there was george
02.07.2008 - 08.07.2008 9 °C
After 4 flights and 40 harrowing hours, I made it-- I'm deep within bowels of the underbelly of this world: Australia.
Alright, it wasn't that harrowing. Nor is it the underbelly, per se (it is upside down, though. the toilets flush the wrong way). I managed to insulate myself from the more unpleasant aspects of spending 40 hours in transit halfway around the world by finding my way into the Air New Zealand travellers lounge, which offers an eclectic selection of New Zealand's finer wines. The seven hour stopover in LA flew by in a haze of chiraz, roast beef sandwiches, inspired air guitar solos (to air is human, after all) and a seemingly endless parade of tantalizing miniskirts belonging to the backsides of exotic air hostesses. On a related note, I figure the way to get rich in LA is to somehow get involved in the silicone trade. More of that was jiggling around in the terminal than every Hooters combined (unfortunately they more often than not were attached to middle aged women who looked like the terrifying spawn of a plastics factory and the product of 2 decades under a tanning bed). Anyway, I eventually managed to stumble bleary-eyed through the canteloupe market of a terminal and onto the plane heading for New Zealand. As soon as I made it to my seat, I promptly slouched over and slipped into a veritable dreamworld filled with kangaroos and gently swaying silicone hills, only to wake up just as we landed in Auckland. Good way to fly, that.
Following a brief stopover in Auckland, I finally boarded the final flight towards Melbourne, Australia. Following a rather uneventful flight (excepting the viewing of Semi-Pro... if you haven't seen it, go rent it), I made it down under. Upon arrival I was delighted to learn that the airline had done me the favour of neglecting to forward my baggage along with my person. Lovely. Normally this wouldn't perturb me too much, but I was presently getting in a car to head 2500 km into the middle of the outback for a week. Now I had to do it with only the clothes on my back (and the blankets I lifted from the airline). Greazy life.
Only two hours after being recovered from the airport, my travel companions and I-- Samy and Brandon-- hopped in a car and headed north into the great Australian outback.
First stop in the trip due North was the Southern Australia city of Adelaide. It's a beautiful city characterized by broad avenues and large public parks where the locals stroll about and hang out. We stopped by the market to pick up some food, the highlight of which for me was the "bumburner sausage." If you're going to the middle of nowhere, you might as well do it with salami.
Several hours later (horrific, bowel-rumbling hours later, owing to the bumburner's legacy), we bid farewell to the last evidences of civilization (a definition to be taken in its broader sense, for those that have seen Port Augusta) and met the Outback with open arms. The vast nothingness of the Outback is really something that cannot be captured with words or camera. In some places it seems a limitless horizon, utterly devoid of any definitive features where you can literally see the curvature of the earth. In others, the red soil and rocks are accompanied by thick underbrush that houses rodents, hawks, snakes, rabbits, camels and (of course) kangaroos, while in the hazy distance rugged mountains jut out from the arid landscape. The Outback is something to be experienced.
I'll spare you the gritty details of the time spent in the red centre, largely because it involves alot of driving and not much else. We learned the hard way not to drive at night in the Outback by killing two rabbits, two kangaroos (jumpy bastards dented up our grill something fierce), and nearly ourselves by way of a gigantic desert camel standing in the middle of the road at 2 am. We visited Uluru (Ayer's Rock), that famous red giant (the largest monolith in the world!), central to the Aboriginal Dreamtime and one bitch of a climb. Unforgettable view, though.
We missed getting gas at one point in our drive, which is not recommended. Distances between stations are predictable only for the fact that they will be lengthy. Dodging dozens of kangaroos out for a midnight snack in the middle of the road (some real close calls. thank God for countless hours of evasive training via Mariokart), we were lucky enough to make it to an outpost with 16 km of gas left in the tank, thankful we didn't get stranded in the middle of the outback at 3 am. Unfortunately the station didn't open until the next morning, so we had the displeasure of sleeping three grown ass men to one mid sized sedan in nighttime desert temperatures. At another point we blew out a tire and had to do some roadside maintenance in the middle of nowhere, attaching the donut and having to go 80 kmph (roughly half of our usual moving average), and taking a little detour to Alice Springs to get some repairs done.
All in all, we managed to cover some 6000 kilometers in about 5 days, tire mishap and all. Right now I'm hanging out in Melbourne with Brandon and checking out the scene. We're living with some characters and the near future is looking promising. I may have a gig driving senior citizens to ski chalets in the mountains and back, which should either be pretty wild or in bed by six.
We'll find out.