DAY EIGHTY-FIVE

This is the first time my entire trip that I'm starting to feel a twinge of homesickness. Christmas for me has always been a time to just spend time with my family and close friends, and being away from this year has been hard. I have such fond memories of spending winter evenings cuddled in blankets drinking mint tea with my mom, playing Texas Hold em with my brothers and getting schooled by them, getting into huge (hilarious) fights with my brothers while playing monopoly, arguing over which Christmas movies to watch, catching up with old and treasured friends, going skating in a red scarf and black coat, taking walks in a winter wonderland, baking cookies with my friends, exchanging stories and laughing at our own embarrassing memories from the year, and just being surrounded by so much unconditional love. That's what Christmas has always meant to me, it was never about the presents or fancy dinners for me, it was always and still is always just about being around people that I love and cherishing and appreciating what they bring to my life. So despite feeling like half my heart is back home in Vancouver, I'm excited to be spending this Christmas in Melbourne with some of my new but dear friends. Cheers to making new traditions and new memories. 

So today is XMAS EVE, which is why I was getting all nostalgic and emotional ahah, anyways, despite my greatest efforts I still didn't get to bed until about 12 last night, man everyday is just so jampacked busy and hectic, but I'm not complaining it's a whole wackload of fun, just EXHAUSTING! So after just passing out last night, I woke up around 8. Then Griff came upstairs and all 3 of us just lied in bed resting and chatting, then finally just around 9 the guys decided to head out for a flat 3-4 hour ride along the beach, but I just wasn't feeling like a hard workout this morning, so instead I stayed back and went for a nice slow 90 minute jog around the neighbourhood. Then I came back and was so hot and sweaty, so I downed some frozen mangoes, a freezie (which reminded me of the good ole days of my childhood ahha) and some Nutrigrain cereal, showered, put mint oil on (because it reminds me of candy canes and makes me feel festive), and wrote some Christmas cards for my friends. Then around 12:30 the guys came back, and by around 1:45 we were ready to leave for Margaux's house! Her dad's away so she has the entire house to herself, so naturally we planned a little XMAS EVE vegan dinner get together. And what started as an intimate small affair has now turned into a 15 person XMAS party ahah. We rode in the scorching sun to her place, and by the time we got there my back was soaked and my backpack was drenched, ahha but after changing we cooled down in Margaux's air conditioned house! Her friend Hannah was already there so we just chilled, chatted, ate grapes, listened to music, and relaxed until everyone else arrived. It was so amazing to see everyone, I haven't seen most of these people since the Fruit Festival in Thailand and it was unbelievably wonderful just to catch up and hug them, and be around all these loving people again. The first to arrive after us were Shannon, her daughter Ellie (who is a hilarious lovely girl), and Anthony. They brought "sausage" rolls which we heated up and snacked on with ketchup eheh.

But man it was so great to catch up with Shannon, we just sat in our own little corner for ages chatting about life and happiness and everything in between. I also got to know her daughter and man she is just like a little mini Shannon. So full of life, full of curiosity and such a beautiful soul! So once Angelo arrived, we started preparing the food.

They made nachos with vegan cheese and salsa, rice, pasta, tomato sauce, mustard maple syrup sauce, salad, bean sauce and more. Then while we waited for everyone else to arrive, I played with Ellie, talked to the few people I didn't know, listened to stories, told stories, learnt some dance moves from Anthony, and just enjoyed being in a room full of my friends. Then it was time to FEAST.

I ate 3 platefuls because man it was too tasty not too, I loved mixing the mustard maple syrup sauce with the rice and salad. So tangy and sweet. Then while our food was settling, I asked Jeremy who is a hard core cyclist, to take a look at my bike. My front derailleur has been rubbing against the chain when I'm in the big ring for quite awhile now, and we just haven't been able to adjust it outwards enough, but he managed to work some bike mechanic magic on it, and now the incessant clicking no longer haunts me while I'm riding, woohoo! After that, we dug into the Caramel squares that he made, they were probably the best caramel squares I've ever had before and after being vegan.

The crust was made of crushed Arrowroot cookies, the caramel was rice malt syrup and dates, and the chocolate was well... dark chocolate! ahah, seriously epic. Then we whipped out all the soy ice cream that me and the guys had bought, and we ate them with Shannon's chocolate cake/biscuit/bar thingy's.... whatever they were they were fucking tasty. I just have such a sweet tooth, and I ended up eating 3 cakes, and probably ended up eating a whole litre of the ice cream.

And as Ellie said "it's too good to stop eating!" aahha, man she's only 5 years old but boy is she a smart cookie. And after everyone was all full from dessert, we took a walk to the beach. The sun was just starting to set, and it was casting the most serene rose pink and soft orange light across the ocean.

It was such a magical hour, and it was truly beautiful. We all walked along the sand with the warm wind blowing us, dipping our feet into the crisp water, and enjoying the view. We spent a good hour there just watching the sun set in the embrace of our friends, skipping rocks, collecting shells, walking along the water, and playing with the mud.

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Then after the sun finally set, we headed back and eventually people started to say their good byes and leave. Me and a few others were staying the night at Margaux's so after everyone left, we just sat around in peaceful silence for awhile longer before finally heading off to bed around midnight. What a unique yet remarkable Christmas Eve. Many wonderful memories were created tonight!