A Letter from Down Under
Well, we made it to Sydney… and we are completely back-asswards. We are a day ahead, yet several hours behind, still swimming in the same ocean, but on the wrong side of the coast, and even though we speak the same language, we are often dumfounded in a conversation among Aussies.
Here is a mini language tutorial to help you on your travels down under: “That’s alright” roughly translates into “no worries”. This will often be a response after you have paid for something or if someone has done you a favor. “Hey?” seems to mean “eh?” or “huh?” depending on whether you are from the top or bottom of North America, respectively. Though, when saying hey, you really need to lift that last syllable into a much higher decibel. It’s more like “Heyyy???” Truth be told, I rather enjoy this idiom. It forces the other person to take part in the conversation, which is a great tool for people like me who love to talk incessantly and then insist my listener participates (yep, poor Mitch…). Lastly, nothing in the English language, and I repeat nothing, is too short to be abbreviated on this continent. Apparently, it really is that hard to say February. Feb is much less strenuous on the vocal cords. By the way, Feb is when people go back to Uni. Better pack that avo and toast breakkie for the lift. I think you get the point, heyyy???
When we first touched down in Sydney, we were in awe. Terraced houses, a city humid enough for plumeria flowers to litter the sidewalks, a local obsession with coffee when we thought it was all about beer, and shorts so short you could get an ass tan on a foggy day. To set the record straight, this isn’t just girls. What we would call a “Speedo” back in North America is all the rage here. Though the Aussie brand that made your masculine hydro-undies popular again has coined them “Budgie Smugglers”. However, I don’t think anything is getting smuggled out of those close-fitting banana hammocks. Neither of us has taken part in either fashion trend.
Just like buying a shoe at full price right before it goes on sale, a bit of Sydney’s magic has begun to wear off. As much as we love editorial pictures, bustling cafes, and iconic beaches, all of the above translates into trendy, expensive, and crowded. We lean more toward sarcastic, broke, and witty. More importantly, we are country folk at heart. I think Mitch is from some territory in Canada that has yet to be named where raccoons double as pets and hats, and I still have bow-legs from riding too many horses bareback through the California hills, while we shot guns from our hips and talked about freedom (‘Merica).
Regardless, Sydney is quite awesome if you have time on your hands and money in your wallet. When we first got here we had plenty of the first and acted like we had some of the second. Between distributing job resumes we rode the ferry like a sideshow pony, made it to some epic beaches for warm-water swimming and Budgie Smuggler-peeping, showered open-mouthed under a remote waterfall (after which I got the stomach flu), and got drenched head to toe multiple times after being caught in Sydney’s spur of the moment thunder storms. Minus the stomach flu, all of these voyages have been amazing and we are both yearning for more excursions, spanning a much farther distance.
We are in the process of making an OZ bucket list as our time here is now shorter than we anticipated. Mitch will be returning to firefighting in Northern Alberta this spring (to clarify, spring as North American seasons go) and I will be... Well, I am not too sure, but my passport just got renewed and it is looking a little too crisp. In the mean time, our goal in Sydney is to get cash in our wallets. That way, we can fund some more extensive exploring on this amazingly diverse continent before we make the trek back across the world. Byron Bay and The Great Barrier Reef rank especially high… we will have to prioritize (which we have never been good at) and come to some compromises (which we are trying to get better at). Our supposed Southeast Asia excursion will have to wait until another year.
Plans continue to change, but life would be a boring forfeit without curve balls and shitty umpires (i.e. Border Patrol employees). Who wants to read that story anyway, hey? So here we are enjoying the extra innings, soaking up sun, skin cancer, and slang, while being grateful for the mates we meet, the beers we can afford, and our moments together.
(photo credit: Mitchell Taylor)