One week in Australia and I’ve seen kangaroos and koalas in the wild, shot guns in the outback, worked on the bizarre Aussie slang, came face to face with the biggest spider I’ve ever seen, rode around in a Jeep, and generally drank a lot. It’s pretty much what you’d expect, except way more awesome.
I arrived in Sydney last week Thursday, which was quite depressing after almost four months in South America. It felt like a cold shower, especially after I arrived in the hostel and there’s only English kids on their gap year, with a variety of terrible English accents. I wished nothing else but to be back in Buenos Aires, but it all got better when I hopped back on a plane the next morning and made my way to Adelaide to meet Kelvin. Eight years ago I’d promised to visit by December 11, 2004, so I’m about six years late. Thankfully he doesn’t mind and I’ve been spending the last week staying over at his and his fiancee Lia’s apartment.
Mostly we’ve been drinking, catching up on old times, and touring the town of Adelaide. It’s got 1 million inhabitants but feels in many ways a lot smaller than that – after a few days I’d started recognizing folks on the street. But it’s very genial, and everyone is more than happy to have a little chat and enjoy each other’s company. It’s also a good start to get used to the Australian slang, which is not so much slang as it is a completely separate version of the English language. There are substitute words for just about everything, like ‘joey’ (baby kangaroo), ‘stubby’ (beer bottle), ‘in like Flynn’ (hitting it off with a girl), ‘sweet as’ (really good), or ‘bogan’ (redneck).
On Friday, Lia took me to her mother’s place up in the hills. Only thirty minutes out of town but it feels like lightyears. As we drive up the hill in the 4×4, a kangaroo comes hopping past. A few turns later, there’s a koala chilling on a tree branch. Seeing these animals in the wild is very impressive, and I was lucky enough to spot another koala later in the afternoon. If they look stoned, that’s because they actually are -the oils in the eucalyptus leaves are both toxic and mildly hallucinogenic.
I just got back from a weekend trip to the Murray River, where neighbors of Kelvin’s parents have a summer camp. You know you’re having a good time when someone asks “Boys, don’t you think you should shoot guns before you get too drunk?”. We went kneeboarding (it’s like waterskiing but on your knees), made a huge campfire, shot beer cans with a .22 (and later used it to shoot branches off a tree to make the stuck Frisbee fall down), launched golf balls at a solitary bush 100 meters away, and ate straight off the grill. Finally, it was a special moment when you’re out there, gathering golf balls, and two kangaroos suddenly hop by.
I feel I should also update you on the status of the poisonous creatures here. So far: no sightings. When carrying wood for the campfire, Kelvin’s dad pointed out a huge huntsman spider chilling on a log. It’s non-venomous, and according to his dad wasn’t anywhere as big as the one he found in his caravan that morning, but I was definitely a lot more careful picking up logs after that. Mostly, it’s the bloody flies they have that are making life hard. They cannot be swatted away easily, but will keep coming back to you and landing on your face and sticking there until you peel them off your skin. Eventually you have to just accept that they’re all over, and become very Zen about the whole thing.
So, as usual, here’s some photos:
Next up, ie tomorrow morning, Kelvin and I are heading to the South Island in New Zealand for a week. I’m not 100% sure what we will be doing there, except for one thing: we will participate in a Lord of the Rings re-enactment where we will dress up as warriors of Rohan and charge down a hill. Kelvin tries to tell me what else we’re gonna do, but I’m way too excited to listen. For Rohan!