The decision to travel didn’t weigh heavily at all. It was a spontaneous thought that was acted on. Liv sold her prized Toyota Celica with the sunroof and left her apartment in Double Bay for the adventure of a lifetime. At the departure gate, the farewells were brief, as in all honesty, she wanted to leave everybody behind, especially after her father’s passing, the diabolical relationship with Andrew, and perhaps even me.
She set her sights for the Himalayan Mountains to trek the Annapurna range along the Jobson trail. Sounds romantic and adventurous, but I knew she struggled with the loneliness. Each day, Liv would pass strangers on the path, not pausing to chat, as for the most part, the hikers were quite focused on the task at hand. The conversation was limited to the usual pleasantries of “Good day” or “How ya going,” whilst walking through the small villages and meandering the winding trails along mountain peaks and ridges. Sleeping in a tent didn’t bring her closer to enlightenment, either. Not one for outdoor sleeping arrangements, I was surprised to find Liv opted for the tenting experience, as opposed to the cabins on offer for the weary soul. Rather than feeling energised and connected to nature, she found the experience fell short of her expectations. By and large, her body ached from head to toe. The continuous demands each step placed, one after the other, hour after hour, played havoc on her joints. One day in particular, it took twelve hours to reach her destination of Ghorapani, a village three thousand feet in altitude. Ghorapani is one of the most popular treks in Nepal, as it gives access to some of the world’s highest peaks, but it takes 3,381 stairs to get there. I’m not so sure you can call it a trek; it’s more like Led Zeppelin’s stairway to heaven. Liv best described it as the stairway to hell. A gruelling twelve hours of steps that made every muscle burn and every joint ache. There was no compensation, just a monotony of steps of unequal height and length that never ended. By nightfall, her spirit was almost broken. Her thoughts were equally unforgiving as the stairs, along the way. To her surprise, Nepalese ladies were selling tiger balm at the mountaintop, once she had reached her destination. Apparently, it was worth the effort. The views to Dhaulagiri, Nilgiri, and Annapurna were enchanting. Wispy clouds circled the snow-capped mountains, adding a mystic feel to the already spiritual place. It was satisfying, she confessed, once the deed was done and the tiger balm worked its magic.
I knew her experience in Nepal was arduous, particularly the trip back to Ghorapani from base camp at Annapurna. The night was fast approaching after a day of trekking. Snowflakes started to land gently on the rhododendron flowers, on the trees, and on the path below. After several hours of snowfall, toes numbed by the ice, Liv wished she wore runners instead of thongs. The lingering feeling she might spend the night in the great outdoors, wearing shorts and a T-shirt, didn’t offer any comfort, either. Unsure if it would serve any purpose, she pressed on with steely determination, until a light in the distance offered hope. Guided by the light, she finally made it to town and collapsed at the local inn. That night, she didn’t pitch her tent.
The trees and mountains provided a perfect opportunity for reflection for Liv; however, the experience evoked different emotions. She reached new heights of anger towards those who did her harm, ebbs of sadness and great depths of sorrow for the child who was lost. Disappointed by her response to the Himalayan adventure, she desperately wanted to find meaning in life, answers to the big questions, like who, what, where, when, how, which, what for, what next, then what, and why me? Annoyed by this, and feeling somewhat frustrated, she decided to fly to Africa in search of meaning, but instead of acting on her decision, she accepted a job in London as a nanny.
The flight from Thamel to Heathrow was fortunately uneventful, contrary to the condition of the aircraft, which didn’t inspire much confidence. The flight crew served lunch in a brown paper bag that doubled in use. The entertainment was the graffiti on the walls, and the flight path over war-torn countries was a matter of enquiry. Liv arrived safely; however, after passing through customs, she was swept away by airport officials. She was taken to a private room and searched, which was troubling at the time but made for a good story later. Apparently, it had to do with her appearance. Her Nepalese pants and sandals worn with socks looked fashionable in Kathmandu; however, it was not regarded well in London. Her hair was in dreadlocks due to the lack of attention, and the contents of her backpack looked suspicious. She was cleared of any wrongdoing except for poor presentation, which was in contrast to the day she met Margaret Thatcher.
Securing a position as a nanny provided Liv with accommodation, transport, and income. It was a good gig for the most part, except for the kids, the cleaning, and the cooking. One day, like any other, she was asked to bring the kids to Dulwich Hill. She did what she was told and was greeted by a lady, small in stature, however larger than life, dressed in skirt and jacket equipped with high heels. Her hair was blonde and teased into a beehive style that was formal and intimidating.
She took Liv’s hand and asked, “Are you the antipodean?”
Quick to respond, Liv said, “I’m not the only one,” and both ladies laughed. They shared this moment before the cameras and media arrived to find a story. This was the time that John Major was hoping to be elected for the Conservative Party and replace Margaret at the head of the commonwealth. Liv had always maintained that Meryl Streep might have won an Oscar for the Iron Lady if they included their meeting at Dulwich Hill before Margaret’s reluctant resignation.
Liv never intended to stay long in London, just long enough to save money for her trip to Africa.
That was the plan. Then she met Ian. This is where her story unravels.
Liv once expected her life to be quiet and unremarkable, epecially as a resident of a small country town in rural Australia. She was wrong. Following a failed relationship and the loss of her father, Liv’s decision to travel is easy. She seeks adventure and finds it, extending across four continents.
She lives life to the edge and ends up meeting Margaret Thatcher in London and being detained against her will in Namibia. With a story worth telling, her lifelong friend agrees to turn Liv’s words into a thrilling narrative, but he might have an ulterior motive as Liv finds more trouble than she wants in the form of romance.
Liv uncovers a world of betrayal, shrouded in lies that change her life and jeopardize her future. Her adventures continue, but is the man at her side destined to be her lover, or is there more to him than meets the eye?
About the Author
Mish Mockovic Martin finds inspiration through travel. She is a yoga teacher and author of Insights of a Yogi: Understanding Karma through Life’s Experiences. Currently at work on her next yoga book, she lives in Australia with her husband, three children, and three dogs. This is her debut novel.