Merry Chrissy from Brissy
24 December 2009 | Brisbane, Australia
In the Land Down Under, everything gets abbreviated. Or suffixed with a "Y". Or both. Hence the title of my little composition. Translation: Merry Christmas from Brisbane, Australia.
We arrived in Brisbane about 2 weeks ago, after a calm, mellow, smooth, drama-free passage from New Caledonia, 800 miles to the Northeast. I emphasize the ease of the trip because we had tied ourselves into knots worrying about the conditions. Would the seas be rough? Would the wind be on the nose, or the gusts too strong? Would Sophie throw up on the leeward side of the boat (preferable), or would she vomit to windward, only to have those chunks of Top Ramen arc gracefully back into the cockpit. Valid questions, all.
But as it turned out, our "last run of the day" as Nancy called it was a good one. No trauma, no breakage, no airborne noodles. Just nice, downwind trades pushing us slowly but surely to the land of abbreviations.
Brisbane is on the Eastern seaboard of Australia, roughly halfway up the coast. Sydney and Melbourne are (a long way) to our South, and Darwin is (a long way) to our North. Oz is a very big place. Our first bit of business, once we visited with our friends on Tin Soldier and Bob, was to explore the city. Or at least the parts that interested us. Brissy is a thriving, modern city of well over 1 million people. Originally settled on the banks of the Brisbane river, it has spread far and wide, but at its heart it is still a river city. The downtown core, the prime shopping and dining venues, the main entertainment hubs, are all centrally located around the river. With the exception of Jack London Square in Alameda/ Oakland, and our time in San Diego, we haven't had Meridian in this type of urban environment for quite some time. I'm sure the excitement will soon dull, but right now its still very intoxicating being so integral to the flurry of activity here.
And that activity includes all the hullabaloo surrounding Christmas. Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas and everything it stands for, both old and new. From its importance in people's faith and lives, to the gross commercialization that culminates with me getting presents, I love it all. But Christmas is a WINTER thing. Snowmen, Christmas trees, steaming mugs of eggnog...let's face it, Christmas is a cold-weather sport.
So when I tell you that its 8:00 on Christmas morning, and its already 90 degrees, with an intense sun reflecting off the highrises and sandy beaches, something just isn't right. Seasonal attire here isn't comprised of wool hats and mittens, its primarily tank-tops and shorts. Yesterday I saw Santa water-skiing. Bing Crosby would be disappointed...if you discount the perfect sand beaches, nobody here is dreaming of a white Christmas. Summer is in full force in the land down under, and its just plain weird to be celebrating Christmas with sunglasses on.
In the next few weeks, we'll take stock of our situation and decide what our future plans hold. In the meantime, perhaps a little land-travel is in order. Both Nancy and I would like to get to Sydney, perhaps by train. Yes, we'll take the girls, but only because we're legally obligated to.
So, as we slather on the sunscreen, know that we are thinking about all our friends and family back home, and wishing you all a Merry Chrissy.