Location: Canberra, Australia
Timeline: Week 4 in Australia
We’ve survived another week in Oz! Let me tell you about it…
Sunday morning we were invited to brunch with one of Chris’ coworkers. We arrived at 10:30 AM and expected to be there a couple of hours. However, when the daughter left to go to field hockey practice she said, “I won’t be back until 2:00, but I am sure you all will still be here.” Chris and I exchanged surprised glances. It would seem Australians expect longer visits than Americans. Sure enough we stayed until 2:00 PM, but it was a warm welcoming visit. They were terribly friendly. They sent us away with a GPS and skillets (called frying pans) because we needed those items. They kept trying to give us more stuff as we were walking out the door. Australians are a friendly bunch!
This Monday was very much like last week’s. Lizzy and I swam in the pool, ate lunch, and then went to my YMCA fitness class. Lizzy played by herself for almost my entire class and didn’t even pitch a fit when a little boy kept crawling over, stealing her pacifier, and crawling away. We then made our way back to the hotel and waited for Chris. We waited and waited and waited. He finally showed up at 7:45 pm when Lizzy and I were exhausted of one another and clamoring for someone else’s attention. Chris got mauled when he walked in the door.
That evening, after Lizzy was put to bed, Chris and I sat down to watch our one episode of Downton Abbey for the night. As Chris was getting water in the kitchen, I heard a curse word. I can always tell the severity of the issue based on the word he chooses. “Darn” may mean he dropped his pencil while something more obscene might mean he needs a bathroom right away. I could tell by this word that it was serious. It was time I suppose. We’ve been in Australia for over 3 weeks. It was time to meet a poisonous creature. In this case it was a somewhat large and ominous looking spider. We had been told by locals that, while they try to avoid killing most spiders, they always kill the red backs and the white tips because they are poisonous. Sure enough, this spider had a white tip. A Google search of this spider will tell you that a bite causes itchiness, swelling, burning, and skin discoloration. It may also cause necrotizing arachnidism basically meaning that your skin might die and fall off. Chris and I stared at it a moment unsure what to kill it with since it was pretty big. Chris decided to nudge it with a newspaper and sent it skittering in my direction. Then it was my turn to use a curse word. Luckily Chris came to my rescue and beat it to death with a paper towel. That, ladies, is why you get married.
On Tuesday I told the YMCA mums about my brush with death and the white tip spider. Their reply was, “Oh those things are everywhere. Just wait until you see a Huntsman.” I timidly asked, “What’s a Huntsman?” Becky answered, “They are huge! My Dad once found one in the house and he tried to catch it with a 4 liter (1 gallon) ice cream container, but the legs didn’t fit!” I Googled “the Huntsman” and I saw what she meant. I have included a photo below for your benefit. Their venom doesn’t appear to be particularly dangerous to humans, but that doesn’t matter. I would kill myself tripping over furniture while trying to get away from it. I can’t imagine how they get into your house. I suppose they can just open the front door.
That evening I attended another mum’s exercise event at a warehouse full of trampolines! It looked like so much fun until I started doing it. Jumping for an hour is exhausting! No wonder gymnasts are so skinny. But it was great doing it with a bunch of other mums who liked to complain about pelvic floor muscles and urinary incontinence and generally got the whole group tickled.
Wednesday afternoon Lizzy and I visited a little attraction with miniature buildings and lovely gardens called Cockington Green Gardens. The owners have built miniature reconstructions of famous buildings and surrounded them with lush gardens. It was a little silly, but pretty and a great outing for me and Lizzy together. Chris was not heartbroken to miss it. I think Lizzy and I saw a total of 8 other people there the entire time. The gardens had a little train that ran around the perimeter so you could see everything and at one point they had mini statues of Disney characters like Mickey, Minnie, and Donald and then there was Speedy Gonzales, Elmer Fudd, and Daffy Duck. It would seem the Australians don’t really differentiate between the various franchises. I have actually noticed this in other places. I’m also going to go out on a limb and say that the gardens do not have the rights necessary to display those statues. On Friday Lizzy and I returned to the zoo with another Australian friend (Jenny) and her daughter (Nadia). I am so impressed by how many people here are willing to welcome us into their lives and take time out to visit with us even though we will be leaving.
Australia has a lot of positives, to be sure, but Chris and I have noticed one big difference from America. Like the British, Australia has never gotten on board with the whole “straight, white teeth phenomenon” that hit America. Don’t get me wrong. Australians, on the whole, are better looking than the British. I used to worry about other girls when Chris would tour with his band, Suburban Legends, in the UK, but he would remind me, “You have nothing to worry about. All of the girls out here are British.” Whew. Anyway, the Australians seem to have more of the…err….British teeth, which is really a shame. An orthodontist with some teeth bleaching kits could make a fortune out here.
One policy we are loving in Australia is that every item for sale must be priced with the entire amount. What I mean is, if you see something for sale for $5.00, then you will walk up to the cashier and pay $5.00 and walk out of the store. All taxes and such are included in the sticker price. I was surprised the first time I purchased something and I could pay with a single bill. Also, most items are priced in increments of full dollars or fifty cents so we rarely have large quantities of change floating around.
Today (Saturday) we visited the Canberra Arboretum. Like most places in Canberra, the Arboretum boasted a lovely playground for children and Lizzy met her Australian “boyfriend,” Tobias. Chris seemed a little bored with the Arboretum, but I don’t know what he was expecting. It’s basically a tree museum. But, it was a nice place to visit for a bit.
One last note for the day. I’ve told you all about the different terms out here for various items and some seem funny to us. Well, it turns out that in Australia the term “fanny” means something very different. While we think it may mean like a persons rear, well, Australians use that term to describe another part of the female anatomy. Suffice it to say, they think the term “fanny pack” is hilarious.