Tuesday 31 May 2016


'Croc horror.' It wasn't a bad effort by the NZ Herald, and a nice little nod to the Sun. It's nothing compared to the much-celebrated front-page, all-caps glories of the NT News, of course - but then, up in the Northern Territory, they get so much more practice. 'Crocky Horror Picture Show' on a story about stupid selfies with crocodiles; 'G'day, Bait!' above a photo of a croc lunging towards a fisherman; the epic 'Croc Fights Shark'; the curious 'Fish Eats Croc'; the classic 'A Croc Walks Into a Bar'; the tempting 'Win Your Own Croc'; the obvious 'Great Australian Bite'; the inevitable 'What a Croc'. (None of these can of course compete with the paper's famous winners 'Why I Stuck a Cracker Up My Clacker', 'A Pack of Dogs Ate My Car', the haunting 'Frog Struck Down by Lightning' and the unavoidably wordy 'Best Man Left Bleeding After Being Hit in Head by Flying Dildo.')

Today's story was about a New Zealand woman who's been taken by a crocodile in the Daintree, in northern Queensland. Her last words were "A croc's got me!" which at least gives her family a resonant quote to use when telling the story - as they will, over and over, for generations. Bit harsh? Maybe, but not only is she a total stranger to me, also she was stupid - she'd lived there for years, she knew the dangers, and still she and her friend chose to go swimming in the sea at night. Darwin Award winner right there.

Inconsistently, however, I'm hoping to get a story soon that will hinge on some Aussies who were too cowardly about being eaten by a prehistoric reptile - I've heard of some on an alligator-spotting tour of a Louisiana bayou who, when the boat broke down, after sarcastically playing 'Row, row, row your boat' and the 'Titanic' theme on their phones, to the boatie's irritation, then came over all panicky about being got by a gator, and insisted on being transferred to another boat. Wusses! Perfect Aussie-baiting fodder coming up...

Wednesday 25 May 2016

Laced apart

Things have been a little quiet here, blog-wise, but only because there's some good stuff coming up pretty soon, so don't go away. It all take a bit of organising - especially when there are quite a lot of loose ends to tie up from other travels. So that's had me revisiting Scotland, Gettysburg, Washington DC, Canada, England and our very own Deep South (that's a clue, son). 
I have no complaints, tasting again in memory whisky-smoked lobster and rose lemonade, clopping along on docile Robbie past Gettysburg's zigzag split-rail fences and innumerable battlefield monuments and statues (actually, 1400, near enough), puzzling out the excitement caused by nothing happening when the Washington Nationals played the Miami Marlins... It's all good stuff, with the added, literally, interest of looking up the background stuff that I always mean to research beforehand, and never do. 
But, work aside, the idea behind this blog is that everywhere you've gone becomes a part of you, and you'll be reminded of it randomly forever after (see above, right). So the main reason for this post is that I was thinking - again, but coincidentally - about Ecuador. Because the weather's turned cold, finally, and I found myself for the first time for ages tying shoelaces.
The first time I went to Quito, in 2012, I was diverted by seeing, in the main square beside the San Francisco church and monastery, an old lady selling shoelaces, all tied onto a pole that she carried around with her. I'd got used to seeing vendors of all sorts of, to me, quaint things - cellphones to rent for a call, loaves of bread on a tray balanced on someone's head - but to make a living from selling shoelaces seemed to me the most precarious of all; even more than shining shoes.
And then, when I was back there again last year, blow me down, there she was still! Possibly not still, one old lady looks much like another when you're flooded with new impressions and not paying detailed attention - but, anyway, there was someone similar presumably earning money by selling something as cheap and inconsequential as shoelaces. Except - and here is exactly the sort of small thing that delights me about travelling and finding out about other places and people - when I mentioned this to my guide, he was as astonished as I was. But what amazed him was learning that in my culture, people don't change their shoelaces every couple of weeks. When I said that I stick to the same pair for the life of the shoes, he was silent in disbelief. So there you go. Of course, this would be the perfect place for a photo of the old lady with her colourful bundle - but I didn't get one, so you'll just have to make do with the man and his tray of bread.


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