15 miserable hours later and we landed in Australia. Modern air travel still amazes me after all this time. In the time it look us to get from Santiago to Sydney we would still be rotting with 8 hours left on our bus ride from the northern border of Chile to Santiago.
Upon arrival, we stumbled through immigration and through quarantine in a zombie-like state. We slowly approached the exit and walked out into the airport terminal as if in a dream. From the corner of my eye, I spotted someone approaching, but in my sleepy, confused state I didn't even recognize that Becky had made the trip down the airport to greet us! Such a great surprise!
Because we were both going different ways, we thought it was best to grab a seat and catch up a bit over a beverage. After some wandering around the arrival hall we found ourselves back where we started, but luckily we were careless the first go-round and there was a cafe/bar right where we had come out.
We grabbed a cider a piece and caught up on all the latest gossip, the last part of our trip, and finally, because I couldn't wait any longer, I popped the question... and asked Becky if she would be willing to be my maid of honor, to which she thankfully obliged.
With more to discuss then time on hand, we all grabbed a cab and headed into town, dropping Becky in Woolloomooloo for a dinner and us continuing on to the Becket residence in Bondi Beach. Rachel and Billy had kindly offered to put us up for the night. On arrival, we were greeted with familiar, smiling facing and the amazing aroma of dinner in the oven. On the menu was rosemary lamb, a lush green salad, and a totally awesome pineapple dessert involving cream and fire. It was brilliant! And such a great time catching up with two incredible people.
Around 8:30pm or so, as if on cue, Billy's phone rings and one Becky Reining is on the other end needling us to join her and friends in Darlinghurst. At this point I hadn't slept in about 24 hours, so what's another 5? Matty Whyte had agreed to come swoop us and we would head together for a Tuesday night out at the pubs, of course makes sense!
We arrived at the very crowded Shady Pines Saloon and made our way to the back where Becky, Sharon, and Monique were deep in conversation. We abruptly made our presence known and it was hugs all around!! The bar was almost too packed and too loud for a proper catch up, so we agreed on one drink and then to move on. There was no doubt in my mind what I was getting. I had been craving a fresh squeezed apple juice and vodka since the last time I stepped foot out of that place, and so it was high time I squashed this long-lived craving.
After we were finished, we made it over to the classy establishment known as the Gaslight. We chatted, laughed, drank, sang, played pool, and had a merry ole time. It was about 1:30 am when our logic and sense of responsibility kicked in and we decided it was time to pack it in for the night. We hugged goodbye with promises to see each other everyday until we were forced to fly our separate ways.
In the morning, after a quality sleep-in, it was out the door with running shoes on for our routine Bondi Beach jog, followed by coffees and breakfast at Gusto. It felt incredible to be back in Sydney especially when you don't have to work and you can just ease into the day with some exercise and fresh air along the beach.
We hurried back to Billy's showered and got ready. We would be heading into the city to meet Becky for lunch, then off to Manly to catch up with Roach and Melissa and their new daughter Delilah. We met up at our old stomping grounds, the Manly Wharf Bar and talked nonstop for 2-3 hours over several glasses of wine.
At 5:30, it was time for me to shove off. Adrian was staying for an evening in Manly with the Amaviscas, but I had to meet back up with Becky in the city and then rendezvous with Rupal for dinner that night. Beforehand though we made a quick stop at ole Maloney's Pub to catch up with some of the old CBSi work crew. All seemed well and good in the 1.5 years of my absence. New weddings, engagements, promotions, and babies; all continues to be fine in Sydney!
We were a little late, as usual, but we met the beautiful Rupal at a trendy, vegetarian spot in Surry Hills. We had the most incredible meal, with delicious beer to wash it down, as we caught up on my travels, Rupal's adventures in motherhood and her and Becky's impressive careers. We fell into conversation like not a day had past. That's what true friendship is all about, and I was simply basking in it.
