Mis Axilas Duele (My Armpits Hurt)

Subtitle: Adventures of the Crippled One

During Surf Camp about three weeks ago, I rolled over my toes into the ocean when I tried standing up on the board. I didn’t think it would matter very much, so I continued to walk on it for two weeks. Finally went to the doctor’s last Friday, and the prognosis was that I had overstretched tendons and should keep off my foot for a while. What do I do right after the doctor says that? GO ON ADVENTURES.

Friday, February 14 – Valentine’s Day at Luna Park

I emailed my mom about my injury and how I needed to use crutches, she sent me this email:

Ma, do you have to make fun of me at my moment of pain? Oy. It’s difficult talking to my mom via email because she speaks Chinese-English and I speak English. Sometimes I have to guess what she means because she’s missing nouns or verbs. Same thing interning at The Iconic. Since it’s so diverse from China to Indonesia to France to Portugal, I get lost in people’s emails because they’re speaking their version of English. At first I was like “You said what now?” but I’m picking it up quickly.

Janus, Jana, Sheena, Yae Jin (Jenny), Daniel, and I planned to go to Luna Park for Valentine’s Day because… why the heck not? We had to take a short train ride out there. Even though Sydney tunnels and stations are not air-conditioned and I sweat buckets when I’m in them, I don’t mind it all because it’s better than Boston’s public transportation. I am definitely not missing the always late, always loud, always squishy, always smelly T.

Janus said Luna Park Sydney was like Coney Island in New York. There’s actually a Coney Island in Luna Park. Tiny amusement park with maybe only 10 to 15 rides. We knocked everything out in about two hours. My favorite rides had to be the burlap sack slide and bumper cars. There weren’t any roller coasters with big drops, but I did get to scream my head off on one ride because I spent most of the time perpendicular to the ground. I’m pretty sure I was yelling for my mommy to come and save me…

My physiotherapist gave me this arm crutch to use during my limping period. It’s one of those crutches with an arm ring to put your hand through so you won’t hurt your armpits. I thought I could handle a two-hour adventure at Luna Park, but after half an hour, I had to try to not be grouchy. If you don’t know, I get grouchy pretty easily- when I’m hungry, when I’m tired, or when I’m annoyed. This time I was getting grouchy because I was frustrated. I didn’t know how much it would hurt using crutches and I felt bad that I was slowing down the group. I couldn’t really do anything about it except not explode on bystanders, and I didn’t. Whew. My homies would have seen a shocking side of me.

Saturday, February 15th – Hunter Valley Wine Tour

If I didn’t buy a ticket for this wine tour already, I would have stayed at home and rested. Since I paid, I pushed through the pain and enjoyed the day as much as I could. Sebastian (Sebby) was our tour guide for the day. He had bright red hair, was born in Western Australia and drove across the country with his girlfriend for job opportunities on the East Coast.

We first went to a wildlife park (but I don’t remember the actual name of the park) where kangaroos, emus, wallabys, and koalas roamed freely around the grounds. We got to touch Pepper (koala) and hold Shaggy (snake). Pepper is really, really, really soft. I’m currently in the process of finding out how to grow eucalyptus trees in my backyard so I can bring a koala home for myself.

(I was on the phone trying to get a doctor’s note for my foot, a wheelchair for Melbourne, and two crutches instead of one.)

I was bitten by a snake once in seventh grade. My science teacher had lots of reptiles in his classroom, and he would put them on the classroom tables to feed them because the kids always asked him too. One morning, I walked past this snake who just finished its breakfast (there was a huge mouse shape in his stomach), and he attacked and bit me on my thumb. I wasn’t afraid of the bite because he barely damaged me, but I was more shocked at how fast he attacked.

We got to wander around the park grounds, and saw a Tasmanian devil (kind of cute), wombats (their heads look too big for their bodies, which make them funny cute), dingoes (much prettier than I imagined), and kookaburra (I tried to make it sing/laugh, but it just wouldn’t). Janus and I watched while two peacocks chased after an emu (which are huge birds), and the emu reacted by having a seizure and then running away. It was pretty funny.

