I want to call this post “Apocalyptic Australia,” but that would be exaggerating — we are merely drenched at the moment by the remnants of tropical storm Oswald, not drowning.
Last night, we watched the fireworks for Australia Day down on Brisbane’s waterfront. Pouring rain kept most people away, so we had a great spot at the water’s edge, right in front of the boat launching the display. It was smokey and wet, and beautiful!
We came home absolutely soaked, and here we are, the next day, and we’re not really dry yet. The rain is leaking through our bedroom ceiling in our dumpy basement apartment, and everything just feels soaked — the furniture seems damp, our laundry won’t dry, and even the cover of Matt’s passport curled because of the extreme humidity. I have two soaked books, caught in the dripping from the ceiling, that are cooking in the oven at the moment.
And yet, we have yet to see anything really bad: the flooding in Cairns to the north, heat waves to the west that required the national meteorological agency to add a new color to their temperature maps, fires in the interior and to the south, and more — we’re hundreds of kilometers away from any of these extreme events, which are happening almost all at the same time on this huge continent/country. It’s like watching forest fires in California while the Midwest floods.
But coming from a temperate world, this humidity and storming is alien to me. People here just know how to live with this — the damp and the smells of mold and more — and that’s obviously true of most tropical countries. (Think Bangladesh and regular flooding.) We love what we grow up with, when it comes to our comfort zones.
I’m not sure I like this damp, hot storminess (it is nice to be warm while walking in the rain, but after a while, being wet just sucks). I might like it better if I lived in an apartment with air conditioning and without leaks. But the folks who are used to the poor construction here and lack of insulation think this is just fine, probably.
One side benefit of being here for Australia National Day, in the middle of the rainy season: Cockroach races! At the Story Bridge Hotel. (And perhaps this is another sign that this country is semi-apocalyptic, considering that cockroaches will survive the human race.) I confess that I was excited about all this, even though my companions were less so. We saw two races (or at least the sideshow alongside, including the cameraman stepping on two contestants, the Scottish pipe marching band, and drunken Australians, several beers in by midafternoon) before the downpour cut the events short (that didn’t stop the drinking).
Fortunately, we didn’t have our own cockroach to bring and enter… they might be hiding from the rain in the apartment upstairs.