Sunday, January 20, 2008

Our “tall Poppy” interlude between Sydney and Tangalooma Island

I wrote this last week, while on Tagalooma Island with Kenneth, Naomi and Zoe. We had no internet to post it at the time.

Some of the most memorable moments happen on the journey, don’t they? Once we have arrived at our different destinations, this month, it’s been all sunsets, fireworks and happy reunions – not all that much to say that won’t fit on a large, colorful post card, the picture telling the story. And it feels cruel to talk about warmth and lapping waves, knowing how cold it is in the northern hemisphere. But during the journey, you have luggage and kids’ needs and time schedules to juggle. It can get more interesting.

The seven of us had to take a plane and then a ferry to get to Tangalooma Island, where we are staying for a week. We did some last minute figuring to get us all to the airport, made it to the check-in line on time and felt confident that the kind Australian airport officials would know of a way to package Gillen’s boogie board and fishing pole, to bring them with us on the journey (they did; it was easy; I can see Gillen fishing off the pier , with a very cool assortment of likewise fishing boys, as I type this).

We stood in line at the Sydney Kingsford Airport, feeling positive that Zoe would love her first airplane ride. She did.

And then it was time to count the bags we’d be checking and as Kenneth surveyed the bags, his eyes suddenly got bigger, their green a bit greyer. There may have been some non-Aussie-like swearing (editorial note : turns out Aussies love swearing).

“Naomi, you didn’t bring our suitcase?”

“No. Didn’t you?”

It was Kenneth and Naomi’s first time traveling far with a baby. They had brought a giant blue suitcase for four month old Zoe, but all of their own clothing,, toiletries and books were in a suitcase, in their bedroom at home.

No one lost it. It was decided that they could buy a few things in Brisbane, during our four hours layover before we were scheduled to get on the ferry. New clothes. They aren’t on a farmers’ budget. Fun!

Once we landed, we took a taxi to a mall, bringing lots of luggage, and immediately set up camp at the first restaurant we saw – the light filled, large tabled, Seafood Palace. We ate garlic prawns, and fish and chips, and cheese covered cooked oysters. Zoe nursed and then slept. All were well fed. The power-shopping could begin. Tangalooma Island is mostly made up of protected national park ground and has only one resort hotel and a few apartment buildings, which is where we are staying. There is a pier and a few restaurants and that is it. No way to buy food. So Nicolas went food shopping, Kenneth went clothes shopping and Naomi sat with sleeping Zoe, waiting for her to wake up before her buying could begin.

We had entered the restaurant with four bags, a boogie board, a fishing pole, two kids, three adults and a baby. From the start we took up half of the restaurant. After Kenneth’s first round of shopping, he added a new suitcase to the pile by the door. On the next two rounds he came back with four shopping bags to add to the pile, only showing us one of his purchases – two bathing suits – which were so horrifying, in their designs and in their large size (to be fair, it is challenging to convert centimeters to inches for a new waist size when you are rushing) that we made him add on time to return them.

In the middle of Kenneth’s trips, Zoe woke up, with a happy smile and a large poop, her first in a diaper in weeks (they practice elimination communication). She was wearing a cloth diaper, but no cover. Her mother was wearing a white skirt. Zoe was in her mother’s lap. You get the picture. The restaurant had no bathroom. I got the wipes and another diaper and the bag for dirty diapers and (very ungracefully) managed to maneuver most of the non-smelly infant yellow poo into the wipes and bag. There was much “oo”ing from Gillen, lots of giggling from Jesse and I… not exactly a subtle undertaking. The very polite and patient Asian waiters and waitresses continued to look the other way, but they were definitely smiling less. I took Zoe, and Naomi had one hour to do her power shopping. Kenneth returned with a much more expensive, fantastic bathing suit and a need for a cup of coffee.

“Oh don’t get one here, go to the coffee shop next door,” I announced in my American voice (Australians are so much more soft spoken), apparently well within range of the waiters’ ears. Oops. And later, when Gillen was given money to get a snack, I suggested trying another place, yet again! Oh my God. I’m a loud, rude American. I can still feel the shame. Especially because at this point Nicolas entered the restaurant with a filled, squeaky, very large grocery shopping cart, parking it next to our table. Coles grocery store had give n him permission to bring the cart over. “No worries, mate!”

In a field of Poppies, according to Australian unspoken modes of behavior, you don’t want to be taller than the other Poppies. You want to be the same as everybody else. I believe we may have been the tallest, brightest Poppies that ever bloomed in that there Seafood Palace.

Now that we are on the island there is nothing but relaxation, hot sun, dolphins, pelicans and white sand to talk about.


Bhu said...

Matt, Andrew and I are laughing out loud. Such fun to hear your Australian antics!

kelli said...

*smile* wonderful adventures do unfold while traveling, don't they?

ahhhhhh... the thoughts of sand and dolphins, thanks for those images :)

Madeline said...

Hi Bhu! Let's finally use skype today. Call us.

I love that beach profile pic of you Kelli. You look good on a beach. : ) Hope you get to one this year in your move.

Rachel said...

This post is so hilarious! I am loving reading about your adventures, even the parts that are less than the kind you might want to put on a post card. Thank goodness for blogs and the space to include such details! :) You may be the tallest poppies out there, but I have a feeling if anyone is looking closely, they'll realize that you are the most fabulous ones too.