Happy Holidays! We're finding it a bit difficult to believe the Christmas season has arrived. Temperatures in the seventies, fresh strawberries and corn on the cob in the supermarkets, and the smell of barbecues wafting out to the boat are hard to reconcile with Yuletide carols on the radio, green and red decorations downtown and the press of Christmas shoppers in all the stores. Last weekend, Santa Claus arrived in the marina - aboard a forty-foot powerboat. His fluffy suit, stocking cap and boots looked pretty uncomfortable in the summer heat! It may have been summer during our last two Christmases in Chile, but the snow on the mountain peaks and the near-freezing temperatures at night were more in keeping with what we're used to when the holiday season comes along. We've spent the last few weeks sailing around the D'Entrecasteaux Channel, hiking ashore, enjoying Hobart's cafes and markets, and socializing with friends, both old and new. We're even managing to become conversant in the local language, both Aussie English and its more specialized counterpart, what I call Taswegian. Australians refer to their country as "Oz" and themselves as "Aussies." Tasmania is referred to as Tassie (Taz-ee) or GLI, which means "God's Little Island." The continent to the north is called "the big island." The inhabitants of this island call themselves Taswegians (our Scottish friends will no doubt be wondering about the similarity to Glaswegians - we've yet to hear a satisfactory answer). One of the most original words we've heard only in Tasmania is "rigiditch" (no idea how it's really spelled), which seems to mean authentic, as in, "Cool diamond. Is it rigiditch?" The broader category of Australian lingo only begins with "Good d'y, mate." "Beaut" means very good or first class and is a shortened form of "Beauty", an exclamation of approval. You make tea in a "billy" and tea itself is the evening meal, which used to be a smaller meal than the big midday meal. A "bloke" is a guy or a fellow, while a "mate" is a friend. The "bush" is anywhere outside of the city, not just the still-wild outback. With respect to the weather, on a good day it "fines up" to a "top" of 22 degrees. To be "crook" is to feel sick and to be "chuffed" is to be really pleased and proud. "Dinkum" means to be real, true or honest, and "fair dinkum" said after an outrageous story means "this is no lie". A "dunny" is a toilet, and here men don't go "see a man about a dog," rather they "spend a penny" or "kill a snake." "Grouse" is the rough equivalent of "awesome," and "extra grouse" is "totally awesome." To be "knocked up" means to be tired and that you should take a "kip" or a nap. A "mob" is any group to which you don't belong - that mob in the yacht club or the mob in Canberra. "Me mum" translates as "my mother." If you strike it rich, or if you figure out how to remove that stubborn bolt so you can get on with the easy part of the job, then "you'll be laughing." To "shout" a drink is to buy a round. "Tucker" is a general word for food and you can have "beaut tucker" or "plenty tucker" or "not enough bloody tucker." A "winge" is a long-winded whine or complaint. A "Limey" is a Brit, a "Yank" or "Yankee" is an American, and a "Kiwi" is a Kiwi - a person from New Zealand. We could go on, but you get the idea. Having mastered a bit of Aussie English, we plan to head for New Zealand next to try our hand at Kiwi. We'll be staying here on God's Little Island until the middle of March, then heading across the Tasman Sea. We will probably make landfall on the North Island in order to catch up with friends before they head back to the Pacific after cyclone season. We hope to spend an entire year in New Zealand, and while much of that time will be spent working on Hawk (Evans) and writing (Beth), we plan to see as much of both the North and South Islands as we can before heading across the Pacific in 2005. For those of you with fast Internet connections, we're including a Christmas photo of the two of us aboard Hawk in the D'Entrecasteaux Channel taken by our friend Dorothy Darden from their catamaran Adagio. We hope that the holiday season finds you happy and healthy and enjoying this special time with friends and family. We continue to be Internet accessible, so please feel free to contact us at this address.
Peace and joy to you all, Beth and Evans