I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but I feel like a good story is always worth living just to be able to tell it later on at some bar in some other place. Sometimes it was something funny, sometimes it was scary, but once you tell it, it was always worth it. You meet people on the road, and the stories you lived will only allow you to meet more people. It’s one of those little things that I truly appreciate. Being able to drink a whiskey in some lost bar somewhere in Texas, and wining over people with my stories about some other bar in the deep outback of Australia. I always feel really relaxed then. Like I have earn some swagger after all. Even though I always feel like I must appear way more badass than what I actually feel in my little heart.
So it was at the very beginning of my Australian trip, I was working in the middle of a national park in Western Australia. One glorious morning, I woke up to a burn smell in the air. When I went outside, the forest all around our little wooden cabins was just slowly burning down.
It was a CONTROLLED fire, explained my boss. She was very glad it was finally happening around here, because it had been a few years. The purpose of a controlled burn is to destroy the leaves and little wood in the forest, so that in case of a REAL fire, it won’t spread as fast and as wild. So they carefully and watchfully burn parts of the forest every year, to be able to better control any wild fire.
It was honestly a surreal experience. I couldn’t work so my boss just set two chairs right in the middle of the road, may be 4 meters from the fire, and we opened a bottle of chardonnay. We watched as the firemen came and went, exchanging jokes and waving. We just sat there and watched it burn. You could smell the fire, feel the heat if you walked a little closer. You could HEAR it, and I never realized until then how much NOISE it actually makes. It’s a soft, warm, but still kind of menacing background noise that never truly leaves you.
It was even more spectacular at night. Everything was burning and you were just standing still, in your little clearing, on the threshold of your wooden cabin. And I just sat there, listening to it, looking at it. Going to bed that night, everything burning around me, was surreal. I KNEW the firemen were there, monitoring it all. They gave me SO many explanations, a map, were so friendly. But still. Closing my door on the burning red flames 10 meters away from me, I felt that I would definitely be telling THAT story in a bar somewhere.