Passionfruitcowgirl is not a sexual innuendo.
Apparently, Americans think it is. Which is a sad reflection on Americans, I think.
It is a name that came out of a boozy conversation on what to call a scruffy blog after I decided to split the suburbs for good and take a circuitous route back to the Amazon, where I had spent a good deal of time with cowgirls, farming passionfruit. True story.
Anyhow… this blog is a patchwork of stories based on experiences, people I met, questions I had and weird adventures after I left Sydney in 2008 after two decades as a crime, adventure and travel writer and took off around the world in a prolonged sort of stumble.
In the beginning, I was a press photographer, crime writer, features writer for The Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Penthouse, Italian Vogue, FHM, The Telegraph and others. I left that life because I discovered that a – there is no such thing as objectivity, which poses a serious dilemma for a classical journalist, and b – the good guys are not always the good guys, and the bad guys are usually more fun… which is a crisis for a crime writer, obviously.
After recovering from a nasty ‘incurable’ illness which left me crippled for two years, in 2004 I started an all-female charitable mountaineering project called Girls on Top & climbed Kilimanjaro, Huayhuash in Peru, the Zanskar in Ladakh; Potosi, Bolivia and spent time in Zimbabwe, on the Silk Route, trekking solo and floating about on the Amazon.
Girls on Top gave away about AU$250,000 to seed grassroots endeavours around the world – all headed by amazing women – in Africa and here (medical outreach, Amazon) and here (Peru’s only native animal rescue centre).
I canned it when it seemed women on mountains weren’t necessarily going to behave any better than anywhere else, but those teams made life-long changes to displaced communities in Zimbabwe, remote Amazon villages and ecologies on five continents. I and many others will never forget them. Even though I no longer make summits.
I set out instead, to get to the bottom of things. My first stop was three months in the jungle with an actual Ayahuascaro, vomiting in a bucket to get de sad out.
It’s because of this extraordinary, humbling experience in the jungle that I am still alive, let alone walking, and am inclined to be hostile toward gringo shaman, the abuse of plant medicines by profiteering gringos, and charlatans, in general.
I have lived in Peru, Bali, Thailand, Laos, Ecuador, started yoga schools in Galapagos, remote Australia and coached writers in South America, Bali, Australia and the USA since then. I have given up climbing mountains for wriggling about on yoga mats, surf boards, and dancing in my socks.
I honestly don’t know what’s going to make this world a better place, except for good old-fashioned love, respect for our elders, adoration for nature and a nice cup of tea.
My passions turn out to be rain storms, picnics, the clouds that rise off the land very early in the morning, the unfathomable happiness of the so-called poor I’ve been blessed to meet in my life, and people who drink too much whiskey.
I really love yoga. Even more now, after I once gave up on it as the domain of angry hippies and show offs.
I honour that tradition, and all my teachers, for the good juice it rises. I love meditation, especially Vipassana. I love Vegemite, baguettes, the land and the many indigenous souls who have passed on to me the way to feel it – you have kept a light alive against terrible odds, and I hope I can do something with it in my lifetime.
I miss all the little furry friends who have blessed my way; Pip, Daisy, K1, K2, K3, Henrietta, Carbonno, Honey, Grizzly, Princessa, Pan, Kitty, Pixie & Rose, Leo, Archie… and am extremely good at Yahtzee.