Noi6 means "the 6 of us" in Romanian.

We are five, you are the sixth one.

We thank you for joining us in our trip around the world...

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A New Campervan

Near Darwin: We pick out a powered campsite, probably somewhere near Litchfield, and relax a bit before a dinner of pasta.

The mosquitos are lethal here. Ileana went out to wash the dishes and came back after only five minutes, looking desperately throughout the camper for the repellent. Her back was bright red. I've got more bites on my legs than I know what to do with. It's so hot that our clothes are sticking to us and I don't even mind the oppressive heat and humidity any more… I just try to avoid heat rash— the sweat heats up and then you get a burn in the worst of places— knees, thighs, armpits… mostly thighs, since we walk all the time. It's annoying. 

And it gets hot in the day. We are almost liquid if we ever don't have the AC on.

And now a short detour into ACs. It can be air conditioner (only ever used formally), AC (American), Air Con (more often used everywhere else), or A-Con (possibly more often in Australia, Melbourne, than anywhere else).

Isn't it fantastic how we invent words for words? And how much they differ everywhere. I'm not sure which I like the most.

Back to liquidness. Sweat generally runs everywhere. The seats beneath us get wet if the AC isn't on, the palms get sweaty and it's suddenly much harder to read… it's terrible. A refreshing breeze is absolute heaven. We stopped to eat some sandwiches, and closed the curtains between the driver's section and the house section of the RV, ate our sandwiches… and prepared to take off. It was very very hot, and very very uncomfortable. Then, Mom opened the curtain between the drivers' side and the house side, and suddenly there was a breeze of cold air. A breeze.

You start not minding the heat after a while… there's nothing much you can do if you want to stay sane, but when a breeze comes, and the sweat starts drying off… it's pure heaven.


I'm an anomaly whenever I'm in a hot climate, because when I'm there I can do without ice cream, cold drinks, pools, etc. In average climates, I can live very happily with an open chocolate box and some fruit. On second thought, cross out the fruit. In cold climates… I can sometimes live without complaining about the cold for a few minutes.

But it's hot weather, so I'll focus on that. It's so strange to have been in Alice Springs last week, where our fingers were cold and I was wearing my long-sleeved icebreaker and everything was reeeaaally cold, and then start driving and going north, of all places, and be so hot you can't stand it.

Except, of course, you can.

I have no problem eating ice cream and drinking hot drinks. The problem is when I have to dig out my bathing suit, shave my legs (one lovely part of traveling is that you never see the same people next day… so why shave?), get wet, get dry, leave the bathing suit (wet, of course) lying around the place until it dries, take a shower because there's chlorine or mud in the pool or waterhole, sweat a lot because it's still hot out, and then take another shower at night when it's not so hot.

Generally the only way people can get me to go to the pool (or waterhole) is to guilt me into it. Many's the time Ioan has said, "Let's go to the pool! (Or the beach!)"

Mom's ready to take him to the pool, but Ileana and I will want to stay at home.

"Let's go, Ioan!"

"But I don't want to go alone!"

"But I'm coming with you." Mom will say,

"But…" and he turns to me. "Come on…" he wheedles, "We'll have fun, and I want to play with you, and we can dive, and have swimming races, and—"

"I'm not going."

"But pleaaaase!"

This is about the point when I kinda sorta think it might be sounding fun, but really don't want to take the trouble of that entire list up above.

I shake my head.

"Please please please pleaaaase!"

"Oh, alright."

The parents haven't fully figured this out, of course, and I'm losing quite a lot by posting it on the blog, which only they read (Ioan will probably never know that he just has to ask about three more times [I'm usually silently telling him to] and I'll do just about anything he wants)… but it leads into what I'm going to say next.

I enjoy myself at the pool— I've never not, but this time, the 'pool' was a… pond… waterhole… thing, with a hike of 1.7 km over rocks and stones and streams and such. Yes… I can hike 2km for a book, but hiking 1.7 km to get into freezing water merely to oblige the entire family… no thank you. But of course after twelve hours of discussing and discussing and discussing, I don't put up much fight. Mom managed to guilt me into it while we were in different shower cubicles, discussing. She probably wasn't doing it on purpose, of course.

So there is the water hole, after climbing and jumping and calculating jumps. Those of us who haven't taken off our shoes already take them off, pull off our shirts, pull down our pants, and jump in. Bathing suits, of course, have been on the whole time.

Just as I get my feet in the water, getting them acclimatized to the coldness of the water (not as cold as I was expecting, but still cold), Ioan splashes me.

"MOM!" I shout, "MOM! Please take my glasses." Mom takes the glasses. "I am going to get you!" I say to Ioan. I slip around a big rock in the middle and go in the other direction, where there's a very very small waterfall that, nevertheless has quite a current.

And then it's a free-for-all. We attack each other, splashing, dunking each other under water, (there's always a tap to make us stop), splashing a bit more, threatening terrible threats…

And just when I'm getting used to the water, the parents to move up a bit higher to the next pool.

This one's incredibly deep— a dark blue teal color, with a tree branch hanging over it and a spider web considerably bigger than a beach ball, with a spider as big as my fist. That measurement is only the length of the eight legs— the actual body is about the size of a man's thumbnail.

We swim around this long, thin pool a bit, then go up to the main pool— the one with a waterfall strong enough to pummel your back in a sort of shiatsu massage. Dad likes it. I'm getting water up my nose, despite the fact that my head is down. 

Ileana, Ioan, and I start making 'big plans' as we swim. These are the really pointless, really 'cool' ideas we come up when we're all best friends (pretty rare) and we want to keep being best friends for a while longer.

The 'big idea' this time is for each of us to memorize a movie. Ileana's going to memorize Ten Things I Hate About You, I'm going to memorize Beauty and the Beast (I've only watched it 14 times), and Ioan's going to memorize Treasure Planet. 

I don't think anyone actually did it. It might have come up a week later, but it's not as if we actually set our minds to it— I'm terrible when it comes to memorizing as it is.

The camper was also interesting as I managed to read about a book a day there— despite the fact that the world was bouncing up and down and it was stifling hot and we were getting out every once in a while to look at a new pool or walk up to see more cave paintings (very interesting, not my favorite thing to do).

I finished Poor Folk, North and South, Secretariat… a lot of books, most of them for the You'll Love This One! Reading group's year-long challenge. 

This camper van is more elegant-looking than the other… but there's almost no storage space. We've got bags stuffed under the beds, things in the upper loft-bed, food in the cupboards… where do people keep their stuff? I bet most people who take a camper van have bags larger than ours, so where do they keep them? 

We didn't figure it out— maybe they kept whole bags underneath the beds and took out the absolute necessities to put them in a cupboard, or maybe they knew something we didn't. At any rate, the minuscule storage space was a bit of a disappointment. 

At one point we reached the farmer's market type of attraction. It offers food, soap, bath kits, etc, all for a 'cheap' price. Of course everything was quite expensive for us, but for local Australians everything is a bargain! I can't remember the exact costs for everything, but everything was at least $10. 

It was around this point that we also picked up our second set of hitchhikers. Two fourteen year old boys, they were walking back from wherever it was they'd had a meeting with their friends to home. It was about two miles, and we sat in the back making awkward conversation. They asked us if we had Facebook, we exchanged names… but the best part was when they left. Before I'd even closed the door, the two were ecstatically talking about the fact that two girls had just given them their FB names. (Update: As of July, I've unfriended them. Like most teenagers, their posts aren't more than, "Like to get an honest reply" or something like that. I have better things to sort through). We laughed about it all the rest of the day, enjoying the fact that we'd actually talked to someone at some point that day.

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