If you know me at all, it might come as a surprise that I am currently travelling with someone I’ve quite often described as the most annoying person in my life. But a moment on the flight over to Cuba changed all that.
As I looked out at the lights of Miami on the horizon, Pioneer by the Split Enz played on my MP3 player and it suddenly dawned on me: My mum is cool. I thought about it more and the realisation started to seep into every part of my being. My mum is responsible for my love of music, art, culture and a curiosity about the world that has lead to this crazy year of travel. When I was a kid, mum would take me into the then 5MMM and sit me in the studio while she did her radio program. I was dragged along to performances by U2, Dire Straights, Crowded House, Hoodoo Gurus and countless Adelaide pub bands. Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, Beatles, Led Zeplin ...... were all regulars on the stereo, something some of my friends parents didn't even have. Mum was on Sale of the Century back when Tony Barber and Alice Platt were in charge of things and won a pair of electric scooters (Although, she still refuses to show me the tape). My lefty sensibilities were drummed into me from an early age with “Bring Back Gough”, “NO DAMS” and “Nuclear Free Zone” badges stuck to the fridge. I was the little kid at anti war / nuclear / something-not-quite-socialist-enough demonstrations, which generated a healthy dose of cynicism towards the government and all things in charge. I was at the “This is not a fucking test transmission” launch of Triple J in Rymal Park. When I turned 14, it seemed perfectly natural for me to start doing Rock n Roll High School, with the 3D Radio veterans of the time already knowing who I was. “How’s your mum?” they would ask. While going through a marriage breakup and dealing with a troublesome son, she held down a job and managed to finish off a uni degree at Flinders, majoring in film, Latin American history and language.
All of this welled up inside of me and I began to cry. I'm such a sook these days, but really I got quite emotional. Regardless of all the shit that has happened and how frustrated I get with her at times, she’s still a pretty cool lady. And she’s my mum. A plan formed in my head. I would go to Cuba then travel to Central America and work my way down to Argentina where I would meet mum and travel about South America for a month or so, allowing her to soak in the culture she studied and the language she loves.
Then I got mugged in Havana and lost my nerve to travel.
I still knew that travel with mum would be a great idea, but the idea of doing it in another sketchy country was really daunting. I was missing home and the last thing I could think of doing was Sheparding my mum through dodgy little villages and cramming onto stinky, falling apart buses. But I had already seeded the idea of travel in mum’s head and I didn’t want to let her down. Combined with wanting to get back to Europe for Eurovision and summer in Berlin, I figured Spain was a good compromise. A plan formed and flights were booked.
I was going travelling with my mum. My sister said I was crazy. I agreed.