Exploring and Sampling

Today is our last at the AirBnB. Scott, the owner, has been so amazing and helpful through our first weeks here. We will be sad to leave his home in West End, but pleased to be in our own place.

We’ve had quite a bit of time over the past week to explore the city by foot and bicycle. We brought our bikes, and B’s repair stand and equipment, from home. This will be our main form of transportation while we are here.

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While it is refreshing to be liberated from reliance on a car, I must admit that my inner wimp is crying a bit. We found the steepest hill in town- maybe the steepest hill in existence. I didn’t get a photo because I was too busy pushing my bike up it and trying not to die. We also found multiple routes around the steeper hills in town. Fortunately, the topography is such that there are almost always ways around the suffering. Almost.

Yet, the vistas here are incomparable. Getting to the top of a hill and looking out to see a phenomenal landscape or cloud formation makes it worth every bit of sweat (and strings of creative profanity) to get there.

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I mean, have you ever seen clouds that look like these? What even makes that happen?

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Or THESE?!

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Speaking of beautiful… Merv took us down to Coolangatta for the afternoon a few days ago. It was magical! The water was pretty cold, but as crystal clear as promised. In up to my chest, I could still look down and see my feet. There were these tiny sand-colored fish that would dart around the bottom, managing to just outrun my toes while I bumbled around in the strong undertow. Shark Control Program (SCP) nets with red floaters are set to keep the sharks from coming too close to beachgoers.

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I’ve realized that I am not nearly as afraid of all the deadly things here as I thought I would be before we left. I think the hype might be invented just to scare off stupid Americans who come here with our big loud voices and trampling all over everywhere. I mean.. the created “Drop Bears” for that, right? Why not make some buzz about the real creatures here?

**btw- I am delighted that the Australian Museum actually has a page for Drop Bears. I LOVE this place.

Aside from exploring our environment, we’ve also been on a bit of a gustatory adventure. Last Saturday, O and I sampled some toasted crickets and cricket-flour energy bars at the Farmer’s Market. This week, we picked up some special “viper pepper” hot sauce and kangaroo jerky.

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The boys were a bit dismayed at our choice to get the kangaroo, but they didn’t try to make me feel guilty about breaking vegetarian for it. They know my policy is to always try a new and novel food when the opportunity presents itself. I encourage them to do the same- hence crickets (but not for X, who recoiled in disgust at the thought of it).

We did talk about the Australian policy of culling kangaroo herds– they are quite the pests here, I guess- and the benefits of consuming the meat rather than have it go to waste. I’m not sure they were sold on the idea, but at least they understood.

They did go in for Vegemite, though! We had a jar of Marmite back home, so they were somewhat accustomed to the flavor. Vegemite is thicker than Marmite- think Nutella rather than molasses- and has a saltier, less bitter flavor.  We’ve been eating it properly- on toast with eggs- in the mornings.

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One thing that I haven’t tried *yet* is Musk flavored candies. I considered it, but then I smelled them. It’s a powdery chemical perfume scent, like what my Grandmother Hilton (yes, we called her by that formal surname title) used to wear. It reminds me of plastic couch covers and a doll collection we weren’t allowed to touch. I was fond of my grandmother, but not so much so that I would want to eat something that smells like her face powder. Maybe one day I’ll muster up the moxie to try some. Or maybe not.

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B and I managed to slip away one evening to hang out just by ourselves and have a drink at a nearby bar- which they call “hotels.” Hotels are also hotels. Also- chips are chips, but they are also fries. Don’t try to figure it out. Just have a pint and chill.

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I suppose I should sign off now and go get packing. The next dispatch will be from our very own home here. We are shifting out of exploring and playing around, swimming every day and watching movies, and back into some semblance of a “normal” existence.

Which, it should be noted- “normal” for us is rather abnormal. We own that.

This is going to be fun.

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