• Barbara Murphy-Shannon

Australia, Chapter 9 - Bloodsuckers, An Optical Phenomenon and Macho BS for the WIN!

Updated: Jan 31

We continued to walk up the dried-up river bed where the water forgot to flow has left us empty, cracked, dry, and parched lips. The earth is the color of death. We are all dehydrated, aching, tired, and stumbling along.

I’m tired, depressed, and lost. Mitch attempts to cheer me up. It’s not working.

I stop and sit on a large rock to rest, placing my palms on my face leaning on my knees, and close my eyes for just a moment. I know I can’t rest too long. We must keep moving.

I slowly opened my eyes, I looked down at my legs and at first glance, I didn’t know what was all over my legs? Black spots everywhere???

I rubbed my eyes and strain to focus.

As my vision became clear I can now see what these black spots are.




I am covered with flies. Bloodsuckers. Eating from my scabs like a vampire.

I started to scream and cry, slapping them off me.

Mitch helps slap them off me.

I jumped up and shook and quivered in disgust.

I run shaking and slapping myself.

Mitch catches up and I stop running. I'm shaking. He wraps his arms around me and holds me until I stop shaking.

We drag along, stepping over rocks and the cracks grew deep in the barren, arid soil like wrinkles on an old face. The heat is oppressive, sweltering, and exhausting. My mouth is so dry, and I have no saliva, but I keep licking my lips.

I look ahead hoping to see something familiar...a field...a goat...a person...a road...a river...anything. Anything but the same dried-up river, dirt, and sun.

Then I see it. It glistens in the sun. I stare at it. What it is? It's black and round that waves in the air.

A puddle?

A pool of.....??????



My brain says go! I push my body.

I'm yelling and screaming to the guys, “WATER” “WATER”!!!!

As I approach the black circle the image is changing.

When I arrive, it has turned into a large black ROCK. The water is gone!!!

What kind of trickery is this? Who would play such a cruel trick?

Is this what it feels like to be crazy.

It’s late afternoon and we’ve been walking for hours.

We come upon a ridge, and it looks familiar. We walk to the clearing and the guys become eager because they believe it’s the one, we were running in yesterday.

I still feel lost and thought they were foolish.

Could it be the prairie that we were running through yesterday with the goats?

Things started to look more and more recognizable.

We see goats! Goats! We haven’t seen any goats since yesterday. We all become very excited, and the boys start to high-five each other which I think is very pre-mature. Men?

Marty, Peter, and John started walking faster and faster towards where they believed camp is waiting for us.

I was dragging behind and not feeling well. John had to tell the boys to wait for me.

Peter stops and waits for me. “Barbara, you don’t look so good.” I don't answer him because what I want to say is "Piss off" and I know he is only making an obvious observation. I know I look like hell.

We climb up a steep ridge helping each other and everyone's demeanor has changed. I see smiles and hear laughter.

When we get to the top the four of us lean over and peek below.

There IT is!

Below us, our camp, our old white van, Big John…. Everyone!!!

I was getting ready to yell when Marty said “No, let’s just walk into camp like nothing is wrong”

WTF!!! Is wrong with you?

Fuck that shit!!!!

I start yelling, jumping up and down, and waving my arms as tears run down my face.

Then the guys start to yell and wave their arms.

Everyone below at camp starts yelling back and waving their arms jumping up and down.

I’m safe.

I made it.

I'm alive.


This is a true story that chronicles my rebellious journey when I was 24 years old backpacking around the world looking for solace after the end of an abusive marriage (ok to escape). An intensely graphic and heartfelt memoir of self-discovery is about how getting lost can be where you belong, how traveling to new cultures and meeting new people helps you heal (they don't judge), find your voice and remember who you really are and want to be. It is certain to inspire anyone who has ever woken up in a life they don’t want to be in. Many life lessons and some bad decisions (sorry Mom) along the way. Buckle in! It's going to be a bumpy ride.

xoxo, Barbara

Barbara Murphy-Shannon, Psy.M. is a Mindset Breakthrough Business Coach for Entrepreneurs and Leaders. Reach out at Barbara@barbaramurphyshannon.com