Driven

roundabout

Photo credit: Lenny’s Driving School

We have now have a car. A white, ex-government Toyota we bought from the auction house. We got a good deal.

It’s an unremarkable car. You might even say bland. But it’s new, and it’s fuel-efficient and it’s reliable. Does this mean I’m really an adult now?

Now, to learn driving on the left again.

It wouldn’t be so bad but for the proliferation of roundabouts in this country. And with double lanes! I wonder if Australians just like turning in circles. But I managed to get us home with only a couple of mishaps and nothing resulting in dings or accidents. Success!

Touchdown

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I made it!

Finally, after thinking about it for so long, planning and stressing, sad farewells, and mounds of paperwork, here we are in the land of Oz.

It was a grueling plane ride. If you are from the East coast of North America, you’re going to have a hard time getting to Australia. We also went with cheapness over comfort, and so had a very lengthy layover in Los Angeles. Overall, it took us about three days of traveling to arrive, and about $500 in excess baggage charges. If at all possible, when traveling on airplanes in the economy cabin, be a short person.

I must admit I was a bit disappointed in the customs at Sydney airport. Following dire warnings from various sources about the strictness of Australian customs, I had prepared all of my accompanying paperwork so carefully for my prescription medication and for mum’s tiny little urn, and I had gone over in my mind answers to every possible questions I thought they might ask. I was ready.

It went something like this.

Customs officer: “Is this your first entry into Australia?”
Me: “Well, I did visit a few years ago…”
Customs officer: “No I mean on this Visa.”
Me: “Yes.”
Officer: *stamps the passport* “Have a nice day.”

I moved on to security. I had indicated on the entry form that I had been on a farm within 30 days (I’d been horseback riding), so I expected some questioning on it. It was like this:

Security officer: “Anything to declare?”
Me: “Just that I’m carrying a small urn with my mother’s ashes.”
Officer: *stamps the form* “Ok, go on through.”

I confusedly started to stop with my overloaded luggage cart at the search counter and he waved and said, “Ma’am…..just go all the way through.”

So that was it. I was in Australia. No fanfare or welcome or rigamarole.

It felt a bit as if I’d sneaked in.

It is beautiful here. I had forgotten since the last visit, three years ago. I left the beginnings of Autumn for the beginnings of spring. Everything is in bloom and freshly green. Whatever trepidation I had about leaving during all those hard farewells has at least been alleviated knowing that I get to live in a whole new world. I am also well aware that this is the “honeymoon” phase of culture shock, but I might as well enjoy it while it lasts and everything is still strange and new. Getting to skip winter altogether this year is an added bonus!

On my very first walk outside, I saw kangaroos. And parrots. And palm trees.

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Eventually it might just sink in that this is my new home.