‘Twas the night before Christmas…
It’s a whole different experience!
So I thought I’d take this opportunity to tell you about some of the differences between a northern hemisphere Christmas, and a southern one… For starters, it’s hot. Or, as the locals would say, ‘bloody hot mate!’
I went to the beach a couple of days ago – not to do anything as crazy as sunbathing mind, just for a casual stroll around. We were there for about 20 minutes, admiring the postcard-perfect vista of golden sands and deep blue ocean. Beautiful! Then we leapt back into the air-conditioned sanctuary of the car, and counted ourselves lucky that we weren’t waiting around for public transport in the 34-degree heat – or even worse, walking home!
Still, those few moments took their toll – here’s what has been keeping me awake at night ever since:
I can’t see any difference myself, but then I’m colour-blind. It makes traffic lights fun, which is one reason why I only learned to drive last month (at age 33) – that, of course, is a story for another time.
Apparently I got burned pretty badly in those 20 minutes. All because they ain’t got none o’ that Ozone Layer around these parts… This leads to very high instances of skin cancer, caused by something as simple as relaxing by the pool for just a little too long. The operation to remove them, and replace the skin with a bit from your bum, is one of the most commonly performed in Australia. As the saying goes, ‘if you’re not careful you’ll be wearing your arse on your face!”
Although with the size of my nose, I don’t think anyone would notice.
There are frogs in Australia – just in case you didn’t know.
But they’re not… how do I say this? Normal. The don’t croak – no ‘ribbet, ribbet’ around here. No, these frogs whistle – and some make a ‘boing!’ sound, like the string of a banjo being plucked. No prize for guessing their names – the Aussies are nothing if not straightforward – the Whistling Frog and the Banjo Frog, they are. And then there’s the one that sounds like a motorbike idling at the lights… no, I’m serious! The motorbike frog fires up with a cough, then develops a ‘rmmm, RMMM, rmmm, RMMM’ type rhythm which will have you looking out of the window for unexpected guests.
Or it would, during the day.
These frogs are most vocal at night – and where we live, in what is politely referred to as a more ‘rural’ suburb… they have every one of them! It’s deafening!
But then, frogs are fairly benign. There are plenty of other critters lurking in the countryside – Australia is famous for them. Pretty much everything that crawls, walks or flies here wants a piece of you – and if there’s one way to ensure they all get one, it’s this; live in the countryside!
By way of example, last night we trapped a pretty large Huntsman Spider. Not huge – about the size of a hand – between the two sliding panes of the kitchen window. None of us were brave enough to face the thing in single combat, so we put off the decision on what to do with the creature until morning.
We had a lie in, and were baked out of bed by the sun at 9am. It was a balmy 32 degrees. One of Krista’s sisters had gotten up early to go to work, and left us this message on the snazzy neon note board:
We’ve yet to find out.
So if I don’t come back for a post-Christmas post, you can assume I’ve been swallowed whole by this monster and will be slowly digesting over the New Year.
On the upside, there’s one Australian Christmas tradition I was more than happy to participate in:
The buying of ridiculous amounts of booze!
The place to buy alcohol is a ‘bottle shop’ (or ‘bottlo’, as Australians are unable to pronounce a word that doesn’t end in ‘o’.). It has occasionally been referred to as a ‘grog shop’ – regardless, it’s like a supermarket dedicated to booze. And, on the day before Christmas Eve, it was RAMMED. Full to bursting. Four of us went in, and only two survived. Both showed serious signs of trolley-induced trauma, including the outline of a wheel scored into Krista’s ankle – but we staggered out under the burden of almost $250 worth of alcohol! A moderate sum, given that there will be six of us partaking of it – we saw blatantly single guys (yeah, you know the type!) manhandling seven or eight cases of beer into knackered cars – if there’s one thing Aussies can do, it’s drink.
What about you guys?