Friday, January 14, 2011

Calamity Pam

Sometimes it might be better not to have travelled quite so much. Today's news was pretty uniformly bad, and having connections with the places where it was happening made it seem that much worse.

Even though Brisbane's flood levels didn't reach the high predicted, it was quite bad enough, with 26,000 houses drenched, huge damage everywhere including to the lovely places we walked so recently, and so much debris washing down the river that there are fears the Great Barrier Reef will cop some of it. And of course, the deaths, the featured stories just heartbreaking; and so many more people still missing.

Then down in Greymouth the police announced tonight that they are calling a halt to the recovery attempt and sealing the mine with the 29 men's bodies, what remains of them, still inside. The mine is so volatile even now, two months later, that it's just too dangerous to think about entering: 4 explosions and a fire so far. The families, and everyone else on the Coast, will be downcast, having clung to hope for so long. It's been raining there today, the hills hidden in low cloud, the sea grey, the bush a dull green.

And then, different but disturbing, there's the report of the murder of an Irish woman honeymooning in Mauritius, who disturbed hotel staff thieving in her room when she went into it, and was strangled, while her husband of two weeks sat in the dining room waiting for her return. And that was at Legends hotel in the north, where I stayed last year: where Matthew Flinders' cat came visiting, where my bed was covered in an intricate pattern of bougainvillea blooms, where a friendly attendant came to my door in the evening to shave jasmine-scented soap for my bath. Awful.

I was asked today if I'd like to go to Malaysia, to the east coast islands, for a bit of snorkelling and scoffing of seafood, and beach-side massage. Maybe it would work out better for Malaysia though if I stayed at home.

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