Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Darwin Airport

1 May 2013
Before I go into what our trip to Singapore has been like, I wanted to finish up with Darwin.

The newspaper seems to focus on deadly animals in the Top End - there was the 2.5 meter crocodile that bit a French sailor on the head and neck and back when he swam to tie up a dingy.  (Complete with photos.)  The two young boys in shallow water being stalked by a croc, and when one saw the croc and yelled out, the croc turned and grabbed their young pit bull.  (Sad story, I know!)  The shark stalking "fishos" (fishermen) in the harbour.  The hockey player killed by a brown snake he apparently took away from some children.  And then some more snake stories.  Reminding people to call the animal people to come get the snakes and crocs, and don't try to catch the yourself.

Seems obvious, no?

Well, I'm not Aussie.  I'm not a tough person used to life in the Top End.  Well, and after two years in Liberia, I've learned to be very afraid of snakes.  (That's another story.)  But seriously, when I hear that there are more venomous snakes here than on any other continent, I KNOW I'm not touching a snake.  Or when I'm told that the 11 deadliest snakes (of the top 12) live here, I KNOW I'm not getting anywhere near a snake!

Or a croc.  Have you seen those teeth?  I knew I wouldn't swim much of anywhere when I saw my first croc story in the paper.

But as I said, I don't live in the Top End, this hasn't been my version of normal for most of my life, and so I haven't gotten accustomed to crocs and snakes and giant spiders.  So what can I say, I guess people get used to what's around them, and maybe aren't always as cautious as the environment warrants.

 The Darwin airport - very cool benches outside, which sort of set the tone for the decor inside.  I just really liked these benches with the cutouts on each end.

And then the gift shop, so you can spend the last of your Aussie dollars before flying off to Singapore or Bali - on exciting stuff like spicy kangaroo jerky.  Or crocodile jerky.  Or emu jerky.  
No thank you.  Sorry, but kangaroos are cute, even though they're considered a pest here - and I try not to eat anything so cute.  And crocodiles are like sharks - my theory is that if I don't eat them, maybe they won't eat me.  Seriously, I won't eat shark.  Or crocodile.

Emu?  That one is a maybe.  I've eaten ostrich, which actually is pretty good.  So maybe emu.

Maybe.  But probably not.

Because I don't think trying new food before flying is a good idea.  Just in case it doesn't sit easily in the stomach.

My favorite part of the Darwin airport was the carpet.  Seriously wonderful carpet.  I have no idea how they did this, but it's one gigantic carpet that shows some animals of the area.  Down at the bottom, by the uncarpeted walkway, we begin with the lobsters (or crayfish or crawfish, as some people here call them).  Then the long-necked turtles - which actually live in fresh water, but never mind, we aren't being technical or scientific here, we're being poetic in a visual kind of way.

Then some big giant fish.  This might be the barramundi that are here - it's one of those fish that live both in fresh and salt water, they get really huge, and it's a local delicacy.  Fried barra and chips are a classic.  (It's a very small-flaked white fish - not solid like tuna or swordfish, more like flounder maybe.  Tasty, but it 
flakes into very small pieces, very easily.)

Then some shore birds, I'm not sure exactly what.  Just a long-legged shore bird that might or might not be an accurate portrayal of a real heron, or pukeko, or ibis, or something.

Then parrots, or cockatoos, or some kind of big dark bird with the beak and face of the parrot family.  There are all kinds of parrot family birds here - lorikeets, rosellas, I don't know what else.  No macaws, but more cockatoos than I've ever seen in my life.  Some are dark, like this - they probably didn't want the white cockatoos in a carpet for an airport, they'd get too dirty.  There ARE black cockatoos here, so I'm guessing that's who these birds are.

And then the hummingbirds, who are as colorful and surprising and inspiring as hummingbirds everywhere - just industrious and happy little birds in all kinds of bright colors!

Just beyond the hummingbirds are the huge windows looking out on the planes and landing strips.  Open sky.  The great beyond.

It really is a very cool airport, and I just loved that carpet!

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