Wednesday, November 08, 2006


I met Joanne in the hostel on my second day in Australia when, as I mentioned, I was suffering from an acute case of food poisoning.
As you know, hostels provide affordable accommodation without troubling their guests with anything resembling privacy. So if you are ill, tired or just wish to be alone you are relying on the sensitivity of the strangers with whom you share a dormitory.

Sadly, it was not to be. Throughout the day at hourly intervals a less than completely sensitive German woman with the bunk over mine erupted into the otherwise empty room to enquire about Joe; Had I seen Joe, can you let Joe know where I am, and so forth. It wasn’t just that she asked questions, but booming voice was like a bomb detonating. I wasn’t very well disposed to the intrusive German and was becoming annoyed with the missing Joe. If he would just turn up, then maybe I’d could suffer in peace.

Joe never appeared. Instead late in the afternoon the explosive Germen thundered in with ‘Jo’ in train. Joe it appeared was in fact Joanne, a pretty backpacker with a curious Celtic accent. At first, I couldn’t place any shibboleths. I had had little to work with as her German friend as doing most of the talking. But Jo politely corrected my Scottish guess, telling me she was Welsh.

Jo and the German made an odd fellowship. They didn’t strike me as being at all suited to one another. Jo was pleasant, thoughtful and accommodating. Not qualities I’d ascribe to the German. But then backpacking around the world often amounts to a series of temporary alliances and friendships of convenience. They were both single, female, travelling alone in Sydney and sleeping in the same dormitory.
In the days that followed I began spending some time with the pair. The three of us went to Julius Caesar in the Opera House. Jo came with me to my new flatmate’s birthday party, we attended museums and toured the Blue Mountains.

Sadly it was all to come to and end the following week when Jo resumed her travels around South Eastern Australia. The good news is that she’ll be in Sydney again for a week or so before heading to New Zealand for 6 months work. After that she’ll disappear to darkest South America on her way home to the wrong South Wales.

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