or "How To Eat A Meat Pie In A Confined Space"
06.06.2012 - 06.06.2012 9 °C
I had every intention of going out and finding a nice, fine-dining restaurant somewhere (not difficult here, the prices put McDonald's in that category by our standards) so I could feel important, if only for a while. But I was too worn out to feign any amount of pretentiousness (no comment thank you very much) so I decided to go down to Darling Harbour, which I have to say is - for some reason - my favourite place I visited in Sydney during my brief stint here. A nice chicken-veal with white wine and tarragon sauce, roasted garlic potatoes, and some monumentally bad service later, I retired to my final sleep in Sydney. And a restless one it was.
Soundtrack: Beside You In Time / Nine Inch Nails
After setting off Australian airport security for the second time in 3 days (coming in I discovered that Australian security classify a 4.5 inch fixed-blade hunting knife with a serrated edge and weighted handle as a "weapon" for some reason. Paranoids!) by accidentally leaving my tiny little wire-cutters in my carry-on instead of putting it back into my guitar case, which I checked into oversize baggage. These cutters made it through *TSA* screening for Pete's sake! Anyway, if anyone is looking for a Christmas present for me, I sure could use a tiny set of wire cutters for my guitar...
The take off wielded some spectacular views. As I left the overbearing and smothering warmth of Sydney hospitality behind (...) everything was put right as the lovely young lady beside me struck up a conversation. Just talking to someone in a normal friendly conversation about the country, why I'm here, where I'm from, etc. I think is maybe all I was looking for. She obviously wasn't from Sydney (that really isn't fair, I shouldn't generalize. All North Americans generalize for some reason).
The landscape I was treated to was unbelievable, I've never seen anything like it (thanks for stating the obvious, Mr. Stating The Obvious). The land went from endless crops, to endless yellow, to endless brown with black bits, to endless red with black bits that looked like a goliath burn-victim groomed with a wire comb. Dozens of lakes of all different colours scattered the land in all directions - blue ones with water, brown ones with...I guess brown water...and also massive yellow and red empty beds and dunes.
Then came lunch...the attendants come by with their cart, and I'm expecting some bag of dried kangaroo or beetles or something...but she hands me something that is wrapped in plastic that is shaped like a muffin or something. Except it's hot. Really hot. I then realize - it's a damned meat pie. And with this meat pie I was provided with: one (1) packet of ketchup (sorry..."tomato sauce"); and one (1) tiny napkin. I look around - no fork, knife, spoon, chop-sticks, nothing to eat this thing with. I then realize that the first day I was in Sydney when I indulged a beef+peppercorn pie from the local Pie Face outlet - which I took back to my hotel room and daintily ate with utensils - well, obviously I was doing it wrong. But for the life of me I'm now pondering why the national fast-food of this county is a gravy-filled pocket of pastry that is almost guaranteed to spill it's napalm-hot filling on you at least once as you eat it. OK, don't panic - I casually open the plastic and then pretend that I'm waiting for it to cool off. Very discreetly I angle my glance to my right to see how the nice young blonde lady beside me is tackling this challenge (trying desperately not to look like a real creep, watching her eat). I watch as she takes a couple of delicate nibbles off one side, opening a narrow slit in the pastry (ok good, got it so far) - she then proceeds to empty the ketchup (sorry, "tomato sauce") packet *into* the pie, and then start mowing down on this thing like it's a normal sandwich. She even slops on herself, and nonchalantly wipes herself with her single, tiny napkin. Now I'm thinking - why don't I fit in here better? I could get along in a country that is wandering around, everyone with their meat-pie stains on their shirts and pants. Maybe this isn't such a bad thing.
Touch down at Alice Springs airport, and disembark the 737 via roll-up stairs. Basically the terminals are a big parking lot for the planes - no joke, they were clearly marked with yellow lines that said 'parking'. Walking along the sunny pathway to the baggage claim, were were greeted with our welcome agent - the biggest, bulbous garden / desert spider I'm ever seen, casually sunning itself on the web it spun over the 'Welcome To Alice Springs" sign. It was just a garden spider, but like on steroids. I wish I got a picture but we were all walking in a rushed line and stopping to take a picture of a spider would have again secured my place as resident noob-douche-tourist.
Alice Springs is kind of like Kamloops. Except with palm trees. And no river beds with water in them. And cool trees I've never seen before. And birds that sound like car alarms. And carry-out limits at the liquor store. And it smells better. And I needed to pay 50c at the mall to get this:
...so I could use the restroom.
Soundtrack: The Trick Is To Keep Breathing / Garbage
Not much else to report; I'm anxiously awaiting what the coming days will bring. For those following along at home that aren't privy to all the details, tomorrow I pick up a campervan and start a massive road trip. Providing all goes according to plan, I will visit Uluru (Ayers Rock) tomorrow night, drive back to Alice to resupply, and then the following day will drive across the Tanami Desert, stopping at: the side of the road, Wolfe Creek National Park, and finally touching down in Broome on the Indian Ocean. A few things need to fall into place: the rental company needs to grant me permission to drive the Tanami Track - a ~1000 Km dirt road that cuts across the Northern Territory and Western Australia (which is almost a 900 Km shortcut otherwise). I'm sure I'll be able to charm them, no problem, just as I've charmed every other Australian I've met so far.
The other detail - I will (likely) not be posting for awhile, not until at least June 11th (for me, late 10th for you) when I reach Broome. Until then, thanks everyone for reading and I can't wait to regale you with more wonderful anecdotes of me embarrassing myself on the other side of the planet. If I don't post by, say, June 22 - well then I've decided to start my new life as a patrolman for the Dingo Fence - don't wait up. Peace out.
Soundtrack: Wayfaring Stranger / Ego Likeness (an excellent a cappella version of a traditional folk song - highly recommended) EDITED: "a cappella, not Acapulco..stupid...auto-spell...)