January 10 -12
A month after leaving Seattle, we landed in Darwin, Australia at 4:30 in the morning. Nando's parents graciously picked us up at that awful hour and took us home where we promptly crashed for 7 or 8 hours. My last thought before falling asleep was, "wow...I'm not leaving."
When we finally did wake up, we immediately set about starting our new life in Australia. Which it turns out involves as many lines and and as much bureaucracy as it does in the states. We went to the medicare office where I was informed I had to wait a couple of days for immigration to tell them I was actually in the country and then we tried to transfer the ownership of our new (to us) car and the Motor Vehicle Registration office was closed at 4 pm. Ah, the sweet familiarity of government.
|Joss Paper. Photo from Wikipedia|
Wednesday was for family. We woke up early to have a small ceremony to remember Nando's ancestors. We set out an offering of food, tea and rum for them and then we folded gold and silver joss paper into little origami boats that we burned. They tradition is meant to ensure that our ancestors have good things in the afterlife. I really enjoyed seeing how Nando and his family respect and acknowledge where they came from because knowing my history has always been important to me as well. It was a neat experience and a tradition I look forward to continuing in our family.
I got to meet the aunties and Nando's Grandma on Wednesday night. They were great fun and I was thrilled to find out that I share a love of motorcycles with one of his aunts. Now if only I can convince Nando that his aunt owning a motorcycle is enough of a reason for me to have one...
On Thursday morning we went to Aquascene bright and early. Aquascene is a fish feeding sanctuary where you can hand feed fish, knee deep in water. There are many kinds of fish and rays that hang out there and they have no fear of swimming around your ankles to get to the stale bread you're handing out. More than anything, it tickles when they nibble at your skin to see if you're food. You just have to be sure to shuffle in and out of the water to make sure that you don't step on any of the little guys.
Once the fish all had full bellies, we headed to the mango farm that Nando's family has owned and run since 1985. Colton Park is 50 kilometers South of Darwin, and approximately 5 kilometers North of Hell if I use the temperature as a gauge. From the second we arrived until the second we left, an hour later, I was dripping in sweat. Not pretty, glistening, girl sweat either. Full on, I just ran a marathon in 100 degree farenheit weather, sweat. That said, it's a beautifully maintained farm with row after row of 18 different types of mango trees. Nando's Dad drove me around the farm in his ute (utility vehicle) and pointed out each of the different types of trees occasionally getting out of the truck long enough to kick over one of the ant hills that had started to form under a tree. After the tour, I got to drive the ute around the farm myself!