Monday, April 14, 2008

Crocodile Rock

Well, we finally received our shipment from the United States. It's bizarre having all this stuff that is so associated with our lives in the US, and now it is here Darwin, Australia. Basil thoroughly enjoyed having all the boxes to climb on and explore. The movers entertained David with conspiracy theories involving the United States, the Bush family, and the World Bank. Apparently, whenever the World Bank needs money, they send the US off to war, which causes them to borrow money from the World Bank, and then the bank intern receives money from the payments...or something like that. David resisted the colonial urge to say, "So...?"

We've also managed to get out and do some exploring. We spent a Sunday in Litchfield Park, just south of Darwin. It's the smaller of the two big parks (Kakadu being the other one). Our first stop was the Termite mounds near the park entrance. They have a special area designated to look at them, but really they were all along the road. You can play spot the Termite mound in the photos. They were very tall, at least 7 ft. We also did a little hiking, but most of the longer trails were closed, still too wet from the rainy wet season. Jenni did a little swimming at Florence Falls (photo), and then we hiked to Buley Rockhole (6 km roundtrip). Jenni swam at Buley Rockhole too. There was no one on the trail, but there were plenty of people swimming. Apparently we were the only visitors who hadn't thought to bring a case of beer.

Jenni "The Navigator" plotted our route back to Darwin, which involved going to the edge of the park in the opposite direction and then heading on a 30 km long dirt road. We got about 5 km into the dirt road, and discovered it was still closed, and there was no way the little CRV was going to go through it anyway. On the way back to the main park road, David spotted a rock that looked like a Kangaroo...and turned out to be a Kangaroo, because it moved and hopped away from the road.

Jenni's Story

So I've gotten to do heaps (My second favourite Australian word so far. First is "suss," short for suspicious) of traveling in the last four months, all for "work." I went to Sydney and the Blue Mountains, Alice Springs and the APY Lands (near Ayer's Rock/Uluru), and New York... uhm, near New Jersey. Completely exhausted from all the travel I was "delighted" to find out I needed to go to the Tiwi Islands to conduct literacy assessments (Will the fun never end?). But it turned out to be quite the adventure. The flight to the Tiwis is only 30 minutes, but it was all in a single engine prop plane with 8 or so seats. They seated us according to weight and I was happy to be in the back next to the short, skinny Tiwi man without any luggage.

We were meant to assess the Tiwi kids for two full days, but only ended up giving them tests for one because the Northern Territory teachers decided to go on strike. Instead, we went to the art gallery and hung out at the local club (Only open 4:00-7:00 thanks to the Intervention). One teacher said he was going to make a picket sign that said "Free Tasmania." A local joke about how Tasmanians aren't really Australians -- kind of like Texans in the US. David saw an editorial where the author described a recent day at a boy scout jamboree, and the Tasmanian troop was listed under the overseas visitors.

Anyway, the REAL adventure was the plane flight back. We stood around the plane listening to the pilot describe the "emergency procedures." One of the things I noticed about the Tiwi Island pilots is that they're all young. Apparently this is how new pilots get their hours before flying real airplanes like 12 seater twin engines. Our pilot was tall and looked mysterious in his mirrored sunglasses. His masculine confidence was palpable as he opened the luggage compartment and tossed our suitcases in as if they were light as pillows. He looked around to see if anyone noticed.

It was then that he said, "I'm going to need someone to sit up front with me." I bravely suppressed an urge to shoot my hand straight up in the air. Calmly I responded after at least a 2 second pause, "If no one else wants to, I will." He actually looked visibly disappointed. It was then I realized he'd been looking directly at the long-haired 15 year old girl with the short skirt and tank top when he made the offer.

So that was how I got to sit in the front seat of the plane. And I have to say it was worth it, although I'm sure I ruined a budding romance. Although, perhaps I saved the poor young woman from inevitable disappointment. The pilot's mobile phone ring was the theme song to Top Gun.

Big News
And now for the big news. After many months of deliberation, newspaper polling, media attention, the masses have decided... We want Elton John. That's right, folks, the Sultan of Song, Mr. Big Glasses or a whole host of other nicknames he doesn't have, is on his way to Darwin.

Finally, the world will recognize Darwin as the cultural centre that it is. There's even talk of a Duran Duran reunion tour. Did anyone say Blondie?

But seriously, if anyone wants tickets, the concert has yet to sell out. Apparently that's typical in Darwin. No one buys tickets until the last minute.

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