Urban Australia offers plenty of surface level similarities to urban America… sailing between the heads into Sydney Harbour, you didn’t even need to fuzz your eyes to feel a little like going into San Francisco: hills, mission tile roofs, subtropical and temperate foliage blended.
The differences immediately start to smack you back to the reality of being 5,000+ miles and an ocean away. There are the signs like this at many crosswalks:
It is finally (finally!) intuitive to look right for oncoming traffic, but I nearly got squashed a few times when we first arrived. First… traffic? huh? After months in the islands, that was strange enough, but to have them coming at us from the “wrong” side…well, I’m happy to still be here. Dangerous stuff!
Then it’s the little things. Electric switches flip down to turn on, up to turn off. Huh?
Then there’s “How you going?” I’m embarrassed to say how long it took me to decipher this common greeting. Rough equivalent to “how are you” or “what’s up?” but mumbled together in a kind of “owyagoan” that left me wondering if clerks were asking me for my ID or had just stepped on something unexpected.
Rules. Rules, rules, rules. The local papers write about the Nanny State of Australia… we get faced with lots of rules in the boating community that don’t make sense. Of course, this feels plenty familiar from home. But here, rules are flagrantly ignored and don’t seem to be enforced. So why do they matter so much? People are still all about their “rules.”
Cost. Everything is so expensive! I was looking at notes I’d taken on the cost of common groceries in Tahiti… thinking, at the time, how outrageous they were. Well… it’s not any better here, and it’s generally actually more expensive. This boggles me. If there were at least subsidized baguettes or slabs of proper French brie at reasonable prices, we might not consider revolting. Another reason to miss the islands.
What’s really the same?
We still get to see some beautiful skies. I’m just missing the land beneath.