Hullo, all. Writing from Australia still. Three more days and then it's back to chilly Auckland but for now we're enjoying the sun and heat. It really does seem a lot like Florida here. I mentioned earlier that Queensland is called The Sunshine State, and there are a lot of similarities. It's kind of disorienting. There's this sense of familiarity in the surroundings, the architecture and foliage, the rather dodgy strip centers that line the streets. But then there's a sort of Mad Max feeling, too, which throws you off.
It's a bit wild and rugged. Lots of people that look as if they might eat rattlesnakes for breakfast and hoards of older Landcruisers that are outfitted with these crazy looking racks, snorkel exhausts, and rammers on the front. I'll have to look up what this rhino horn thing is. I might need one for my Mustang.
What we're really loving is the very tropical feel to the area. It is tropical, of course, but you don't tend to think of Australia that way. There are beautiful turquoise water white sand beaches, palm trees galore, rainforests, creepy bugs (including an enormous centipede -- gazillion-pede?? -- that we found in the pool), papayas (they call them paw paws) that fall from the trees, and then the crazy stuff we've been catching on the beach. The hammerhead shark, multiple varieties of stingrays, signs for crocodiles, on and on. The rainforest-covered mountains start right at the beaches in many places. It just looks very foreign, and when you travel this far of course that's what you want, right? To feel like you've traveled a long way and damn it, it looks different from home!
These hideous little ants (we call them Kool Aid ants because the liquid in their little back sections looks like it) are everywhere and yesterday I stood for a minute in the grass taking photos of bats and then I had them all over my legs and feet and even once I got back in the car, there were more and they kept biting me and we had to stop and fully inspect and rid me of them. It was nightmare inducing. In fact, just writing about it, I feel like there's one on my leg.
I know, the sunset photos are so clichéd, but is there anything much more beautiful than this? This was our first night here and it was such a lovely welcome.
Within about 9 seconds of arriving at the house we've rented, we began to notice a din (I think the word cacophony might be appropriate here, though I've never used that word before) that came from the backyard. There's a tree there filled with hundreds of medium-sized black birds and their nests full of babies. All very hungry!
They are metallic starlings and they're really weird! The adults will suddenly and spontaneously leave the tree all at once and swoop through the yard, over the pool, and then return carrying leaves. I read that they use these leaves in the nests for their scent which repels certain insects. You have time to research things like this when you're on vacation. Anyway, they're interesting to watch from the chair next to the pool when I need a break from my very strenuous afternoon routine of reading and eating water crackers with this delicious chili crab and spring onion dip, which I will certainly have to import to the US once we go home.
Ciao for now, my friends. Someone's gotta get dinner together. Love from all of us!