|Mermaids in paradise on the Sunshine Coast|
|Matthew realising he has just been swimming with a goanna|
There's an election coming up and I wouldn't be able to vote even if I were allowed to. This truly is the best system I have ever seen. Things work. Well. And if you want to whinge about it, absolutely fine, there is always room for improvement. But it's still by and far the best system I have seen.
There is no right wing as Americans understand it. Uncle Doug would call em commies and more commies. But it'd take a really strong Republican to come here and see how well this system works - the medicare and social services - and say no to that peace of mind.
But whatever it is, Australians are nicer to each other than any other people I have ever met. They are what Americans would like to be, consider themselves to be, and possibly once were and could be again if they were able to slow down and stop taking themselves too seriously.
|Life is good.|
The Europeans consider this niceness childish naivete. But they could learn something from it.
There were instances of courtesy and even friendliness in Germany. But I remember almost every one. The guy who did offer to help me get the twin stroller into the back of the car. The lady who didn't cut in front of us in line at Subway. And...oh darn, there have GOT to be more.
Mostly I remember the stares I got as I tried to negotiate the twin stroller through a crowded bier garten; everyone observing curiously but not one person out of hundreds actually getting up to help move their stuff out of the way.
I remember being the only woman on a business flight from Stuttgart to Paris - NEVER EVER EVER EVER FLY THROUGH CHARLES DE GAULLE EVER - when I finally just carried 15 month old Andrew AND his stroller down three flights of stairs to get to the plane - with 3 1/2 year old Ryan carrying our bags behind me - while the plane load of men followed meekly behind.
Maybe someone would have helped me if I'd asked. But they certainly weren't volunteering.
|Intrepid explorers at the swimming hole|
This comes as no shock to anyone who has ever lived in Europe. Europeans might not even see anything wrong with it. (The secret is not to make eye contact. Without eye contact you can pretend that person next to you doesn't even exist!) But Australians are absolutely floored.
Let me tell you about my weekend as an example.
On Friday I was in a store with Ian checking out something on the shelves when he dropped my keys. (Honestly, he can't be trusted to hold onto ANYTHING!) I've had a sore foot and he's getting heavy so I stalled bending over to pick them up. I've spent almost a decade in Europe so I really didn't think much of it.
Until a man came running down the aisle to pick them up for me.
I felt so lazy I apologised. "I guess I should be able to pick up my own keys."
"No worries, love, you've got the baby."
From a young man in his 30s. How tres un-chic of him.
|Aussies thinking the intrepid explorers are crazy|
On Saturday morning Damon and I were shopping with Ian when an older lady came running across the mall to me. This didn't shock me at all and I was ready to hand Ian over to this perfect stranger for a cuddle. All the ladies here want cuddles. Some just like to smell his head. (Ah, the pressure to bathe the baby before we hit the shops!)
Instead she bent over to adjust my top. I had been breastfeeding Ian (discretely, but IN PUBLIC!) just a short while before and my belly was still showing.
"There you go, love. I've been there myself."
And off she went.
|The view. Somewhere Sunshine Coast-ish.|
Saturday afternoon I was again out shopping with Ian when it started to pour. Making casual conversation, I asked him how it is we were going to manage an umbrella, the grocery cart and keeping him dry, when a man in his late 40s came over to us and offered to help us to our car.
This are not just random occurrences. This is what happens here.
And the only people in the world who are luckier than the Australians themselves are the people who've come here from other places and know how rare this is and how lucky we are to be here.