Sunday, March 10, 2013

Wonder in Alice Land

The locals call it, "The Alice".  A jumping off point to the Outback, the town of Alice Springs is a wonderful mixture of historical charm, art shops, and modern stores.  An active town, there is a golf course ranked as one of the top ten desert courses in the world, a YMCA, Aquatic Centre and lots of clubs and groups that appeal to all demographics.

Come on a walkabout!
View of The Alice from the top of Anzac Hill at dusk

The MacDonnell Range

Left: Northern Territory flag  Right:  Australian flag

Pain at the pump -- prices are per liter

Love this -- outside a "Second Hand" store!
The Todd River is usually dry but does flood.  There is a "regatta" held every August as a fundraiser.
Aquatic Center with more than 6 indoor and outdoor pools
I've done more exercise in a week here, than the previous 6 months in Zambia.  It  is roughly a 1.7 km walk to the shops from our apartment, and in 35+C heat, makes for a good workout!  I also started attending aquasize classes 3 times a week and am really enjoying it.  The last time I did aquasize was in the 1980s and we used bleach bottles filled with water as dumbbells.   Things have changed and it feels great to work the kinks out of my joints.

Aborigines are a visible minority and it is clear many resources and laws are in place to address the social issues affecting them and the community.  The crime rate goes up when the sun goes down, yet during the day, I walk freely throughout the town.  It is fascinating to learn how the arrival in Australia of this indigenous group dates back, in conservative estimates, to 40,000+ years ago.  Their artwork is beautiful and sold throughout the country.

Several areas, trees and buildings have been designated as cultural or sacred sites
A program aimed at kids that should be in school instead of wandering around the shops

There are many liquor laws in place that are mainly enforced in the Aboriginal population although liquor stores have very limited hours of operation.
We were invited to attend an Aussie Rules football game on Saturday night to see Sam Butler, Craig's nephew play for the Westcoast Eagles.  Professional teams play exhibition games in communities without a club, and so it was a stroke of luck his team came to Alice.  The game was played at night because of the heat and the police were in full force in case the crowd got too rowdy.  However - it wasn't anything like in Colombia where the soccer stadium had armoured tanks and police in riot gear on game day!
Families were out in full force to watch the game.  The stands weren't big enough for the crowd, so we either sat or stood wherever there was room.

Jake giving Roger a lesson on the application of tomato sauce over the meat pies that are sold at the game -- and apparently part of the tradition!  Craig and Jenna look on to see if he is doing it right!
Everyone was excited to see the professionals play

Aussie Rules used to have a reputation of making rugby look soft but it's changed over the years to where it is a very fast moving game without cheap tackles or fights.  

Early on the Eagles had the lead, but it sadly slipped away as the game went on leading to their defeat.

A young Westcoast fan

Roger, Craig and Jenna
Some of the Eagle's players came into a restaurant where we were having breakfast on Sunday -- Chloe is one of their youngest groupies

Grocery shopping continues to be a joy to do -- the stores are so clean, well stocked and the variety is endless!  I swear I spent 10 minutes deciding on what type of Greek yoghurt to try as there was so much to choose from.

Shrimps ready for the barbie
You've got to love the brand name of these desserts!
It's been a great week.  Having Craig, Jake, Jenna and Chloe here is wonderful and just having the freedom to walk around has lifted my spirits.  We're learning to embrace all things Aussie, although the slang often leaves us with a quizzical look on our faces, but it really cracks us up.

So, I will leave you with one of Roger's favourite sayings (taught by his mentor, Craig) when describing how well he is doing:

"I'm as flash as a rat with a gold tooth".
                                                           Craig Stratford

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