It was made pretty official yesterday morning- I have been attacked by bedbugs!
The night before, Matt started compulsively checking his covers after finding the shedded skin of an insect and immediately assuming the worst. I googled frantically for about 30 minutes, learning all sorts of gruesome details about bed bugs. I had been waking up with a growing number of bites on me, but I had been calling them mosquito bites. But now I had a nice string of them across my neck and the bottom of my face, and they were horribly identical to the bites I was witnessing online. I searched my bed, but could find no evidence of what I had been told to search for in the articles online. It was also possible that the bugs were in the pillow, which would make sense seeing as I was bit only on my neck, face, and upper arms. We didn't know what to do. We were making this conclusion around 11pm, and reception was closed. We figured we would have to sleep in that room tonight, but the thought of just turning in as normal and offering another night of feasting was something I was not willing to do. I tucked in the covers tightly on my bed and threw my pillow in the floor. I wore a long sleeve shirt and long pants, tucking the legs into my socks. I slept with my head at the other end of the bed, and used my towel as a blanket. I didn't sleep soundly, and woke many times because I was cold, but I didn't appear to have new bites in the morning.
We were checking out to go to Uluru, and I was struggling with how to tell the manager he had bed bugs. Matt went to get our hire car while I finished getting ready. I kept practicing in my head what to say. I had to tell them or they might stick us right back into the same room on Sunday, and there was no way I could take that. Once Matt returned, we loaded the car and I took the key back inside to check out. I walked up to the counter and didn't even have to ring the bell. The male manager came out from the back and suddenly it came to me how to handle it; the age-old, tried and true, guaranteed method that has worked for women for ages- play dumb and let the man make the conclusion. I handed him the key and asked if there was anything I need to sign. He said everything was in order. I took a deep breath. "I just wanted to let you know about this. I don't know if I'm allergic to the detergent used in the sheets or if there was a mosquito in the room, but I have woken up and had this on me"- with that, I turned my head, lifted my hair, and offered my neck and face. "You got this from last night?" he asked. "Well, I had been noticing a growing number of bites on me, but these on my face weren't here until I woke up yesterday." He examined them and said to me "You know what those look like? Those ones right there in a line look like bed bugs" You said it, not me, I thought in my head, but out loud said, "Oh, bed bugs. Ok, well, I just wanted to let you know about it. Thank you." He thanked me and I walked out to the car, successfully and softly telling the hotel manager he had a bed bug infestation in room 25.
We hit the highway and were horrified to realize the radio stations ended only about 2 minutes driving out of Alice springs. Matt offered to serenade, but I declined, and we spent a lot of the almost 5 hour trek talking about years past. The drive really went by quickly, and we happened to stop at the roadhouse that was at the intersection of the road leading to Uluru. So pulling out, I said "No, we need to go this way, see? Uluru, it points that way." Who knows how long we would have driven without realizing we were heading to Adelaide instead of Uluru. The roadhouse was the half way point and we soon came up on a massive shape in the distance. It towered on the left side of the car, and Matt quickly identified it as Uluru and chattered happily about how magnificent it was. I looked at it, bewildered as to why it looked nothing like the hundreds of pictured of Uluru I have encountered over the years. I waited and let us approach it more, but it's shape and color just got more and more wrong. I took my time disagreeing with Matt, I feel like I do it too often, and I don't know if I do it to entertain myself, or if he's just wrong all the time, haha. But I had to say it. "I don't think that's Uluru." "Of course it's Uluru! Are you telling me there are other massive rock formations out here? If it's not Uluru, what is it? It has to be Uluru!" he said. "It's not the right shape or color," I said. "It's nothing like any picture of it I've ever seen." "Maybe it's the other side of it," he says. "But it's not red," I say. "IT IS RED, LOOK AT IT, THAT'S RED!" I stare at the grey, flat topped mountain in the distance, and decide to just lay it all out there. "If that's Uluru, I am massively disappointed," I announced, making the conclusion we were not looking at Uluru, and if we were, ultimately ruining the entire trip by saying I was disappointed. We sat in silence a few minutes, surveying the rock as we came up on it, arguing slowly with one another in a distracted way. We passed a sign about Mt. Connor tours, and I said, "That is Mt. Connor, it's not Uluru." Matt quickly changed his tune- "We do have over 150 kilometers to drive before we are supposed to be there." "Then why would you think that was Uluru?!?" "Maybe you see it from that far away!..." The argument continues a little, but let the record show, Courtney was, once again, correct from the start.
We finally do come upon the real Uluru, and even from a distance, it is what it is supposed to be- brillant, magnificent, rounded, RED. We watch it as it starts far away and grows as we glide along the unusually green desert towards it ("It's never like this, we have had a huge amount of rain...") We do finally arrive at the resort area and turn in. I check in and receive the ticket for our dinner and stargazing that night. We drive down to the cabin and unload. The cabin is good- two bedrooms, and a little common room with a small kitchen and table and non-working TV. I get the room with the double bed because I'm the princess. We decide we need to eat something before we explore, so we begin driving around the resort. We finally park and wander through the maze that is the resort. We have a map, but signage is not good. We do eventually find a cafe and eat some sandwiches. I try to finish quickly because I am anxious to get to the rock, and also Matt eats so much quicker than me. We head back through the maze to the car and drive out to Uluru. We had both decided not to climb Uluru out of respect, but upon hearing there is a $25 park entry per person, Matt jokingly announces, "I am cimbing that thing! I paid $25!"
We drive closer and closer to the huge rust monolith in front of us, and as we approach, it becomes more and more clear that it's not a smooth as eveyone thinks it is. It's cracked, it's pitted, it has lines and holes running about it, giving it character from millions of year of erosion. We park near the path that leads to the summit climb. We had already decided we wouldn't be climbing, but it was closed for the afternoon anyway due to high winds. We began our walk along the side. It was overwhelming to look up and see how gigantic it was, and to imagine it would take nearly 5 hours to walk the circumference around it. We had to get ready to be picked up for our dinner at 6pm, so we only had time for a short walk, but planned on coming back the next day. We spent about an hour at the base before driving to a lookout a little farther away to take some distance pictures. Around 4:30, we drove back to our cabin and got ready. I took the best shower I have had in a while (the water pressure was UNBELIEVABLE for a public toilet at a camp ground) and got dressed up in a dress and make up. We were picked up from near the campground at 6pm. We rode in a coach to pick up others before heading onto a dirt road. We were unloaded onto a path and walked up a hill. At the top, we were handed a glass of champagne. Matt said the evening was beginning to feel like a murder mystery. "Like one of those dinner theater evenings?" I said. "No, like how the story line begins, random people, invited to dinner," he said. "So you think someone is going to die, is that what you're saying?" We mostly stood by ourselves and drank champange and talked about the possibility of mingling and talking to others. Wait staff walked around a fed us a bit occasionally- a small bit of bread with kangaroo and cream cheese, a smoked salmon scroll, etc. Eventually, we were called to continue on the path to our seats. We were seated at a table with two couples and three women. I spent most of the evening talking to the women- Sarah, Christine, and Linda. Christine and Linda knew each other, but Sarah had just met them tonight. Sarah was traveling from the UK. The other women were Aussies. We had a buffett dinner that included croc caeser salad, kangaroo, vegetables, barramundi, lamb, and unlimited wine. After dinner, we had a brief star presentation. This was an amazing sight. To see the night sky, so absent of light pollution, was something I am not sure I have ever experienced, and certainly not the southern hemisphere night sky. I saw some constellations that were dead ringers for our dippers, but when I asked about it after the presentation, I was told you could not see any of our constellations in this hemisphere. We eventually were loaded back onto our bus, where Linda mysteriously began calling Matt "Adrien" (Did I mention the limitless wine?) Christine and Linda convinced Adrien and I to join them at the pub, and we convinced Adrien to walking to the back of the bus and talking to a group of girls he'd been eyeing all night. He invited them to the pub too, then joined us again. We got off at the pub, got beers, and sat with Christine and Linda. We spent the evening talking and laughing, and eventually convincing Adrien to go again and speak to the girls. We eventually did all part ways with a hug, and I had to endure the walk home with Adrien proudly chattering on about how charming he had been, even though he had to almost be forced into talking to the girls, after all, as he told me, "I was the most egging of the on-ers!"
The next morning, I woke to my alarm at about 4:45am. We had set it the night before, we wanted to see Uluru at sunrise. I woke Matt, who was now definitely Matt again and not his alter ego, and we sleepily got woken up enough to drive out to Uluru. We were not the only ones with this plan, and ended up having to fight for position with some Germans for a good shot of the rock in it's red early morning brilliance. Matt got some shots, then said, "Let's go back to sleep." we drove back and slept about 2 more hours before checking out and beginning our journey back to Alice.