Monday, November 22, 2010

Christmas Craft Shows, Cyclones, and Crocodiles

Yesterday I spent almost the entire day in my room. I know that sounds incredibly lazy, but I think sometimes it has to be done, especially when you have been traveling constantly for 2 and a half months. I g-chatted with my grandmother, then my mother, and also Matt for several hours in the morning. Matt was lounging in the New Zealand executive lounge at the airport, sucking down free alcohol and chowing on free food. He told me he could think of no one else he would rather be doing this trip with, which was a very nice thing for him to say, then ruined by saying that he would end up fighting with anyone else, and he said there is still a possibility of that happening with us. I think we will be fine. I have had issues on trips with him in the past, a particular camping trip comes to mind, but there was a group dynamic at play there, and there were three boys ganging up on me mercilessly for four days, so it ended not so neatly. But yea, anyway, we will be fine! He should be landed by now, but I have no way of knowing because this sh*thole of a place's wireless has crapped out on me, despite the fact that I am paid up for two additional days I will not be here to even use the internet. So I hope he's not emailing me or trying to gchat, it's not happening tonight.

I am happy to report that today was a pretty productive day, at least in comparison to yesterday. I got up and got pretty (meaning I dressed in something besides shorts and a tank top and put makeup on) for the first time in probably 2 weeks or 3 weeks. I called a cab and was taken to the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. It was on my itinerary because it was free, but Bryson had gone there and written about it in his book as well. When I arrived, the craft fair was in full swing. I selected to go today specifically to be killing these two birds with one stone. I realized I didn't have any cash on me, and the atm I spotted was out of order, so I was safe from spending any actual money at the fair. I did spot a couple of booths that had some nice handmade jewelry that would have made lovely Christmas presents, but I am sure I will find plenty to buy in Sydney. I walked around and examined the offerings in the heat until I had decided I had sweated enough. I entered the museum and started in the Aboriginal art and artifact exhibit. You aren't allowed to photograph anything in the exhibit, but it was interesting to see the various art creations and ceremonial artifacts. After the Aboriginal exhibit, I moved on to the rest of the museum, which contained lots of stuffed specimen of various beautiful and deadly Australian animals. In one area of the animal exhibit, there was a display containing all the various poisonous and deadly snakes, bugs, fish, including the box jellyfish and the blue ringed octopus. The exhibit that probably had the biggest impact on me though was the exhibit containing information and artifacts from Cyclone Tracy. Photographs of destroyed neighborhoods was very reminiscent of Katrina. There were pictures of twisted metal and houses on top of cars. But Darwin handled their disaster with much more thought and action. There was immediate martial law, and a mass evacuation of the city to reduce disease and looting. The goal was to get the population below 10,000 within 5 days. There were organized road blocks in which paperwork had to be filled out and presented to get in or out of the city, in order to keep tabs on how many people had been moved. It was quite a feat, and definitely something we should have studied to handle our disaster. The most dramatic part of the exhibit was a recording made by a Bishop in the town that night. You could hear the wind ripping through the town, tearing buildings apart and dragging metal along the ground for expansive distances. It was amazing to witness the awesome power of nature in photographs but also auditory evidence. Another highlight of the museum was the stuffed crocodile named Sweetheart. Sweetheart died when people trying to move him to a crocodile farm were unable to dislodge him from a log and he drowned. He was being moved because although he had never attacked a human, he had a tendency of going after the motors and propellers of boats. I also learned the huge bats I saw the morning were not vampire bats, but probably fruit and insect eaters, meaning I was safe from the blood sucking and the romance.

I think I have been going a little crazy in this hostel as well. Certain environments make me feel like I am beginning to lose it. I think all the overgrown plants make me feel a little claustrophobic. And now that I had a day without roomies, I felt more welcome to talk to myself, but I have begun to incorporate numerous voices, haha. I think it's a good thing I am flying out to Alice tomorrow.

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