GETTING TO THE OUTBACK: Hours 1—31

Took only 67 hours or so….

I landed in LA, from NY, just in time to receive a call from our camera guy, Justin, who was held up at check-in by emigrations. Visa issues. My fault? The Tourism board’s fault? Who can really be certain?

Besides, what kind of adventure would it be if it didn’t start with major troubles that that could suffocate the trip’s success? “Illegally entering the country”, just lurking and stalking in the faint distance for the next couple of weeks.?

We were hired by the Australia government and being held up by the Australia government….. Oh irony, how comical yet bitter you are!

I was assuring my team this was just a hiccup, nothing but some slight confusion. It will soon resolve.

I was lying. I contemplated the problem, and I felt like my back was against a wet, slippery, unclimbable rock wall, while wading in croc-infested waters. There was nobody to step in with a solution. The problems would surely domino. Tomorrow I’d be on AU soil, and the problem would be in LA. The government would be off-duty on a Sunday. The entire itinerary would be thrown into tizzy.

So, the problem needed to be solved, now…………….I ruminated in disappear. A pretty Aussie chick offered me Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, unobservant of my hysteria. I accepted the Reeses.

After an hour of agita, I conceded Justin wasn’t getting on the booked flight. Working with an off-hours government consulate and a hard-nosed emigrations, I pressed my own luck with the Virgin Airlines crew. I was making phone calls from the tarma, because, for heaven’s sake, I was about to be out of communication for the next 16 hours!

Therefore, I continued to ignore and annoy the host of this rapidlyn approaching 16-hour-isolated from civilized land, soaring far and above the Pacific’s expansive blue. It’s true what John Madden says about airplanes, “once the wheels go up, we are all hostages.”

It was time to fly. The stewardess fetched a higher ranked crew member to explain to me that my flagrant disregard for the flight’s safety was not going to be tolerated. Justin confirmed he was getting on a redeye to Brisbane and forwarded me a picture of the boarding pass. I smiled, shut my phone and thanked the flight crew for being so patient with me.

Joey – one. The forces of improvidence – ZERO!

The man seated next to me managed to look smart and interesting, even though he was neither. He gave me a pouty mug and explained that shutting the phones when told was “a matter of safety”. I decided not to tell him I didn’t give a single emu shit. I’ve never once heard of a plane crashing because of handheld electronic usage. Have you?

The two year old Indian girl next to me, Olivia, wanted to play and laugh. I had flashed her funny faces earlier when I was trying not to freak out. She and I played peek-a-boo and made animal noises for about an hour. Oh did we laugh! But, just like most women I attract, she wanted too much from me, I became jaded, and the relationship fizzled.

I’m going to AUSTRALIA’S OUTBACK!

[My mind drifted]

“Virgin airlines, a marvel of ergonomics” I thought, as I slumped into my much needed slumber. After sleeping but 5 of the last 48 hours, I conked out easily.

Justin ended up getting grilled upon arrival to Brisbane. As if we haven’t all been interrogated by the government in a new land.

20-something yo male, dark features, travels alone… Last name MECCA.  Yeah, I know the dance.

We landed early morning.  The city of Sydney drenched in un-O-zoned, spring sunshine. I was in a trance, absorbed by impending adventure. It’s as if the curtains had risen and I just walked on stage! Our bus driver’s accent was too think to decipher. This doesn’t usually happen to me. The luggage guy was of Chinese descent and his accent was  Chinese Australian. That was my first clue that we had time-warped into an alternative universe. I’ll explain later…

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