After the park, we went to three wine tastings, one cheese tasting, and one chocolate tasting. By the time we finished the first wine tasting, I was saying that “the pain in my foot don’t hurt no mo’”. That was point of the tour, right? I especially enjoyed the cheese tasting. There was one (which I can’t remember now) that tasted like sour cream and it was oh-so-delicious. Why didn’t I buy it? Probably because by that time, the pain in my foot was coming back and all I wanted to do was sit down.

What I learned from the wine tour: it takes time to accept the taste of red wine. For now, I am more of a moscato and white wine girl, but with the right food pairing, I can learn to like red wine as well.

Sunday, February 16th – Melbourne Time!

I had a four-day class trip in Melbourne for my Australian Culture and Society class. I would have preferred if I weren’t injured and could walk everywhere, but being on crutches or in a wheelchair while in Melbourne gave me a whole other perspective on the city.

Sheena and Janus waited with me at the airport for a wheelchair, and while we were waiting, this beautiful men’s team from Perth waltzed in. When I say beautiful, I mean oh-my-gosh-I’m-already-melting beautiful. I tried figuring out which team they were on the spot, but I didn’t know which sport they played. The only thing I could tell you is that they were sponsored by an insurance company.

There was an hour and a half before our flight left, so the three of us took a spin around the airport. More like me being spun around by Janus. She had lots of fun figuring out how to use a wheelchair and then pushing me around. I don’t know why but Starburst gummies are more delicious in Australia than in America. I also tried meat pies from Pie Face for the first time, and even though it was a little bit on the pricey side, it was so good! Harry’s is the original meat pie company, but their meat pies are so intense that I turn my nose away. Pie Face, on the other hand, has a good balance of crust and meat and other random crap they put in there.

For dinner, we ate at Naked for Satan, which is Mexican tapas where patrons grab what they want to eat (because everything’s on toothpicks), and just bring the toothpicks to the register afterwards to pay. Janus and I split dinner, so we grabbed pretty much everything because that’s how we operate. There were a couple that I wasn’t a fan of (and one that I couldn’t get past the smell), but the rest was pretty damn good. A must try place while in Melbourne!

Monday, February 17th – Such is Life

Janus and I rose up bright and early because we had to be at RMIT at 9 AM for a lecture and I was going to take much longer because I was on crutches. We ate un grande breakfast at Café 65, just how queens should eat. It’s a good thing that there was so much food too because I needed to have enough energy to maneuver on the crutches.

I was exhausted when we arrived at RMIT around 9:30 AM because we took a wrong turn and I needed a few breaks for my armpits. I signed up to do the “What’s Love Got to Do With It” tour around the Australian Open, but it was very walk-intensive, so I switched to the “Such is Life” tour about Ned Kelly and his time at Melbourne Gaol. Ned Kelly is an iconic figure in Australian history and folklore because he was an Irishman who had multiple conflicts with the law as a kid, and was finally executed by hanging at the age of 25. We had a tour of the Melbourne Gaol, which is based on the Eastern Penitentiary in Pennsylvania, and re-enacted the courtroom drama of Ned’s trial.

The one thing I will remember about Melbourne is barhopping in a wheelchair. The biggest difference between Sydney and Melbourne is that most everything people go to in Sydney are on the main streets, but all the good stuff in Melbourne are in the alleyways. These alleyways are horrendous for disabled people: some slant inwards so you’re always moving from right to left, some are cobblestone which makes me want to pee when I ride over them, and it’s never a smooth ride. Even in general, Melbourne’s streets aren’t safe for the disabled, whether they are on crutches or in wheelchairs. I was thrown out of my seat several times trying to get on the sidewalk and banged a couple walls as well. Nonetheless, it was an interesting night. We went to:

  • The Croft Institute—drinks are served with a needle, and bathrooms look like hospital waiting rooms
  • Section 8—outdoor bar with very loud music and very large bottles of beer
  • Sister Bella—two flights of stairs to a comfy bar, board games are available
  • Stalactites—24 hour Greek food, and it was great

Tuesday, February 18th – Great Ocean Road Tour

I also signed up for this tour long before my injury. It cost $100, so I definitely didn’t want to back out of it. Unfortunately, the tour wasn’t wheelchair accessible so I had to try my best hobbling along. Overall, the tour wasn’t as great as it could have been. They prepared light snack before lunch and lunch for us, but the food and drinks were awful. Of course I’m a biased because I was crippled and couldn’t do everything that everybody else did.

