I drink coffee, drive big jeeps, and make scientific observations about rocks that we drill from the ground. As in, "Pink rock, pink rock, pink rock, black rock, pin... BLACK ROCK!!! BLACK ROCK!!!!!!" ... and so on. In order to have continuous production of this crap, it's necessary for people to live there on a semi-permanent basis, so every Monday I board a plane and fly to work, where I stay for 8 nights, then fly back home every other Monday for a week of R&R. I'm going to state this for everyone who's not sure: Having a week off every second week is REALLY REALLY NICE!!!!! HAH ALL YOU PEOPLE WHO LAUGH AT GEOLOGISTS FOR BEING NERDS WE R IN FAKT teh VERY COOL nd WE PWN+100 ALL UR BASE ARE BELONG TO US!!!!!!!
So where was I? Oh yeah. We make sacrifices, us geos. I mean, we don't have love lives. How could we with our rosters? I heard this last week that there is actually a dating site online called "Match my Roster.com" Can you fucking believe that??? Jesus, the things people will do for a cuddle and some sex. And there's the thing about working on a minesite that you see really really quickly:
People play the hardass, but very close to the surface you can see how everyone is really really human. Yeah, cities are far more frightening places. A typical day for me is 14 hours of work, a laundry run, some food, and beer with fuck-knows-who at the camp bar (West Mess in mining lingo) then bed by 8:30.... there's no modern distractions, and no getting mugged on the walk home from the pub.
The bad side is that I live 22,000 miles from my family and my beloved friends.
So I figure I'll do this for a few years, buy a gaff in Dunshaughlin, then order a pizza.