I'm in Adelaide! I landed yesterday, and after some set backs regarding spilt detergent and transportation (I bought a ticket for a shuttle, and then wasn't allowed entrance onto it. I got a refund), I was able to figure out what buses I was supposed to take to end up at the North Adelaide library to partake in free wifi. I ended up only having to pay $4.80 for a trip that would have been upwards of $60 bucks if I hadn't kept reminding myself that setbacks are part of the journey and adventure and restrained myself from hailing a taxi. It took me about an hour from when I decided I was busing, mainly because I had to wait n several different buses, and kept annoying bus drivers by asking if I was on the right bus and point to maps of where I was trying to ultimately go (uh, screaming "tourist"). But I did finally make it to the library. I would have usually walked a little more and explored, but it was an awful rainy day and I had all my luggage and was quickly being tired of being easily identified as a backpacker. I was only at the library about an hour when Sarah called me and told me she could pick me up. We went to her house on the outskirts of Adelaide, about a 20 minutes drive in rush hour traffic. She lives in this house with her father Roger, brother Sam, his French-Canadian girlfriend Marie, and two Cats- Molly and Max. The house is very quaint four bedrooms and one bath, two living areas, a kitchen, a washroom. It's one of those houses that has connecting doors from each room to the other, so you can literally circle throughout the house. We all talked a while and waited for her friend Toni to come over and go to dinner with us. Haha, oh dinner. So Sarah had been preparing me for my dinner since about the time I got into her car at 4:30. She began mentioning this thing called an "AB," which she said was chips (french fries) with meat on top and tomato sauce (ketchup), garlic sauce and barbecue sauce drizzled over top. She said it was delicious and she hadn't had one in ages, but if I wasn't keen on it, we could make dinner at home. Feeling adventurous and calling on the when in Rome cliche, I said I would love to join them for ABs. I later made the mistake of asking what an AB stood for. "It stands for after birth, because that is what it looks like," she said. "But it's so good." Not the most promising name for a culinary creation. Her brother later was arguing with her that it wasn't after birth, it was abortion, which throws in a whole 'nother level of controversy and loveliness. We were still discussing the name at dinner, and I suggested we ask the creators, surely they would know what the "AB" stood for. They told us it was AB for Atomic Bomb, which I was hoping wasn't forecasting the later dietary result of consuming the dinner. We bought two of them because each one is supposed to feed 1-2 people. We got one with barbecue sauce and one without because Sarah prefers without. She treated Tammy, Marie, and I to the first round of the ABs. I have to say, despite the appearance and name, it was actually quite good. Definitely only for certain occasions, and would definitely qualify as "drunk food" as well. Sarah, Marie, and I decided we wanted a little more, so I bought another, this time requesting half with BBQ, half not. The counter attendant seemed surprised four girls cleaned up 2 ABs and were asking for a 3rd. "They sneak up on you," he warned me. "I think we can handle it," I said. And we had no problem finishing the second.
We went back to the house, on the way discussing minimum wage differences between the two countries, wait staff, and fast food. At home, we continued chatting, discussing politics from each country, being careful not to get too much into personal policies, although I think I could figure out where everyone seemed to stand. We discussed what happened in the 2000 election (I explained even America is still confused about that one) and I explained how much disgusting pull that lobbies have on policies and laws passed. We somehow started talking about TV and television ads, and watched some of what they thought were the best of Australian ads on youtube. I finally asked them my burning question: what is the deal with fairy bread? "Uh, it's the best thing ever." said Tammy, as if that would wrap up the issue for me. "Ok, but it's just bread, butter, and hundreds and thousands?" I asked. "Yes! It's delicious!" they said. I decided I should try it, and they have been encouraging me to give Vegemite another whirl as well. We went to bed around midnight. I have my own room! With my own double bed! And I didn't pay a cent!
Today I am exploring Adelaide. I had to catch buses into the city, nervously navigating where I am supposed to be and what I am to pay. The bus drivers were nice though, and answered my questions. I got off at the first stop in the city near the zoo. I decided if it was $23 or under, I would go. I walked through part of Adelaide University campus to get there. It's lovely with lots of trees and nice old buildings, looks vaguely like UNC, except in the middle of a big city and with less open quads. I got to the zoo- $28.50. It was a no go. I walked back up through the university, stopping to watch students and pretend I was in school. I figured I was passing- dressed down, with a backpack and iPod. I really do miss school. I miss the unstructured nature of it. I mean, I did have a schedule as far as classes went, but other than that, it was my time. And until a month ago, I had schedules, and errands, and responsibilities just about every waking minute since I had 2 jobs, a volunteer commitment, and housesitting. Now, I have nothing but my time. And it is so lovely.
I spent the day wandering around the city. I went to the free Adelaide Museum, mostly because it was free. I spent the better part of the day exploring the middle of the city- the mall area. There always seems to be public performers in big open spaces like malls. I was debating whether or not to tip him, but when I emerged from the Vodafone shop (after buying yet another recharge less than two weeks after the first), he was playing Learn to Fly by the Foo Fighters. Ok, I will toss you a couple of bucks, which is easier to do in Australia since the buck and the 2 buck are coins. I made my way back to the home by bus, somehow finagling my way into another free ride on the second bus. After dinner, I went with Marie to watch Sam play volleyball. They were very good, and it made me miss volleyball so bad. Boys in America are bad at volleyball, hitting it in very unusual and ungraceful ways. But these guys were good.
I don't want to not acknowledge Monday and pretend like it didn't happen, because of course it did, and there were a couple of notable things that occurred, but as I drift farther away from it, I have less and less desire to write about it. So I will at least give you the outline of what we did that day and how I felt about it. We first stopped for a wine and cheese tasting. The wine was nice, as was the cheese, but the people that own and work at the vineyard seemed distant. I thinks it's because they knew we wouldn't be buying anything. We went to a chocolate factory next. It was amazing, especially compared to Cadbury's factory. A solid chocolate statue of The David, a painting of The Scream made from chocolate, a chocolate waterfall, a ton rick of chocolate, a robot that feeds you chocolate, and a make-your-own chocolate machine. It was pretty sweet. Next we went to a koala park. This was mostly just more walking around snapping pictures of koalas way up in trees, until I came upon a crowd- which means either someone is hurt or something very cool is happening. It was a mother koala with the cutest baby clinging to her side. She was walking along the railing of the walkway, so close that we could reach out and touch her. We all frantically snapped identical pictures, one after another. It was definitely a cool thing to see. We then went to the Nobbies (it seems everything in Australia has cute names). These are rocks in the water. It was breeding season for the gulls, so picture thousands of screaming gulls with their chicks as far as the eye can see. We walked around, trying to spot a penguin, but only finding one being unsocial in his hole. I walked the stretch of the boardwalk, just praying the showers of gull poop would miss me. Finally, around sun-down, we went to the Phillip Island viewing platform to see the penguins come in at night. I have to say, I was disappointed. I was expecting wave after wave of penguin, I mean, they call it a penguin island parade for god's sake. It was like maybe 30ish penguins, that came out gradually. I was more disappointed in the humans around me. They were bickering about seating and fighting over whether or not they were allowed to be taking pictures. And some were wanting to touch the penguins. It made me wish they would just close the park and let the penguins come home in peace. Uhg, humans.