We piled our drowsy selves (our guide Jen calls us her little sleepy koalas) onto the bus & headed to Kings Canyon for our last hike in the outback. Started the hike at 6am up what's called Heart Attack Hill. Seriously.
My body was so mad at me.
But it ended up being a beautiful walk through the canyon - again, those bright orange rocks against the blue sky are just brilliant. Walked through what they call the lost city, which is an area of domed rocks that do look like strange desert buildings. They're sheets of sandstone, stacked up like dishes in a cupboard, each a bit smaller than the last to form a rugged dome. All together, they sort of looked like something out of a star wars movie; a futuristic ghost town.
Went down into an area that used to be underwater & you can still see fossilized ripples in the rock. (our guide Jen is pictured telling us about it). I put my hand on the rock & thought, I'm connecting with something millions of years old. Amazing.
Hiked through that to the Garden of Eden, an area of lush vegetation & springs coming up unexpectedly out of the rock & sand. Apparently its bc the canyon is made of sandstone which is full of air pockets, making it absorb rainfall like a sponge. We took a snack & water break by a large pool of water in the shade of canyon walls & a canopy of trees. It was beautiful.
It ended up being a really lovely, enjoyable 3hr hike & I'm glad we ended on a high note. :)
After the hike, Jen took us to the kings canyon resort and - oh what a treat! - we got to lounge in the pool for an hour & a half while she got lunch ready. We did "la bomba" (the boys made it up; you yell LA BOMBA as you cannonball into the pool - the objective is to make the biggest splash) and laughed & sunbathed. Then lunch & time for our last bus ride.
I sat in the back with the original crew - Erich (who's been on every bus trip with me), Sandeep, and Verena; we've been travelling together since Melbs, about 2 weeks. (pictured, left to right: Erich, Sandeep, me, Verena) Its amazing how well you can get to know people in that time; I'm going to miss them. we talked & laughed the whole 5 hrs & the couple from the UK, Dan & Sian, joined in. Talked about our different cultures, compared passports, learned words & phrases in other languages (teeter, I learned "I love you" in Welsch & Hindi for you!), and the time flew by.
Before we knew it we'd reached Alice Springs. Checked into the hostel & changed - I finally put on a dress & makeup, and everyone was like, whoa you look nice! James said I'd gone from being one of the lads to a proper lady and Sammy, who only speaks French, said oh la la & gave me a thumbs up. :)
We all went out, pretty much the entire group besides the oldies, to Annies, a funky bar with live music. We had a good time; Sandeep taught Stephen some Bollywood dancing (hilarious) and I taught everyone our (me teeter & chick's) "cheeahs" eye-contact cheer.
Sandeep & I kept butting heads a bit, miscommunicating in these continual serious conversations about our cultures & finally I told him I'm just exhausted. I'm not the representative of my country, I'm just one person out of millions & my perspective is only that. He agreed & we agreed to just enjoy each others company as people, not as cultures, and then it was much nicer.
Went to bed at a decent time, being responsible bc I knew I had to catch my flight to perth the next day. It was sad saying goodbye to everyone - its weird to make these connections with people & then know you may never see them again. But at least we have facebook. :)
Today I am so grateful & happy for: