When I got out of the airport in Perth, the sky was an intense shade of blue, deeper than anything I've ever seen, and the heat was so opressive I almost fell down. I stared around at everything, blinking like an owl out inthe sun, trying to sort out how I had gone from cold temperatures to warm, how everything felt upside down, and tried to sort out how to get myself and everything I own into a cab.
I remember staring out the cab window and being confused at the colour of the dirt, and then realising it was sand.
"Ah, yes," said the cabbie, who told me later he was from Eastern Europe. "Everything in Perth is covered in sand. The whole city is built on sand!"
It's interesting, because sand gets into everything, everwhere, and I still haven't made it to the actual beach. So far I've gotten as far as the ferry terminal on a Saturday afternoon and no place else. But in my defense, I got to Perth on a Saturday and had a job on Monday and a flat the following week, and everything has been busy, busy, busy, trying to get myself together. It's been hard to write about this adventure, mostly because the adventure hasn't given me any breathing room yet.
I'm told Perth is the third windiest city in the world, and every wind here seems to have a name. There's the Freemantle Doctor which blows in, all cool and sweet, during the afternoons, and the Easterlies which come in off the whole of Australia, carrying all that heat with them and batter against the windows of my tiny flat as though they want to blow me back to Scotland.
I've been here since the day after Australia Day, and everything still has this dreamlike quality to it. I keep waiting to wake up, to find out that I'm back in Scotland, or back in Canada, or someplace else, because this has just seemed so off from all of my other moves. I've barely explored the city, but I've gotten many comments on my "strong Canadian accent". I hear it's "cute". (I've never been told I have a Canadian accent by people before, except Americans when traveling in the US, and that doesn't count.)
Every other store has a large sign alerting people that it has air conditioning (and it's on!), the buses in the city are free (and have air conditioning), and the stores all close at, to me, ridiculously early times. Parts of this already seem like old hat.
The major street near my flat has a "Duck Crossing" sign on it. The sky is a perfect shade of blue, and on Saturday I'm going down to the beach to do nothing except hunt for mermaids.
Sand, eveywhere it's blowing sand, instead of snow.
And it's February.