Subject: The Heat is ON!
Date: Wed, 04 Dec 2002 09:30:09 +0000
From: "-= Audacious Adventurer Al =- "

December 4, 2002 . . . Brisbane, Australia
(Today it's 36 degrees, better known to us Yanks as 102 degrees)

What's cookin' good lookin'? Certainly my volunteer team was today. We were the fab frying foreigners today baking in the sun in an unshaded area preparing a site for trees. In fact, it was so hot that we only had to work a half day! Yeah! That's sun-sational!

Have you had enough heat this year? I love it! I love it! I love it! (although it's a little excessive at the moment) Hello one, hello all! This is sun soakin' boy Al here at the Queensland State Library bustin' away from the heat typing to you for free in pleasant air conditioning. I sympathize that you're cold back there in my motherland, but let me boast that it's been steadily getting hotter here this week: 29C (92F), 31C (95F), 36C (102F). Enough about the heat; let me talk about some of my cool crazy recent events!

Thanksgiving was a big beach and barbecue day for me and my volunteer amigos. We went to a beach near Brisbane called Wellington Point after working only a half day! We had a terrific swim session playing monkey in the middle and hiking along to a nearby island along a sandbank. Afterwards, we had a sunset barbecue off a serene peaceful beach!

Have you ever drank sea water? Of course you have! I have to say that the bay water that I drank was the WORST TASTING SEAWATER that's entered my mouth in my whole life. Pollution suspicious as I was, I later discovered that the local Aussies seldom swim in the water I accidentally chugged while wrestling, dunking, and racing my volunteer friends. No worries mate! Despite an interesting bowel movement, I've recovered to my full wacko self. Nevertheless, if I ever taste water that makes my tongue tingle for hours on end, I'll be a little more inclined to make a rapid exit.

Oh - a turkey played a part in my Thanksgiving Day! Ironically, Tom the ugly wild turkey hobbled right up to me begging for an ANZAC (oatmeal) cookie. I've seen a lot of wild turkeys here in Australia and really - they're ugly! The males have this large yellow ugly piece of skin hanging from below their necks to attract females.

By some crazy circumstance or other, I was very thankful that 4 of 6 of my best volunteer mates returned to Brisbane for the weekend. Thus, we decided to celebrate by heading to the local Brisbane metro holiday beach, Stradbroke Island! Let me share some of its cool features.

Glowing sands!
At night on the beach, U.K. Sally, marine biologist, demonstrated that algae slightly below the sand surface in the tropics are phosphorescents. Yes, the sand glowed in the dark. Thus, we got to dragging our feet on the sand revealing cool streaks of light! Michael Jackson would've loved moonwalking on that beach!

Super Sealife at the Gorge and the Birdie Boogie!
At first I was bored at the muggy weathered gorge, but I was soon delighted by the sealife entertainment! Schools of dolphins surfing the waves near the beautiful gorge. I think they know humans are watching them. They were showing off doing front and back flips, many times in unison! Lots of various sized turtles bobbing along in the water looking for grub. Manta rays were gracefully skimming the sea mists of South Pacific. Little tiny black birds with long tales that appeared as if they were dancing when they shook their birdie booties! The volunteers and I kept telling the birds to do the birdie boogie for us! They were really entertaining, more than those girls doing the Ketchup Song dance!

Brisbane has turned Christmas. Cheesy Christmas commercials are haunting the airwaves! Kmart is "cutting the cost of living and giving" Coca-cola has released their Christmas themed cola. Teenage Aussie cashiers are wearing Santa caps at Burger King. There's a giant SNOWMAN at the train station. There's large cones resembling something like Christmas trees hanging along the streets of the main shopping drag. Santa is getting his pictures taken with children on his lap. Signs are outside of halls welcoming Christmas parties. Meanwhile, it's consistently 80F (26C) degrees or warmer here in the daytime and it just feels ridiculous. Even here in Australia, I'm thinking it feels like the time to be going to Wildwood, not about Silent Night. Interestingly, I learned that some Aussies like to celebrate Christmas in July. Truly, July is the Australian winter and the coldest month of the year. How cold you ask? Probably lows of 50F (10C) here in Brisbane! I really don't think the holidays will feel significant to me because they'll seem so surreal. I hear Christmas is usually a muggy horribly humid day here in Brisbane. Thus, when you're home, all snug in your bed, don't have visions of Australians with ice cold Fosters and barbeques in their head. Really, I hear that some Australians do the traditional Christmas routine with the turkey and ham cooking away here in 100F (38C) degree heat.

Keep your eyes peeled for my next couple emails - I'm sure you'll learn more about Christmas Aussie style!

I can safely say this year I've spent more time in Brisbane than any other place in Australia. Maybe I'm just becoming nostalgic, but this city has really grown on me. This afternoon I was chilling at the artificial beach right with the skyscraper background and I felt right at home. Truly though, it's the people and the experiences with them that made this place cool. Volunteering here in Brisbane & Byron Bay was the second most pungent people experience of my life, trailing only behind my university year in Ireland with my mates from house 19. You guys got to try this! I have so many fantastic memories!

It's funny now that's it's my turn to say goodbye to volunteers. Although I got bored with the work, I'm glad I kept on tree planting (btw, I planted roughly 650 trees over 2 1/2 weeks). Granted, I consider myself lucky if I maintain reciprocal correspondence with even one or two of them.

Joyfully, I have my swing (DANCING!) group at home! Do you guys miss me? Thanks for making me jealous about all the parties I've missed while I was away. Did you hold more than usual just because I was gone?

Alas, next week I'll be writing to you from a new location, quite possibly mellow relaxing Rainbow Beach.

Stay cool!
Beach-bound Allen :)

"Some like it hot; some like it cold. Some never know"
You've got a friend in . . .
| Allen Rue - traveling extraordinaire - joy seeker          |