After we had wrapped up with dessert and a sweet wine, we said goodbye to Rupal and began to make our way back to our digs for the night. Becky and I would be sharing a romantic evening for two at a boutique hotel in Surry Hills. It quickly became clear to us, however, that no Surry Hills evening is complete without a stop at The Cricketer's Arms. Stepping into this place again brought back so many awesome memories of our early days in Sydney, playing kickball at Moore Park and walking over to this old dive to eat, drink, and be merry on Thursday nights. Ahh, the good ole days. We had a beer a piece and decided to call it a night. We got back to the hotel late and checked into our cozy room. We stayed up late talking about this and that until Becky fell asleep mid-sentence and I shortly followed.
In the morning, after requesting a late checkout. Becky was off to work, and Adrian was heading back to the city to meet me for our Sydney day about town. After he arrived around 11, we headed across town to Pyrmont to meet up with an old colleague and friend Stewart, who also has become a dad in our absence, Becky, and a surprise visit by the one and only Ali Sutho!
We had lunch of salad and pizza and beers for some, cokes for others, until it was time for the working stiffs to head back to their respective offices. For Adrian and I, there wasn't much left on the agenda for the day aside from a long walk back to Tamarama, where we would be crashing at the abode of the overwhelmingly gracious Chris and Ali.
Back at the house, we were completely zapped. We only ventured out again for a dinner of thai soup. By 8:00pm I could no longer keep my eyes open and so, even before Chris and Ali were back home, I was fast asleep for what would end up being about 12 hours of solid zzzzz's. Incredible, and extremely necessary.
We were back at 100% (or at least close by the following morning). As is habit, we got a bit of exercise in. After a shower, we walked down to Bondi to pick up supplies from Billy's house where we had kept our belongings from the previous night. We hurried back to Ali's, threw in some laundry and headed all the way back down to the North Bondi RSL to meet up with Adrian's old work mate Dave Stewart.
After a quick pint, we hopped in the car headed over to his place. Kate and little Danica (his wife and daughter) were back at home. We had a fantastic time catching up on similar travel stories (as they had done South America a few years back) until around 6:00pm. We had a skype date that we couldn't miss over at Rupal and Josh's place. On the docket, Jess, Jason, Jodie, Kai, Lizzy from their respective homes around the planet, and over at Rupal's - Rupal, Josh, Becky, Vanessa, Maura, Matt, Jenn, Adrian and I - it was a skype date for the record books. Unfortunately, due to the time difference Jodie and Kai couldn't make it, but it was incredible to catch up with some an amazing group of people.
By 10:00 or so it was time to call it a night. We thanked Josh and Rups for organizing and for their incredible hospitality, and for getting the unforgettable chance to meet Mr. Taal Ismin! What a cutie... and we said good night.
It was now Friday morning, the day of reckoning. Lovedale Cup IV was upon us. Today of all days, it was vital to get in one last training in order to bring maximum pain unto teams Gold, Silver, and White. Unfortunately the weather was not cooperating today and were forced to do a Nike Training Club workout inside. We had a champion's breakfast of yogurt, coffee, and granola and hopped a quick shower before Mr. Matty Whyte was over to pick us up. We had a number of errands to run prior to getting up to the cabins, namely picking up trophies and last minute items, and grocery shopping for the weekend. By 5:00 on the dot, we were at Lovedale Cabins with beer in hand getting ready for the weekend and awaiting the first bunch of Lovedale Cuppers to arrive.
Very slowly people began arriving. Finally by 11:00pm or so everyone was there, drinks were flowing and after the beautifully recited poem by Mr. Whyte Lovedale Cup 2012 was well and truly underway. The teams were announced one by one and the first event was ready to roll Huckle Buckle.
For those of you not familiar with this game it involves standing face to fact with a member of your team. The game's coordinator (in our case Matt Whyte) calls out two body parts, for example, Hand to Hip, at which time the two members of the team think fast and put a hand on the other member's hip as fast as possible. The last group of two to complete the task is removed from the game until there is one team left... The Victors! By the end of the 4 rounds, Black, Gold, and White had all come up victorious. With the 300 points we had won (Black Team) in the previous week's poker match won by our fearless captain, Billy, we were sitting pretty in 1st place. But of course, it is any teams Cup, and we had arguably the most important event up next.... Team Dance!
