Monday, March 10, 2008

This Might be Paradise

It's 11:45am Monday morning, and I've just returned from a walk to the river with Liz. Liz and Paul are hosting me for the first 3 nights and have been so welcoming and wonderful. On our walk, a king parrot flew up from the ground in front of us into a tree. She was a young one, all green with a blazing red chest and belly.

It is so green here, and warm! Breakfast was out on the patio in our barefeet, something we won't be able to enjoy at home for eons. A nice surprise after breakfast was a Skype conversation with Michael, I could see him and Simon in the kitchen.

There's a butcher bird here in their backyard, which backs up to a golf course; Liz was tossing it bits of food that it caught mid-air. Just saw 2 beautiful parrots, as well, at their feeder ... they rather put our cardinals to shame!

One day in, and we've already met so many wonderful people. Our flights were fine, and I must say Tylenol PM is a wonder - I slept more than I imagined I would on the second leg and arrived feeling excited and ready to explore. All our luggage arrived with us, which is always a good thing! We were greeted and driven off in a small bus to brunch at Bohemian Cafe in Coogee, a beach town. We had some coffee and eggs, and Mina tried Vegemite on toast, which may be an acquired taste.

It was presentation day for the nippers, swimming groups for children who go up through the ranks to be life savers one day if they choose, they were all in their swimmers and caps, receiving medals.

After brunch, drove to Bondi Beach, which did something to our airplane-squashed souls: we kcked off our shoes and headed for the water. Pete and Amy Beth had a race, and Pete's quote of the day is 'I've never seen anyone run so fast in my life! She was a cheetah, a gazelle ...' I have a photo of the race I will try to post soon, but we all landed in the water and got a little bit wetter than planned when a large wave snuck up on us while our picture was being taken, but we didn't care! We were in Australia, getting soaked in the Tasman Sea! Life is good! After splashing around a bit, we walked from the beach to Tamarama (i think i'm missing a few syllables, will have to check that later), which, when I first saw the sign, I didn't realize was the name of the town, I thought it was a tanorama, doh. Anyway, it was a lovely barefoot walk along the sea with lovely overlooks and rocks carved smooth by the wind and water. One bloke was doing a very good impression of shark bait, swimming far, far out to sea by himself. It's only safe to swim between the flags of the life savers, because that area is 'fenced in' with netting to keep out the nasties. Good luck to that guy ...

We saw some cricket being played, but I'll need another explanation before that game makes sense.

On the drive to the mountains, we stopped at Dover Heights and scrambled up a hill to - gasp - a stunning overlook from which we could see Sydney below us. There was the Opera House, there was the Harbor Bridge, there was everything needed to confirm that somehow, after sitting on our backsides for days and not doing anything of noticeable effort beyond surviving a long flight, we had indeed landed in Australia. Wow! Beautiful. At least a few people began thinking right then that moving to Oz might be a very good idea.

Took lots of photos. There are loads of dogs here, and Amy Beth met a puppy. Then back into the van to the mountains, over the Anzac bridge, past the soldier guarding its entrance, and up, up and away. Fun fact: here they say bush bashing, not bush whacking for wandering through the woods : )

Breakfast really is brekky, but people have pointed out that with all the American media, we basically speak the same.

We arrived at the Cooks' home, where Steve is staying, and enjoyed tea and snacks until 3, when we had a meeting about the program.

Oh! Have to go now, off to the caves, etc. More later!

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