[November is National Blog Post Month -NaBloPoMo. This year I have joined the band wagon. I am committed to posting every day in November.If I can do this then I rule! This is day 1, 29 days to go.]
I wake next to my husband Joe in our camper in Nitmuluk national park. I hear a twig crack outside. A few days earlier I would have tensed immediately and started praying the Protection prayer. I’m surprised that I feel calm tonight. There is another rustle, then silence. A wallaby. I remember seeing them for the first time a couple of days back. At first we pulled over and clicked a dozen pictures. A few miles down the road, we realized they were everywhere we went.
That last beer I drank was a mistake. I pull the sleeping bag closer to myself, but that doesn’t help the tension growing in my bladder. I wake my sleeping husband. “Joe I need to pee.” “Don’t think about it“, came his helpful reply. He rolls over and resumes snoring. I’m on my own. The tension in my bladder worsens. To be honest I am very nervous. Our plans to drive/camp in the top end of Down Under was more adventurous than I’d imagined. Being first time campers it took us a good half hour and a patient Frenchmen to light the stove. Lighting a bonfire would come much later, when it was almost time to leave. While everyone else was looking for secluded swimming pools we would be on the lookout for pools with people. The signs at the swimming holes stating ‘Reduced risk of crocodiles’ was not encouraging enough. In as crowded swimming hole should a croc attack there would be plenty of meat to choose from and if we should be the unfortunate ones there are witnesses to relay the information back home. I grope in the darkness for the torch to check on the time. It is 11:28pm. I slowly slide out of our makeshift bed to make the trip to the restrooms by myself. The restrooms are a trek away and there is narrow path surrounded by thick vegetation to cross. I remember reading somewhere that of out of 10 things in Australia 9 will kill you. I suddenly don’t feel so brave anymore. The more I try to drift back to sleep the tighter my bladder feels. I wake my husband again. “ I am tired,” he says. He has every right to be tired; he did most of the canoeing today when we paddled through the Katherine gorge . I was all excited about canoeing till I asked the lady at the canoe counter, “Are there any crocs here?” “Oh hundreds of them,”s he said casually. “But they’re all freshies. Won’t harm ya”. Whenever I tried to help paddle, we went perpendicular to our intended path, often crashing into the beach. The first time I looked up to see a sign: ‘Crocodile Nesting Ground’. I didn’t know what terrified me more the 5000AUD fine for trespassing or the possibility of seeing the crocodiles themselves. I turn on my back and wonder if bladders really do explode. The celebratory beers for making it back alive from the gorge seems like one too many now. “Please Joe. I really need to go”. I keep pleading till an annoyed Joe throws his sleeping bag away , opens the camper door and steps out in a gruff. Meekly I follow him. Outside the darkness greets us. In the daytime the whole place is bustling with activity. Smoke from barbeque grills, sounds of guitar notes and melodies. Stories being exchanged, camper leaving, campers coming and children playing. But in the night you’d never know from the utter stillness that there are about a hundred camper vans parked neck to neck. “Look at the stars,” I say. Joe is not in a looking mood. He just shoves his hands in his boxer pockets and looks away. We walk in silence to the restroom. On our way back from the restroom we hear a slight movement up ahead. . Images of black adders and tarantulas come to mind. I quickly get behind Joe. I can feel he tense too. He shines the torch in the direction of the movement. The light catches a wallaby with a piece of broccoli between his teeth. “Stupid creatures,” Joe curses. Before he can complete his sentence we almost stumble over a couple of baby wallabies scavenging for left over food right outside our camper. They startle, jump right at us and dash off to collide with a trash can. Joe and I both laugh – and I know I am forgiven for needing to pee in the middle of the night.