Day 47. Sunday 30 June.
We’ve lost a day – Saturday 29 June – as we crossed the International Date Line. We were asleep at the time – or what passes for sleep on any aircraft. Notwithstanding, the 14 hours was about as comfortable as it could be.
Arrival in Sydney at 0615 highlighted the contrast with our US arrival and departure: no queues to speak of, rapid processing, no fingerprints, a very casual official asking at the luggage carousel “Has anyone got anything to declare?’ and quick exit. We had brought back some herbs taken for our self-catering. D insisted that we answer ‘yes’ on the entry cards in the appropriate box, although T reckoned we didn’t need to, having bought them before leaving home. So, a quick change to the box on the arrival card and confession to the casual official. ‘What do you have?’; ‘Black pepper’, says D and T mutters something about some ‘cumin seeds & fennel seeds’ and can’t get her brain into gear. She was probably right: the inspector stamped the cards and waved us through without any further questions, which actually helped us get out more quickly because our luggage wasn’t put through the X-ray screening.
Transit to domestic terminal left us with a couple of hours to wait – but provided a lesson. Our original booking involved a flight about an hour after arriving, and D had thought this was too little time and had requested a later flight. On reflection, there was no imperative to ensure we didn’t miss the earlier flight, as we’d have just been placed on a later one. And no, we couldn’t jump on a different flight because there was a fare difference involved!
But blessings come unexpectedly: on boarding the plane we were able to share some precious chat with a dear friend returning from Katherine: her husband, a very close and dear friend also, had died while we were away, and we’d missed what was reportedly a wonderful affirmation of his life.
As we took our seats an announcement asked if anybody on board could speak Dutch, as there was an elderly woman passenger who could not speak English, and she was quite concerned that she wasn’t on the right flight, and that her luggage wouldn’t go to the right place. A man seated across from us put his hand up, said he spoke German, and a few of the words were probably similar, so he’d be happy to try. Turned out the woman was actually Austrian and her language was Deutsch, so everything turned out well. For all the miles we’d done in several different countries, speaking only English, it was another reminder of how limiting it is to have only one language, particularly if that language is not common in the countries visited. It was also somewhat of a surprise that a European couldn’t speak English (although she may well have been fluent in several other languages!) as just about everyone that we’d dealt with in the past 6 weeks was multilingual. We really are in a cultural bubble down under, with of course some exceptions.
Craig picked us up and delivered us home, where there were fresh provisions enough to get us through the day. That is such a boon. Later Jo and Maya, Theo & Charlie dropped by for a cup of tea and a noisy chat. We were home. Heating revved up and the promise of blessed darkness by 1730!
So this is the final post for our trip. Thank you to all followers for just being there and sharing the journey. If we have not responded to a comment (we intended to in every case and we did receive them via our email account) it is most likely that in our moving from place to place, a response got mislaid. Our thanks and apologies.