I boarded a plane in Rio de Janeiro at 3:20 p.m. on Monday, December 15, and after layovers in Santiago, Chile and Auckland, New Zealand, I touched down in Sydney, Australia at 7:45 a.m. on Wednesday. Tuesday, December 16 was a my “missing” day.
I have to admit that I breathed a sigh of relief when I realized that I will be spending the next few months in two English speaking countries. Gone are the days of pointing at other people’s meals in restaurants and never knowing if you’ll get anything close to what you wanted until it’s delivered to the table. Likewise, I shouldn’t have to perform charades to buy razor blades in a pharmacy, etc. However, soon after boarding the LAN jet in Santiago I was forced to re-think this whole thing. As I was making my way down the aisle, the guy in front of me turned and said, “tiny sites.” He may as well have been speaking Portuguese as it took me a minute to figure out that he was referring to the plane’s cramped seating and not LAN’s pathetic web site.
While “just” 27.5 hours of travel, this little act of continental drift effectively killed three days of my life. I went to the Rio airport at noon on Monday, was in the air for most of Tuesday, and due to international time zones, I didn’t land until Wednesday morning. I did get an afternoon nap and was ready for my first home-cooked meal in ages. It was great to catch up with my old friend Randall Pearce who has lived in Sydney for the last decade. I’ll see more of Randall, his partner Manfred, and dog Boris as they have invited me for Christmas and New Year’s gatherings.
Today (Thursday) I paid a visit to the Apple Store and replaced the iPhone that I lost in Peru. Apple resellers in South America don’t offer the iPhone 6 just yet, so I waited until I got here rather than purchase online and try to time its delivery. Customers at Sydney’s flagship Apple store were lined up 40 deep to pick up pre-ordered iPhones. I asked the girl who dealt with me if this was the first week they’ve been offered in Australia. She said that because of Sydney’s time zone, this store is always the first in the World to offer new products. Television crews are always there to witness the pandemonium and she made the 6 o’clock news when the iPhone 6 went on sale a full 16 hours before Apple stores opened on the east coast of the U.S.
On the way back to my Potts Point hostel I did have a much more serious moment when I stopped in Martin Place to pay my respects to the people who lost their lives in the terrorist attack on the Lindt Cafe. The sheer volume of floral tributes is staggering. I’d put the number of people who were milling around at about 1000. It was moving to say the least.