Monday, February 16, 2015

Fauna & Flora

Today's big event was meeting up with a friend of a friend's for a while. She introduced me to the city's free river ferry service, and I got to tug up the river with her for an hour or so as she pointed out different city areas and points of interest from our seats. It was a really lovely ride - the two riverbanks teeming with life that hug the river banks are fascinating to watch change and alter as the boat skims the water. The river's meandering really come to life when you're actually on the water because one second the CBD is right in front of you and disappears behind you, only to reappear in front of you again when you make it around a large bend.

While we walked around we discussed the wildlife (both fauna and flora) in the area. This place really is quite wild, and Australians (or, at least Brisbanites) like to keep it that way. Trees are protected with stone walls to cover the bases, and animals have a whole slew of rights that actually surprised even me (because of the Nature Conservancy Act of 1992, if you're curious).

For example, it is a major offense if you kill any animals. At all. No killing lizards trespassing in your house, or potentially lethal snakes that might take your backyard hostage. They talk about these things on the news here. I've heard a story of a guy who found a python in his garage, and the authorities informed him that he must keep an eye on the python (KEEP AN EYE ON IT?!) until the Snake Removal Services came and coaxed the massive thing out of his house. Killing it would have put him in some major trouble. Also, a logger recently accidentally killed a koala sitting in a tree he felled. It's a common occurrence in logging, apparently, Welp, those people have to pay major fines for it, and can lose their jobs as a result.

There are also these curious trees called Moreton Bay Fig Tree. These things are pretty large, and the branches end up growing back down to the ground and become roots (Apparently those are called aerial root shoots). They end up looking kind of like a forest of trees instead of one tree with exposed roots. They're around the parks here a lot, and I'm fascinated. Similarly, there's a tree here that shoots straight up, and the pollinated seeds are at the very tippity-top of its tall body. The tree ends up rotting and falls to the ground at some time, planting only then the seed on the top where it falls. As Miami Dave says, it is kind of like the tree walks over time.

The new friend and I ended up walking around South Bank, and I got a small cup of ice cream. It was almost $7 for the thing! I choked a bit while I counted the cash. Luckily it was creamy and delicious, so the splurge wasn't so bad. If you care to know, it was nitrogenized ice cream - they make a creamy custard, and mix it up with dry ice! It comes out smooth like gelato and has less ingredients as other ice creams.

At the end of the day, though, things are expensive here. Like ice cream. And the rest of the food one buys for a week. And the bus cards. And car petrol. And electricity. Shall I keep going? I ran errands earlier this morning, and swallowed hard when I found out face soap would cost me $12 for a small bottle. I spent 10 minutes in front of the sunblocks debating which one was more cost effective. I am grabbing every discount card I come across  (I've currently counted 5 in my wallet). I'm used to having a salary and buying things that I like...even splurging...but here? I am going to have to be extremely careful (even stingy!) with my cash.

Last thought: It's always difficult feeling sick in a foreign country. I might get annoyed with American healthcare and gripe about the cost of medicine, but I always know where to go and what to do if I don't feel well. I know I'm over-generalizing a very complicated topic here (I'm not going to get involved in that larger discussion), but it's just easier to feel more comfortable at home. Kenyan Peter and I were talking about this a few days ago; it's simply nicer to feel sick in your home country. If you need a doctor in a foreign country, it can get very stressful as you hunt for a "good" doctor. In your home country, you can go to just about anyone because you know generally what you're getting, no matter what. Even with medicine can be concerning because options vary between countries. In the US, I head straight to the aisle where I can buy the product I know works for me. Elsewhere? It's a learning process with trial and error, which you really don't want to manage when you feel gross.

I mention this because I have a stomach ache from something I cooked earlier today, and I am rationing my Rolaids in case I can't figure out an option in Brisbane soon.

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