To spend time in Amed is to become part of the village. No, not to be shown around or pandered to like a tourist, but to be taken in by the villagers as one of their own.
The village I’m staying at, Aas (and yes, it sounds exactly the way you think it does) has around 300 inhabitants, relies on fishing and the tiny bit of tourism it receives to survive, and is desperately poor. Parents can barely pay to send their kids to school, the children have a patch of rocky sand about 15 metres long to play on, but it’s still one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Shit, just check out the view from my bed this morning.
Hint hint, ladies, if you hang with me, you can enjoy vistas like that, too. It’ll almost be enough to make up for the disappointing sex.
I’m pretty sure I’m the only outsider staying here, so everybody already knows my name, even if they can’t pronounce it. I needed to get some money so one bloke took me on a 15km round trip on the back of his bike (if I ever get reincarnated, I wanna come back as a biker moll. I’d love to spend all day hugging the backs of beefy guys as they zoom around. I wouldn’t be too keen on the sex, but you can’t have it all your own way), another took me in and gave me lunch, and this afternoon as I tried to go for a walk, I made it about 500m before being dragged into a game of beach soccer.
I guess they assumed that with my athletic physique I’d be an awesome addition to their team, but I’ve never played fucking soccer before in my life and didn’t have a clue what to do other than hoof the ball down the other end. The children believed my name was ‘Bryan’ (whether they simply couldn’t pronounce my name or believe that all white men are named Bryan after a visit from award-winning actor Bryan Brown, I never found out) and called it out excitedly as they waited for me to do bicycle kicks and slidey things amongst the fish heads and rocks that made up the field. Imagine their disappointment when they realised I’m almost as fucktarded as the Central Coast Mariners.
The highlight of my performance was elbowing a small child in the mouth. Eventually they made me be that guy in the goals who can use his hands to stop the ball, which I’m pretty sure is where they put the rubbish players – kinda like how in rugby league, the worst player on the field plays whatever position it is Ben Creagh is playing at the time.
In the end, Bryan FC went down 11-0. I’ve been invited back to play again tomorrow, so I think we’ll play football instead. Then we’ll see who’s boss.
To be honest, it was a lot of fun, even if soccer is a sport for girls and the uncooridinated. But being asked to be part of something, by people who have met me, was good. There’s such a lack of community in Australia, such a fear and hatred of anyone unknown, that something simple and fun like this couldn’t happen there. If an adult walks within 10m of a child in Australia, a worried parent will chase him off, and it’s thinking like that that’s making the world a shittier place. No, the world can’t be like this village, but there’s a truckload that can be learnt from this simple, caring and inclusive way of life.Oh, and when I was snorkelling I saw a big bit of coral that looked like a penis and tried to hump it.