australia, day 6: 105F.

UPDATE: Turns out it was even hotter than that where we were, and a little further west, it was the hottest place on Earth.

I woke up at 5am, ever so slightly repaired, and perhaps out of habit by now decided to say “fuck it” and go see Newtown when it wasn’t full of people. “How many times are you in Australia” and all that. 

I ended up having a pretty A+ coffee and poppyseed/chocolate pastry at Shenkin, one of the only places open at 6:30am Sunday morning and highly rated by someone whose name eludes me now, and watched the street cleaners and fucked-up Australian pigeons clean the streets*.

And whilst happily slurping and nomming away to the peppy sounds of some Cuban jazz thing, I thought: we leave in a week. We can’t stay home today. “How many times are you in Australia.” I quickly came up with a plan B of just trying “no endless hiking”.

So we decided to go to the beach. There’d be a breeze. We could get in the deadly, deadly ocean if we really really needed to. Well, we would probably really really need to, given that yesterday’s prediction of 100 degrees had climbed to 105. The only real “possible swimming beach” I had on my list of possible beaches was Tamarama, about an hour away by bus. No idea why this was supposed to be less full of sharks and jellyfish and crushing waves than Bondi, one beach away, but “that’s what my notes said”.

The bus ride was hot. And there was a great part where the bus had to climb a 45-degree angled hill for about ten blocks and it slowed down to about, literally, 5mph. There was serious concern amongst the passengers about whether or not we were going to make it.

Well I say “serious concern”. I don’t think Australians are ever “seriously concerned”. They tend to laugh in the face of danger: they were literally cackling with glee after we got to the top of the hill and then plunged down the other side barreling towards the raging ocean as if our brakes didn’t work.

Tamarama: scariest ocean ever. Notice how little the heads of the people in the waves are. And, one picture up, how everyone is huddled together in fear. Literally three feet from shore you couldn’t touch the bottom, until the pulverizing undertow took all the water away and you were just scraping your ass in the rough sand, right before the next 9-foot wave scared the beejeezus out of everybody. The lifeguards were standing at the ready right there at the edge of the water, which made you feel a little better, but really, the first ten minutes in the water took some adjustment: you just had to give up trying to stay in one place and let the deadly, deadly ocean pull you into the calmer bit behind the scary-ass crests. And then try not to worry about when you’d get to touch the bottom again. Anyway the whole thing was surprisingly exhilarating and athletic, which is really good: you’re so busy with the waves you don’t even have time to worry about hundred-toothed sharks and million-tentacled jellyfish.

Then, another bus ride. Ultimately, two hours later:

A bramble at Corridor, the coldest looking drink on the menu. Ok and an unpictured Funky Cold Medina and a Gingers Feel Too or something similar.

* Those are not pigeons. They are Australian white ibis, or "bin chickens".


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