There always comes a day during my travels when I have a little crash, emotionally or physically, or (often) both. Suddenly, in the midst of all my pleasures I am suddenly aware of being 8000 miles from home, from my tomatoes and my morning walk and a phone I can pick up to dial just anyone. My mother. My writing buddies. The bed where I know exactly how to plump the pillows. The coffee maker that I can fill with exactly the right amount of grounds to water and the computer(s) that are set up the way I like them, with all my bookmarks and fast connections and my big-hand keyboard.
Not to mention CR and the dogs and Athena, who must be very lonely by now, missing both her boy kitty and her woman.
Yesterday was that day for me. We spent the night in a bland little motel near the airport in Melbourne. Tasmania was behind us–a place I loved and want to visit and explore in much more depth–and I was feeling a little blah. Coldish, maybe, though I refused to speak it into existence, as my mother in law used to say, long ago. I dosed myself with Vitamin C and zinc tablets and Jo insisted there should also be brandy. Just a little blah. It happens. The world doesn’t come to an end or anything. Every traveler knows these moments appear, and one just hums another song, something happy, and tries to remember all the reasons we wanted to come here, now, in these days.
On the plane to Alice Springs, my seatmate opened a newspaper and there across the front page was the news of Hurricane Gustav, which was–yesterday morning–bearing down on New Orleans and they didn’t know what it would do. I suddenly felt very far away and anxious, as if it was my watch and I’d looked away for a moment.
Which is silly, of course. But instead of trying to give myself a pep talk and paste on a false grin, I looked out the window at the waves of red desert below the plane and thought of the last hurricane and how much different life was, and all those people who were lost, and the things that we all learned about government and preparedness and (another) lesson in the vulnerability and possibility of catastrophe in our cities. I gave in, ever so slightly, to self pity, to the vaguely headachy sniffles and the weariness, and ended up sleeping nearly all the way.
In Alice Springs, I couldn’t get an outside line on my phone card, which naturally added to my wallow, but I did get on the Internet to discover that New Orleans had been evacuated, and everything was ready. In case.
It took a good long walk, which included the sighting of Uluru on the horizon, red and astonishing, plus a good solid beer, to restore my spirits, but the grumpies disappeared as quickly as they arrived. The vitamins and rest have done their work.
This morning, we rode camels. More on that in the next post!