Two and a half weeks.
That’s how long I lasted in Australia before something tried to kill me.
It wasn’t the spiders or snakes, their fangs laden with lethal poison. It wasn’t the sharks or crocodiles, their jaws capable of crunching bones and tearing through flesh. It wasn’t the jellyfish, their tentacles stretching up to six feet.
It was the birds.
Plain, ordinary birds.
Warren and I were walking back from whale-watching when suddenly, we noticed two plovers flying in front of us. Then they got closer, and even closer still. It finally clicked: they weren’t flying towards us; they were flying at us.
They shrieked and squawked. Their eyes spelled murder. Death was in the air.
We had stumbled upon a nesting ground.
We panicked and ran to safety, only now, one thing was missing: our sunglasses. They lay tantalizingly close in the grass, prisoners of our feathered foes. We tried edging closer, only to endure one winged assault after another.
They weren’t going to make it easy.
In an act of equal parts folly and courage, Warren made a mad dash into the fray and scooped up his shades. Mine were nowhere to be seen.
I tried looking a few more times, to no avail. Each time, I was greeted by an aerial attack. These birds weren’t messing around. By the end, I was ready to give up and call it a day. To the victors go the spoils, as they say. Finally, a woman nearby took pity and calmly walked over, plucked my sunglasses from the ground and handed them to me. She said she’d finished having a good laugh and decided to put me out of my misery.
I walked away with my sunglasses that day, but my pride is still somewhere in the grass.
Tales from the road:
1. One of the hardest things about being away from home? Missing out on the Blue Jays’ playoff run. (For a fan born in the 90s, the novelty of writing “Blue Jays’ playoff run” still hasn’t worn off. I don’t know if it ever will.)
2. Vegemite isn’t all that bad. I’d tried tasting it before and detested it, but this time, I was offered a piece of toast with vegemite, and it kind of, sort of worked. The trick is in spreading it thinly — too much, and the toast is ruined.
3. It’s funny how many of the same people we’ve been running into as we make our way up the coast. In Coffs Harbour, we saw the same two guys from British Columbia that we befriended in Newcastle. Now in Byron Bay, we ended up at the same hostel as our old roommate from Sydney and another friend from Coffs Harbour, and we’re just down the road from two other friends we made back in Port Macquarie. Something tells me this won’t be the last time it happens.
Things I’ve seen:
1. Port Macquarie’s coast.
It seems to go on forever. We walked nearly 20 kilometres and barely scratched the surface. Port Macquarie is spoiled with beaches, too: we passed at least seven different beaches on our walk.
They’re almost impossibly cute. One thing they don’t tell you in the Australian tourism ads: a surprisingly large number of them have chlamydia. Scientists believe it was spurred by living in close proximity to humans, due to the animals’ loss of habitat.
3. Visions of home.
Another of the hardest things about being away from home? Missing out on Thanksgiving. Warren and I had been planning on cooking our own Thanksgiving dinner, Aussie-style — searing some kangaroo steaks instead of turkey. As luck would have it, we didn’t have to. We ran into some fellow Canadians prepping their own Thanksgiving dinner for the following night, and just like that, we were invited to join the feast. In the end, we had it all: turkey, stuffing, potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, salad… even pumpkin pie from scratch. We sat down for dinner with Canadians from all over, and others who got to experience their first “Canadian Thanksgiving.” It was a night I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
What I’m reading/listening to:
Jon Ronson – Out of the Ordinary
Anderson .Paak feat. Rapsody – “Without You”
Nas – “Cherry Wine”
Frank Ocean – Blonde