Each team broke off into separate cabins to coordinate the songs, costumes, themes, and dance choreography. I can only speculate how other teams planned, but I can say without hesitation that Team Black truly rose to the occasion, communicated and organized like a well oiled machine. After hardwork by Billy to create the best song, creativity and imaginative ideas coming from every member, and with the graceful transformation of Deke into the Black Swan, we were ready to hit the dance floor in a major way.
First up to bat, Team Gold. Now, it should be said that the Gold team came up unlucky with unfortunate technical problems with their song, but really rose to the occasion with a creative rendition of the childhood favorite, Goldy Locks, as well as a fitting ghetto dance by Lizzy Ryan to "Gold Digger". Despite their obstacles, they really put on a show.
Next up, Team Black. I don't think I need to go into any sort of bragging detail here, but safe to say the next couple of minutes after our names were called, were some of my proudest in my life. The dance was glorious. Enough said.
Next up, Team White. The dance was well choreographed and really plucked on the heart strings with the song choice of John Farnham's Classic, "You're the Voice"... tear.
Finally, to put the team dance to bed was the Silver team. Let's just say there was a whole lot of skin tight metallicness going on and a whole lot of suggestive dancing, which I don't think anyone had any complaints about it.
After several minutes of deliberation, the results were in. Black Team won by a landslide, and the crowd goes wild; actually it was just us that went wild. That said, each team brought it in a major way, and with that, the events for the first night were completed. All that was left was to party it up, and party we did, until a sensible hour was upon us and we crawled off to bed in order to be fresh little daisies in the morning! ;)
After a power breakfast of egg and bacon rolls and bloody marys it was Lovedale Cup time. The first event of the day... Kickball. The teams this year were Black and Gold vs. White and Silver. The game was a hard fought 7 innings, but in the end the White and Silver team were no match for the skillz of B&G, and with that win, the Black team crept even further to a solid position in #1.
The rest of the day's events were as follows: Egg Toss, Bocce, Mini Tennis, Closest to the Pin (Golf event), Trivia, Wine Tasting, Frickets, and finally musical chairs. For the record, it should be noted that we definitely skipped out on a few key events this year, namely - pool events, relay, bobbing for apples, and team flip cup (although we most certainly got flip cup in, just not on a team basis).
By the night's end it was decidedly so that the stellar and incredibly humble Black Team was so far ahead that there was little chance for another team take over 1st place and so the games came to an end. We completed the evening with another epic soiree which included round after round of flip cup, an energetic dance party, and tons of big laughs with great friends.
The next morning was passed by cleaning the disaster that is Lovedale Cup on a Sunday morning. By noon, it was as good as it was ever going to be, and we were ready to hit the local brew pub for lunch. The last soldiers standing at this point were Lizzy, Becky, Monique, Adrian, Matty, and I. Coincidentally, we ran into the other few stragglers Rachel, Billy, and Luke finishing up their lunch when we rolled up. We had lunch and some in our group enjoyed a Sunday afternoon session, until the time was upon us to call it and head back to Sydney.
We said goodbye as we were dropped at Ali and Chris' house for what would be a fantastic BBQ dinner. Georgie, Lauren, Jem, Ewan, and of course Ali, Chris, and Adrian were in attendance. It was fantastic, as always, to spend time with these people and what's more, that Ali and Chris were so awesome to throw it together after such a big weekend. Big Ups Guys!
Monday morning, back to reality. We enjoyed a much needed chill Bondi day. We exercised, took care of business online, and got ready for our next adventure the following day... Oli's 30th Birthday Extravaganza in North Island New Zealand. These last few weeks of the trip are certainly some of the most action-packed and we couldn't be happier for it. We made the big decision to hightail it back for these two events and we weren't about to half-ass it now. On to NZ!