Sunday, July 18, 2010
How do you like your crocodile meat?
Random writing as I sit on the Ghan train from Darwin to Alice Springs.
I am very happy to be here for various reasons of chaos and confusion. We have, by now, made so many mini-trips, and consequently repacked our bags to store one half of our luggage and take just a few overnight bags, and then returned, preferring to keep the dirty washing together, that any order or searchability has long gone.
So far I know I have lost one blue hat from Panama (taxi) and my sunglasses twice, but the glasses turned up at in both cases, just lost long enough for a good morning of anxiety. I haven’t seen my Bali phone in a while, which is gnawing at me.
We returned late from our three day trip to Kakadu park at the Top End of Australia and as my husband picked up the rest of the luggage we had left in storage, I managed with all the confusion of being thrown out of our bus with our mini-bags, which were half open and overflowing, to leave behind my husbands toiletries bag, which included his glasses and only pairs of contact lenses. He can’t see much without them.
The next morning we had to catch the Ghan train at 9 am and the office of the tour operator didn’t open until then. We still hadn’t eaten at 9.30 p.m. and the children were hyperactive, fighting for the top bunk. We were staying in a family room of a cheapish hotel on the outskirts of town, where the phone didn’t get connected unless you paid a deposit beforehand and you would be thrown out for drinking alcohol on the premises.
The end of the story is not as climatic as you might hope, and does not truly reflect the excitement of the evening. Emergency numbers were called on Skype (at least we managed to get onto the internet), Corona beer spilled on the shiny bedspread, Thai take-away eaten on saucers at 10.30 at night, which, we all agreed, was rather good.
In the morning we heard the bag had been found and could be picked up at 7. Allard jogged into town and arrived back, with no minutes to spare, to leave for the train station, where amazingly we were all there - in the reservations system.
So here we are.
The Australians in Kakadu park lived up to their Crocodile Dundee reputation, joking about American tourists, their wives and vegetarians.
Crocodile skewers, buffalo sausages and kangaroo steak, one of the other or a combination of all three was on the menu all nights. Both kids loved it.
In the morning, fluffy white bread, toasted, with jam or vegemite.
We stayed in permanent tents at Sandy Billabong campsite, a popular one, where, several years ago, a German backpacker was eaten by a crocodile, after she and a few others decided to take a midnight dip.
Bump, bump. Bump we went down the sandy road in our four wheel drive, “Thrill me” written on the side in big green letters, bump bump, bump, before finally arriving at the parking place to join the forty other four wheel drive adventure tour buses, promising a unique and exciting adventure at the Top End.
The land and sights made up for not being off the beaten 4 wheel drive path. Swimming at Jim Jim falls and Maguk Plunge pool, after clambering over rocks and boulders to get there, were my favorite. The idea that most of this land is covered by a few meters of water during the wet season is hard to comprehend.
We saw fat crocodiles in the wetlands.
On the way back to Darwin, we stopped at a roadside bar, where men with bushy white beards, wide brimmed hats, khaki shirts, khaki hot pants and big booted hairy legs, leaned casually against the bar.
Real men. We saw them too. Alas, no photographic evidence.
Now to Alice Springs, where it can get down to freezing point at night. More kangaroo steak awaits us.
S3, I will be scouring the desert for ice cream stands.