So I've been pondering something lately that never really concerned me until just recently when I was reading a blog of a stranger that traveled down under almost exactly 2 years ago (yes, this might seem a bit sketchy, but it you post something publicly online, you can't be surprised when complete strangers start reading it. And it's not like I'm stalking him or something, so just relax.) Anyway, he mentioned that Aussies have a derogatory term for Americans- "seppos." Take a guess at where this comes from, but no googling. Go ahead, I'll wait...
No clue? So seppo is short for septic tank, which rhymes with yank, but which also implies that Americans are full of shit. Charming, no? And the "yank = tank" a bit of a stretch? I thought so too. Anyway, when I had first started dreaming about this trip in the late winter, I had emailed my dad's friend Jory, who had backpacked through Europe in the late eighties, for some tips. He had actually mentioned this "ugly American" viewpoint in his email back in February, but I noted it and thought that maybe it would be something I may have to overcome at some point in the trip, but it was nothing I thought about for long. Recently while talking to my dad about this issue, he just suggested I tell people I was Canadian to avoid the whole issue. Of course, I won't be doing that because, one, as soon as I do, I will be confronted by a real Canadian, asking where I live, why my accent has a distinct southern hint to it, and why I'm not insanely obsessed with hockey. That scenario will end like every B comedy movie where someone has been caught in a lie and tries desperately to escape the position, but is ultimately exposed for the faker they are (and more hilarity ensues). But also, and maybe it makes me an "ugly American" to say this, but, say I'm from Canada? Seriously?
In a book I just purchased after reading the introduction on Amazon, the author said to not be offended if Australians first ask if I'm from Canada. He said Australians do this to avoid offending Canadians, because apparently Canadians are more offended by being confused for Americans than Americans are for being confused as Canadians. It's just terrific that I've picked to be born at this time and come of age as the world no longer idolizes America but seems to hate our guts, but there's really nothing I can do about it. I don't know that this will even be an issue, but I guess I can only be myself (since I am not the typical tourist ignorant American) and show anyone that I meet and feels they need to put me down that I'm not who they think I am. Maybe I can change some minds about what people think they know. But, if worse comes to worse, I might pick a Canadian city, do some research, and practice that accent just in case.
On a good note, this ugly American has the seats I asked for on all flights to and from Australia! I requested window seating and got it for each stop round trip. I found this out, not because the itinerary says "window seat" but because I googled seating charts for each plane. I know that the LA to Sydney flight might be annoying because I will have to climb over 2 people to use the bathroom, but I will get to see Australia from above and I'm just glad I'm not in the middle. On the domestic flights, I have an A seat, either 21A, 45A, or 32A, depending on the flight, which means I'll be on the left side of the plane, if you're looking down from above. To and from Sydney, I will be in 55J, which looks like I will be on the right side. This picture is of the Boeing 777 that will be taking me down under and bringing me back. It's pretty massive, also note the enormous amount of room the snooty-snoots have in the "business elite" class.
In other developments, I ended up sending my boots back because I felt like a half size larger would be perfect. I was getting worried they were a little snug, and snug shoes is not something you want on a three month backpacking trip. So when I sent the boots back, they had 8.5, but by the time they received my boots to exchange, they were out of them and were not anticipating purchasing any more in the near future. So, after discussing my limited options with a sales person on the phone, I decided on another pair that were the same brand and type, but were a different color, not waterproof, and slightly higher topped. They're still cute, but I really was set on the other ones. I have had tons of gray shoes in the past and was trying to branch out. But they fit nicely and are my new addition. I also got my notebook today. It's the same one Salley has for Africa trip, but mine is royal blue. It's really cute and I can't wait until it gets here.
So yes, we've finally made it:
1 month until departure! I'm trying hard to not be overwhelmed and I keep reminding myself that, while I feel like I don't have enough time to plan and do things I need to do, I will have a full week and a half of no work before I actually leave. I still have a lot to wrap my mind around before my plane is touching down in Sydney (including that, upon further research, it is going to be much colder up until about November than I had originally thought/planned for) but I am getting more and more excited by the day!