Australia, 2007 Journal: Part 2

14 Apr 07

-I did in fact wake up in time. I felt a bit hung over but not too nauseous, thanks be to God. I checked in as Ben Turner and apparently I was in a group with another person according to Qantas’s system. As it turns out, I had bought the ticket as Victor. There was another Ben Turner on the flight! I have seen a good deal of Turners in Adelaide’s and Melbourne’s rolls of fallen soldiers.

-Security at Melbourne is so nice and polite. No police-state-like threats from the TSA over intercom. You don’t have to take your shoes off. The workers are not low-skill, low-wage grumpy people with no counter-terrorist skills or training looking for terrorists. These people help you smile, and know how to care for people.

-Had a cherry chocolate cookie on the flight. Two-and-a-Half-Men, a proud US export, was on TV.

-Arrived in Adelaide, took $25 cab ride to downtown with an Iranian who lived near the border with Iraq.

-Dropped my bag and walked through Rundle Mall, full of shops, and over to one of the universities where there was a rail station and skateboard park. Unlike the US, Australia seems to encourage skateboarding with numerous parks. Moppy-haired gangs ride up-and-down the streets.

-I’ve sort of picked up Aussie intonation, raising my voice at the end of sentences which seems to sound more polite.

-Checked in, room is hot and drab. Local TV channels only. No free wifi, requires plug-in CAT5 + $20 for 24 hours. Blah, what a rip. $4/hour from the lobby.

-Went to Jerusalem Sheesh Kabob for dinner. Owner was a Palestinian who was short but stocky, with a gut and long hair, with a blue sweat band on his forehead. He understood my Arabic but insisted on English. Said he’d lived in Zirqa, Jordan (this is a poor city where Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi lived.) Had a lamb yiro (his spelling) with chips (fries) and hummus.

-Adelaide is smaller and warmer. Messier in a way. Has a reputation for boring, old architecture from young people who approve of a proposed skyscraper design downtown. Older types disapprove. Tourists are easy to spot as the people are less eclectic. There is a Chinatown, lots of Asians.

15 Apr 07

-Slept until 7ish but took my time, leaving room at 10, when most historical buildings open.

-Went to Tandanya, a gallery of Aboriginal paintings, some for sale. Saw very colorful canvases picturing artists’ drawings (representations of their, say, patron animal or thing) and songlines (topographical map of one’s territory through song). The best had faint outlines of spirits in the background and the typical pointillisme of songlines and campsites and landmarks superimposed over it. Met Lou and Ben, both of whom worked there and may be gay. They were pretty cool; Lou is going to spend a year with Quakers in New York.

-Then watched a man from Thursday Island (part of islands north of Australia, south of Papua New Guinea. He taught us a dance which we performed to song. “We” being me and a young German couple Vannessa and Wolfgang. The old man was named Eddie. He showed us the ceremonial dancing dress and headdress. Pushed hard for us to visit his islands. Teaches class in dance at the uni. Seemed to have been raised after, as he admits, missionaries stopped much of their cultural traditions. He was raised without learning much of his people. Says about 30-40k people in his islands, total!

-Wolfgang and Vannessa were very nice, spoke decent English. Engineering students. Second time to Oz, heading up to Darwin, the most northern city. All cities for the most part are along Australia’s coasts. I taught them “y’all”. They were very interesting and interested.

-The Australian economy is being lauded in the news. Record highs, very low unemployment, AUD rallying to 0.83 vs. USD. I have 100% of my investments in international markets right now while the US stagnates.

-By the end of my trip, I should have a Dreaming and songline.

-Perhaps my project could graphically display peoples’ songlines.

-Met a guy from Nepal who owns a gift store and restaurant: “Sagarmatha”, the name for Mount Everest. Very smart. Studied “international relations” and reads business books. I bought some wood blocks from him.