Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Down in the Garden

A lot going on, as usual, but I'll start with my new favorite place in Sydney, the Royal Botanic Gardens (obviously, having been in Sydney for a whole week I have seen/done everything and am therefore in a good place to judge the best place in the city).

I went to the Gardens for the first time on Friday, and walked from the Opera House all around the perimeter along the harbour. It turned out to be a way longer walk than I expected, but it was beautiful. If you check out this map you'll see why. The gardens are just amazing. Plants from all over the world, lawns stretching in every direction and--my favorite part--signs everywhere encouraging you to walk on the grass and enjoy the park. There are people everywhere picnicking, running, and just lying around reading. Sorry Central Park, but the Botanic Gardens win.

Although I am trying to see something new everyday, I went back again today. I first tried to go over to the observatory, but couldn't find it, so I thought I'd go read for awhile in the Botanic Gardens. I took a new path this time and went to some of the interior gardens. First I visited an herb garden and then moved on the the mini-rainforest. As I was walking, I heard a rustle and saw something dart across the path. I assumed it was a kangaroo rat, because I saw one the other day. Okay, I actually have no idea if the animal I saw the other day was a kangaroo rat, but it was a rodent (hence "rat") and I am in Australia (hence "kangaroo"). Flawless logic, no?

Anyway, the animal I saw today was definitely not a kangaroo rat, or any kind of rat, but a lizard, and it was a good 3-5 inches long. It ran away, but about a foot away from me I saw another lizard, this one about 8 inches long. It was not bothered by me at all and just stood there. I wish I could upload my pictures because it was pretty cool. A nice gentleman noticed me taking a picture and pointed me around the pond, where there was a gigantic lizard. I'm sure it wasn't an iguana, but it was about the size of one--at least two feet from head to tail. Again, just chilling, not worried about anyone.

I kept walking through the mini-rainforest and came across a sign that said "Want to see a bat? Look up." I did and wow, the sign was not kidding. The trees were literally filled with giant bats hanging upsidedown. To give you an idea of how many, it is comparable to the winter/spring on the U of M campus when those giant crows line the trees. It's a little scary. These suckers are huge! PBS.org says their wingspan is up to 79 inches, and I don't doubt it. The picture doesn't really do them justice, but you'll have to deal with it. Or just Google them and see if you can find a better picture.

If the wildlife in a downtown city park is this awesome, I can't wait to get out into the national parks.

Other quick highlights:

  • Today was my first (and not last) day at a job! I went to a temp agency yesterday and they found me a six-day assignment at the New South Wales Department of Corrections, starting today. It was pretty boring, but it will make me enough money to put a security deposit and some rent on an apartment. And hopefully this means that temp assignments are easy to come across.
  • The other night I was at a club and some techno/Europop song came on that sounded strangely familiar, but I couldn't place it. Everyone got excited and knew all the words by heart. Then the chorus came on and I realized that it was, no joke, a techno/Europop remix of "Take Me Home, West Virginia." Everyone loved it and had clearly heard it before. I couldn't stop laughing. I wonder what kinds of foreign songs I am listening to that have strange roots.
  • The beach was awesome on Sunday. I was tanning when it was 7 degrees (that's Fahrenheit, not Celsius) in Michigan. Can't go wrong with that.
  • It is amazing who I am meeting. The other day in my hostel room we were all sitting around talking and I realized that I was the only native speaker of English, but that was also the only common language for everyone. Very interesting!
  • Now that I've found a job (sort of), I'm working on finding an apartment. Got a few leads, we'll see what happens. I have been spoiled by having my own room since sophomore year of college, and I'm not ready to share with someone else, so this may be a challenge.
Your Australian fun fact for the day: 1 in 3 Australians has skin cancer. Time to reapply my sunscreen!


Emily M. said...

Hey Geetha - I can't believe there is such a thing as a techno/Europop remix of "Country Roads"!!!!! Makes me proud to be a West Virginian...sort of...Anyway, have fun partying with all those beautiful people!

Peter W said...

G'day Geetha
Glad you liked my workplace (the RBG). We have a friend in common, so if you are free some week day I can probably arrange to give you a glimpse behind the scenes ...