Thursday, February 12, 2009
Enroute Sydney, Australia
For ten hours, the view out my window does not change. Silver wing, blue Pacific, white clouds. At least I have time to focus on work. The sum total of my research material, an outdated Australia Lonely Planet, sits thick as a phone book on my lap. I read and underline and scribble notes of anything that might make a decent picture.
The blue sky vanishes as soon as we near Sydney. The city lies under a thick deck of purple clouds, and rain slashes the window. It takes hours to sort out rental car, cellphone and hotel, thanks to a small miscalculation of arrival dates. What’s with the whole dateline thing anyway?
Emily, the high-borne British woman inside my gps, seems flummoxed by Antipodean navigation, and starts sounding cross as I weave up and down one way streets in downtown rush hour traffic. Even the cabbies give me a wide berth.
For $35 I park the car in the hotel’s bowels and consider leaving it there for the duration. My four star room looks out on an air shaft, and I gently nudge a roach back into the hallway. Lacking the requisite power adapter, I recharge my laptop in the shaver outlet, grab camera bag and tripod as darkness descends and hit the streets. Time to get to work.
The further I walk from the hotel, the harder it rains, until a monsoon hits at Circular Quay. Soaked and sullen, I manage to hail a cab and slink back to the hotel. I smell smoke in the room. The outlet is blistered and smudged black from the small electrical fire I've set. The roach is on its back, waving its little legs.
I'm worried it might be smoke inhalation, but least someone seems happy to see me.