In Sydney it has been raining for well over two days. The in-town, walk-around-the-city, sight-seeing-type fun Scott and I intended to have today and yesterday couldn’t happen. We’ve mostly been confined to Scott’s brother’s apartment, but it has given us time to write, which is something we planned on doing anyway. SO…
Scott and I took a bus to the Sydney Opera House the morning I arrived, which is a must-see, mostly for bragging I guess. We walked through a nearby botanical garden full of plants which could have very well inspired Dr. Seuss (Scott’s observation) and admired the art and plant life Scott hadn’t taken the time to observe yet, because he hasn’t had another friend to whom the sights were also new. Maybe the most interesting thing in the garden was an iron gazebo, which appeared to be made of giant strands of barbed wire. Some children were playing in it, which was strange, considering how violent the structure appeared. The children left with their mother almost right away and we took a closer look. The entrance to the gazebo was formed by an ax and scythe, with the number “2000” tucked between them, which I assume is the year it was built, and not the number of people murdered trying to enter. The roof was open and full of intricate designs, which at closer examination, turned out to be iron imitations of animal jaws bones. Then, the jagged icing on this barbed cake, was the very peak of the gazebo was a SEVERED ARM HOLDING A KNIFE. The whole formation looked like if “The Chokey” from Matilda was also a giant birdcage.
Parts of Sydney reminded me of Johannesburg (the cars driving on the left side of the road mostly, and some of the more “suburby” buildings) and parts reminded me of Chicago (the more city-y areas)–so Sydney is a very cool city to walk around and just look at, is what I’m trying to say (though this is from someone used to seeing Springfield, Missouri).
Scott and I revisited the, uh, Opera House area (I don’t know what certain areas are called) and went to a few pubs with his friend Steve, and some of Steve’s friends, for Steve’s birthday. This side of Sydney was packed with people, and several buildings, including the Opera House, were covered with animation of moving objects or humans from giant projectors, which ranged from cartoony and colorful to artsy and confusingly realistic. Scott had us go out at night, not just to see his friend, but to help me get on the correct sleep schedule because I was really feeling the jet lag by this point–I had barely slept in around two days. I learned from one of Steve’s friends that Australia was celebrating the Queen’s birthday, which is a made-up holiday so Australia could have an extra day off at one point during the year. It isn’t her real birthday.
The next day was warmer (the first day was pretty cold; my first night Scott forgot to turn on the heat in the apartment, and I woke up in the night looking for a tonton to cut open) and so we went for a bike ride to the beach. The roads leading to the beach were hilly–there’s nothing like traveling across the world just to realize you’re out of shape. When we arrived, we locked our bikes, and I walked my wobbly legs across the COLDEST SAND I’VE EVER TOUCHED. I stood in the ocean and had my picture taken, because that’s what humans do, I guess. And then we decided to go climb on the rocks near the beach. We stumbled across more freezing sand to get there.
Ladies, I do not like long walks on the beach. Does anyone actually like that? I don’t know why anyone would–sand is a miserable surface to walk across. It’s typically hot enough to burn feet (or is cold and uncomfortable in today’s case), gives in to weight randomly which makes walking tiresome and physically awkward, makes feet dirty, and hides painful rocks, shells, and, if you are unlucky enough, a hypodermic needle.
That needed to be addressed. ANYWAY– we climbed, still barefoot, across some giant rocks, randomly arranged by nature, in order to see this natural pool which is created by a rock barrier. Scott said people call it something like “Champagne Pool,” and we soon saw why. In no time, while standing atop the rocks closest to the crashing waves, the waves grew enormous and showered us in foam, which filled the pool behind us with white froth. We escaped before getting completely drenched.
The following day it was all we could do not to be drenched. Rain poured all day. Dinner plans were made with a few of Scott’s friends from improv shows to eat at a place called Shakespeare’s–a really cool restaurant and pub with no meal costing more than $12.50. The rain had calmed by the time Scott and I met his friend Carlo, and as we walked to Shakespeare’s, the rain started falling in heaps. We sought shelter beneath a bus stop for the rain was falling in a thick screen and it was difficult to see down the street. A car sped by and its tires tossed a torrent of water across Carlo’s pants. He hoped upon the bus stop bench and we followed his action. The three of us spent the next fifteen minutes trying to dodge tire-tossed water; the rain was not relenting. Scott’s other friend, Kay, met us at the bus stop and she was intelligent–she brought rain boots and an umbrella with her. Hunkered beneath one umbrella, we gathered another from Carlo’s house and went to a closer restaurant, one that served Vietnamese food.
We all enjoyed just chatting as we ate our food, we exchanged stories and jokes, but I noticed something strange happening: I began to doubt my own intelligence, vocabulary, and attractiveness. And all because of my stupid American accent. All of a sudden I felt like all of my words were too short. Start using some three or four syllable words, I thought to myself. Don’t pronounce your r’s so hard. Everything Kay and Carlo said sounded awesome. You sound classless and ugly. I was fascinated by their local terms and idioms. Say some phrases from back home that they might think is cool–say swag or something. (I never said “swag” for the record.) I got over my insecurities, or suppressed them, and had a good time the entire time, but I wondered if that self consciousness was normal. Scott confirmed that he had felt a similar way for a while when first arriving here, but he appropriately stopped caring.
Foreign accents seem to be usually considered attractive to Americans, but I can’t imagine other nations finding our constant corruption of the English language charming or sexy. But, if anyone knows of a place, please let me know and I’ll make that my next destination.