I did, however, ride a helicopter over the 12 Apostles. When I climbed out of the helicopter, a pilot named Tane came and helped me out. I grabbed onto his arm while limping, and he asks, “Do you want me to help you over there to your crutch or do you want to stay here and I’ll bring the crutch to you?” I know I say this a lot, but this man was gorgeous and perfect. Without a second thought, I said, “It’s better if you just help me over.” Oh man, his smile was perfect and… swoon.

Wednesday, February 19th — Green is the New Gold

In the morning, Janus and I trekked (or she trekked and pushed while I sat) 30 minutes away to eat at a cafe called Silo by Joost. Silo by Joost is a zero-waste, eco-friendly restaurant. Everything that comes through the company is either recycled or could be recycled. Straws are made of cardboard, plates are re-tiled plant holders, and lots more. The food was delicious as well. Janus and I tried this sweet brown rice with lots of random stuff on it because the waitress said it tasted like rice pudding. It does not taste like rice pudding, and all the random stuff was pretty sour so the only way to stomach it was to eat it with the peaches. Except we didn’t have any peaches. Otherwise, the food was splendid.

After brekkie, Janus and I wandered off to pick up some flat whites. Once again, cobblestones, bumpy ride that made me want to pee, and lots of alleyways. Manchester Press was located in an alley with a huge disco ball swinging in the middle of it. Australians know how to make their coffee. That, and I can better withstand stronger coffee now: I only put one spoon and a half of sugar. (Still working on it, don’t rush me!)

Turns out, the first stop for our tour “Green is the New Gold” was at Silo by Joost. Janus was pushing me down the same road, and we looked at each other, thinking, “Please tell me it’s not the same place….” It was, but at least we got free nibbles and coffee this time around. Dan then took over wheelchair duties and pushed me for the rest of the time. The tour was interesting: our guide was an eloquent speaker and knew what he was talking about, and he led us to several destinations that were important to the topic of sustainable living and design.

We had about 3 hours between the end of the tour and when we were supposed to be back at the hotel. Becky, Janus, Daniel, Lucas, and I started out as a group and checked out the place around Federation Square with ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) and the nearby alleys. I would have loved to have more time just to check out each and every restaurant we came across because every place offered something different. We then split up so it was just Becky, Janus and me, and we had a food adventure of our own with Becky pushing me most of the time.

First stop: Shebeen. 100% of the profits of drinks go towards a program in that drink’s country of origin. For example, if I bought a Beer Ha Noi tinny from Vietnam, then that drink’s profits go towards Room to Read (as listed by Shebeen). It’s a great concept, and way to help others.

Second stop: a random macaroon shop in the middle of a hill. We passed other macaroon shops, but we only stopped at this one for some reason. Thank goodness we did, though, because their green tea macaroon was superb. I almost broke out in tears when I bit into it because it was a macaroon with the perfect amount of green tea flavor. I want another one now…

Last stop: Meatball & Wine Bar. Janus’ boss and one of my coworkers recommended this place, so we couldn’t leave without trying it out. We were all kind of full from the previous two places, so we split everything. AND IT WAS DELICIOUS. Seriously, my taste buds are having a glorious time in Australia with all the food. The meatballs? Perfectly cooked. I wouldn’t have thought to pair it with the white sauce, but it works! And the bread isn’t so thick that it covers all the taste, but it accentuates the meatballs and sauce just perfectly.

Thank you to all the people who pushed me around in my wheelchair in my crippled state: Janus, Sheena, Jana, Lauren, Daniel, and Becky. I hate depending on people because I don’t like to be a burden, so for you guys to do it so willingly without complaints makes me really happy that you guys are my friends.

Update on my foot: it’s almost healed. I can walk like a normal person now… still pretty slow, but at least I can walk. I almost made it to work (which is usually a 15-minute walk) without feeling tired, which is improvement.

One last thing before I finish talking about Melbourne:

The Crippled Juliet

Photos by Juliet, Janus & Charlotte

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