Sunday, January 27, 2008

Australia Day Weekend

January 26th is Australia Day, and similar to Labor Day in the US, we get Monday off of work.


To celebrate, we did a 3k/5k fun run/walk on Saturday morning and about half of Darwin showed up. After handing out prizes for the best costumes, we sang the national anthem, which apparently ISN'T "Waltzing Matilda." The anthem started out strong, but by the last verse several nearby Australians joined us in looking puzzled over the words. Overall the race was good fun and there was a traditional sausage sizzle afterwards (what we've since learned is just a hot dog with a slice of bread instead of a hot dog bun). For as popular as sausage sizzles are here, you'd think the person who introduces hot dog buns to Australia would stand to make a fortune. Try to say sausage sizzle 5 times fast.

So the race begins and a wide mass of people tries to narrow itself onto a foot path. This process takes awhile and Jenni quickly gives up all hope of beating her fastest 5k time. As we round the first bend, there's a group of indigenous australians sitting near the toilets (Blackfellas -- this is a term okay to use only in the NT where 10% of the population is indigenous and in everyday speak white people are whitefellas and black people are blackfellas. Anywhere else in OZ it is NOT an appropriate thing to say). They're obviously getting a huge kick out of all these silly sweaty whitefellas packed together in their running shorts. A couple men make fun of us as we run by... imitating our gaits and serious expressions. It's all in good fun. But one woman is obviously not amused and as we approach her we are met with full force of her loud accusation: "This is OUR territory!" This is OUR territory!"

And that's the thing about Australia Day. It's meant to commemorate the first British Colony established in Sydney by Captain Phillip. Some people call it "Invasion Day" and associate it with the loss of indigenous culture. So Australia Day's US equivalent is somewhere between Columbus Day, in terms of meaning, and the 4th of July, in terms of "national pride."

Saturday afternoon we bought a car, a 1999 Honda CRV.


We spent all day Sunday cleaning and cooking in preparation of our first hosted dinner. David cooked enough food for a small army, or at least way too much for our 5 guests. Ceviche, tacos, salsa, burritos, chicken quesadillas... David did his best to bring Latin America to Darwin. And, of course, it was good!


But by Monday we're all worn out. Even the cats seem exhausted, although Hugh had quite the adventure this morning. Still working on our morning coffees, Hugh comes trotting into the house with something about a foot long protruding from either side of his mouth, "Look what I caught," he seems to say. What he's got is called a "ta ta" lizard because as you walk down the foot path these lizards scurry out of your way on their hind legs, waving their arms good-bye.

After much chasing and growling, "It's my lizard, leave me alone," Hugh dropped the lizard for a split second and we pulled him away before he had a chance to get ahold of Ta-ta again. It ran away, probably distressed, but still alive and in one piece. It didn't bother to wave.

1 comment:

Joe Pearse said...

Well, it sure as hell sounds like you're fitting in. Or getting noticed. Maybe the second one. And that's a good thing. I think...