|Australia: Upside down and precisely opposite.
Eye Guy is seated next to me in our business class seats somewhere over
the Pacific Ocean. We left Portland, Maine nearly twelve hours ago
and we have an equal amount of time remaining before we land in Sydney.
The cabin is dark and our fellow passengers hide under complimentary sleep
masks. Eye Guy and I are playing Monopoly on his laptop. I
own Boardwalk and Park Place.
A doctor warned me against this journey just days before my departure.
I am in the middle of a diagnostic process to determine what causes my
continued abdominal pain and lack of appetite. Every test is both
inconclusive and expensive. Each test requires another test.
First Doctor: "Hmmmm...this could be a number of things, but I
suspect you may be looking at cancer. I'll schedule you to see a
specialist in two weeks time."
Cancer? And I have to wait two weeks to find out?
Second Doctor: "Hmmmm...yes, this could be cancer, but it could
be something else. I'll schedule you for some tests, but the earliest
we can see you is a month out."
Cancer? Another four weeks?
And so, I flew to Australia.
Eye Guy lands on hotel-laden Boardwalk. Deafened by his earphones,
he screams "FUCK!" into the silent airline cabin.
If I'm going to have cancer, I want to endure it someplace warm, exotic,
and full of men who speak English with an accent.
We land in Sydney almost twenty four hours after leaving Maine, but
the turning of the earth and the smell of the passengers makes it nearly
two days later. A Sikh immigration officer says "G'Day, and welcome
People emigrating from England long ago went two directions. The
uber-religious traveled west to the United States to find religious freedom,
establish the Republican Party, and attach patriotic magnetic ribbons to
their cars. The criminal elements were shipped east to Australia
where they worked at hard labor, made public brawling into a national sport
called footie, and turned the stuff left over from beer making into
a sandwhich spread called vegemite.
Everything is reversed in Australia. The cars drive on the opposite
side of the road; it is summer here and winter in Maine; and, in Australia,
Hasselhoff is a pop idol who sings
to capacity audiences and hawks Pepsi from bus station ads.
We check into our hotel and wander downtown. Eye Guy spots a Starbuck's
Coffee and demands we stop. While Eye Guy forages for coffee, I watch
Bunny giving Christmas greetings to children at a department store
across the street.
fairy princess holding a plastic reindeer lawn ornament is asking Australian
children what they want for Christmas. The temperature is nearly
100 degrees (37 C) and I am checking out her pancake makeup to see if she
is sweating. She isn't. Maybe she really is a fairy princess.
we rent a car and head west into the Australian Outback.