Despite Being Down Under, It Feels As If I Never Left America
Perhaps I should have gone straight from the airport for a brief walkabout in the bush or the outback.
Seen a Crocodile Dundee movie before I departed for this trip.
I’ve been in Australia nearly a week now, and I feel pretty much as if I haven’t left America. Sydney is like a compact Los Angeles and Surfer’s Paradise is like Ft. Lauderdale (the Queensland license plates even say “Sunshine State” as they do in Florida). All the signs are in English, there are no old cobblestone streets as in Europe and no strange “gee I wonder what that means” moments.
I’ve not been bitten by some super-venomous insect or snake (Australia has an abundance of each), stung by anything lethal (here, too, Australia has plenty of capable candidates such as the blue-ringed octopus and box jellyfish) or, obviously since I’m writing this blog, have yet to been eaten by a shark or a crocodile.
About my only confusion has been a tendency to want to sit in what here is the driver’s seat when going for a ride with my mate at the helm, and my only safety concern has been to be sure I don’t get hit by a car because I’m looking the wrong way. And even then, several crosswalks in Sydney have “LOOK LEFT” and “LOOK RIGHT” painted on the street.
Australia is, without question, a very friendly country.
I’ve seen the Sydney Opera House, the Harbor Bridge, the Gold Coast. But I still feel as if I’m in America. Things are that similar here. It started immediately upon arrival when there were just two customs agents checking passports while eight stood around and watched. That’s a true American government trait.
Heck, they even get ESPN!
Having that moment is not a deal-breaker as to whether or not I’ll like this country. I do, and I’m only beginning to peel back its layers. It’s just that when you travel this far –it’s a 16-hour plane ride from L.A. – you kind of expect to arrive in a place that’s different from where you left.
You expect to have moments where you are standing at an intersection or in front of a sign scratching your head and saying “hmmm” a lot. You want to walk away from someone with whom you’ve asked some local information or directions and having no idea what they said because you couldn’t understand a word of it.
Heck, even when I’m in a place as close to and similar as America, Canada, I know I’m in Canada. Here, it’s as if I’m in just some new part of the States.
I keep joking I need to see a kangaroo hop through a hotel lobby or come across a koala bear napping in a tree.
There is, however, one difference I’m picking up on the more time I spend here. The people have a can-do attitude.
“Yeah, we should be able to do that,” they will say in response to any inquiry that requires getting something accomplished. “Shouldn’t be a problem.” This is in direct contrast to the States, where some people thrive on telling you something can’t be done, even though it could if they would simply give it 10 seconds of attention.
But I’m still waiting to have that “hey, I’m in Australia!” moment.
I asked a mate – here, that means a good friend, not a romantic partner – from Australia who visited the States a few months earlier if she felt the same way about the ease of stepping off the plane in a foreign country yet feeling as if you are at home. She said she indeed felt the same way. So I asked what was her “hey, I’m in America!” moment.
“When I saw the yellow taxi cabs,” she said.
Yellow taxi cabs?
“Yeah. Over here they are white. I’ve seen yellow taxi cabs in TV shows and movies and when I saw them there, I knew I was in America.”
Yellow taxi cabs. Okay, so I’m looking for the Aussie equivalent of yellow taxi cabs.
Somehow, I think my “Australia moment” will occur in a bar. I had a brief episode of it on Day 6 during a quick chat with a bartender.
“Here ya go mate, enjoy your be-ear,” he said in what I feel is the stereotype male Aussie accent while handing me a beer. And then when a mate wanted to get behind the bar to take a photo he said, “yeah, have at it mate!”
Hmm, maybe it just takes a bit of time for that “moment” to arrive.
I’m not worried about it of course.
In fact, shouldn’t be a problem, mate!