Early. Early. Grumpy.
The lights in my room had already been on for over an hour & I was fully dressed & ready to go when the town rooster crowed - at 4:45am. This is my vacation?
After sleeping for a few hours on the bus and a refuling/coffee break, we stopped at one of the smallest salt lakes in the country, Lake Hart. From a distance, it looks like water & as you get closer it looks like snow, but its just a huge expanse of glittering white salt, stretching to the horizon. We walked out on it for a ways; there are random wagon pieces & remnants from a wooden salt mining jetty, all rotted & rusted & covered in salt crystals. I can only imagine how long they've been there, baking. Sort of a surreal place.
John MacDowell Stuart was the first white man to traverse Australia north to south. It took him 6 tries & the last one took 8 months, by foot, and almost killed him. Stuart Highway, what we're driving today & tomorrow, was named for him. Its the only real paved road out here; I never really understood before how very empty it is.
Stopped at the two petrol station, 30 person "town" Glendambo for a pee break & a chance to try the worst coffee in Australia. I opted out of that one. :)
Then stopped at a section of the road that is also a runway for the Flying Doctors & almost the entire group posed on the crosswalk for a great cheesy "abbey road" photo.
A few more hours on the bus & we arrived in Coober Pedy, the opal mining capital of the world. This town is quite possibly the ugliest place I've ever been. Its too hot & waters too scarce to grow grass or flowers, and its built around the mining industry, so everywhere you look are piles of dirt & big drilling machienes.
Most of the homes, including our hostel (pictured) are built underground to keep cool. I actually think that's kind of neat & its very environmentally friendly, but in those underground structures the walls & ceiling are ugly, scratched-looking reddish brown, and there are no windows. I just don't think I could live in a house like that & i know I couldn't live in this town.
We took a tour of an opal mine, which was pretty cool - it was really deep underground (I think he said 30 meters) & all dug by hand between 1920 & 1970. Even in a big group of people I found it kind of creepy; I could never be a miner (surprise, surprise ha ha). It was really neat to see a vein of opal in the rock though.
Then came the highlight of my day & a competitor for highlight of this trip. We went to a home where they rescue, raise & release orphaned red kangaroo joeys. Oh my goodness so SO adorable. Kangaroos are so soft! They had a large one just over a year old that, because of a dog attack, won't be able to be released into the wild so its their pet. Then they had 2 joeys, much smaller but only a bit younger. We got to pet them & feed them wasabi peas (no lie!).
Then, they brought out two pinkies, which are baby joeys that should still be living in their mothers pouches; they have little cloth sacks the pinkies are carried around in. I got to hold a tiny little pinkie called Coober, he's only 4.5 months old!! I totally fell in love - look at that little face, who wouldn't fall for him! I cradled him like a baby, keeping him pretty much nose to toes bc that's how he'd be in mums pouch. He was sucking on his blanket & let me pet his head & ears & fuzzy belly - I even held his little hand! It was amazing. I could've held him all day but I had to share. :)
Later Sandeep (Indian) & Stephan (German) & I learned to play the digeridoo - cross that off my list! I couldn't stop laughing, it sounded like a foghorn fart!
James (British), Sandeep & I were the last ones to leave; James was getting the owner to tell some fascinating stories about fighting adult kangaroos (the males get very big & aggressive), and I was holding a joey, Lilly, 7 months old. Le sigh.
Then we had a pizza dinner & I joined the boys club at the nearby underground bar, which wasn't as thrilling as it sounds, but now I can say I've had a beer underground. :) I had so much fun hanging out with them: Sandeep, Stephan, Dennis (Canadian), Kirten (Norwegian), and Sammy (French) are crazy boys. Loud, obnoxious & fun. Stephan & Dennis are pictured.
I tried out my french on Sammy (he doesn't speak English) & didn't do too badly! It was a good night & I went to bed deep below the earth.
Today I'm so happy & grateful for:
~ getting to hold baby kangaroos!
~ making friends easily
~ crazy experiences