Well, as I promised, I will now tell you more of my time in ‘real’ Australia!
On Monday, I went to Alissa’s school (Karen drives her to school every weekday) and I stayed for a bit to see how the schools in Australia are different from the ones that I remember going to in the US. It’s been quite a while since I was in the 6th grade so it might all be different now in the USA, but in Australia the first thing they do on Monday morning is get the whole school (all 100 or so students) together in a big room and go over what they will be doing for the week. Then they all sing Australia’s national anthem, which I thought was neat to hear. In case you were wondering about the lyrics, here is the first verse:
Australians all let us rejoice, For we are young and free; We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil, Our home is girt by sea; Our land abounds in Nature’s gifts Of beauty rich and rare; In history’s page, let every stage Advance Australia fair! In joyful strains then let us sing, “Advance Australia fair!”
After that they talked about things like the importance of sunscreen and hats when they are going outside. They aren’t even allowed to play outside unless they have sunscreen and a hat on! Also, the kids learn a lot about the environment and the importance of saving water and energy. They learn so much more about protecting the environment then I ever remember learning in school. I think that is wonderful, they will grow up wanting to make a difference. Actually it seems like overall, Australia is WAY more concerned about the environment then the USA is. Hopefully we’ll catch up soon. Anyway, I really liked seeing the school. It was fun being around a bunch of cute little kids with Australian accents.
After the school, Karen, Cliff and I went to this nifty crystal warehouse. This was a place where they sold geodes and stones and really beautiful crystals at wholesale prices. Some of the things that they had in that place were gorgeous. They had a coffee table where the entire bottom was an amethyst crystal! It was only a few thousand dollars so I bought it and I am having it shipped home. Dad, I used your credit card numbers, I hope you don’t mind?
I also did something else truly Australian. I tried a little something called ‘Vegemite’. What is Vegemite, you ask? Well, it’s a spread for toast that many, many Australians have for breakfast each morning. I think that here, it’s more common on toast then jam is. Why is this so interesting? Well, have you ever TASTED the stuff? In my opinion, it is the weirdest thing that someone might eat for breakfast EVER. Weirder even than the spaghetti on toast they eat in England. It’s this yeast product that is so intensely salty. It has such a strange taste, it doesn’t seem like a breakfast food! Ok, it wasn’t quite ‘throw up’ gross, but it was really, really salty I don’t think I’d ever have the urge to eat it again.
Besides vegemite, crystals, and school, Karen and Cliff have taken me to a few small (ish) towns that we have checked out (non-touristy towns) which has been a great experience. It’s nice to get out of tourist mode. I also met Karen’s other daughter (who is 20) and I’ve met a lot of their friends (true Australians!). We also took a Bush walk where I saw a few other big spiders and a kangaroo bounding around in the trees. The cockatoos flying above their house has become a common sight and sound to me – and they are SO loud. I’m also learning a lot about their other native birdlife, like the willy-wagtail (I love that name).
I also introduced the family to a lovely American campfire tradition called ‘s’mores’. I had to improvise a bit… they don’t have graham crackers here so we had to use a different kind of sweet cracker, which was a bit too thick and not really sweet enough… They also didn’t have Hersey bars so we used another chocolate bar called a ‘Flake’. Also, they only had marshmallows that came in a package with strawberry and vanilla mallows… so we just picked out the strawberry ones and used the vanillas. Oh, and there is currently a fire restriction in their area (it’s a drought and it’s high fire season) so we used the electric stove to roast the marshmallows. They turned out pretty good, but nowhere NEAR as good as they are with all the proper ingredients! We’ll just have to make sure that the next time Cliff and Karen come to the States, they try the proper version of s’mores!
I don’t know why I always wait until this late at night to write my blog posts. Now I’m so beat and I’m sure I’m forgetting a ton of things, and I tend to ramble more when I’m tired. I better end this now and go to bed. We will have to have a ‘Real Australia Part III’ tomorrow. And let me tell you, it is going to be good. I haven’t even told you what happened today! Always leave them wanting more.
G’nite everyone! If you go to Mackers in the arvo, don’t forget to put dead horse on the chips!