Backlogged Day 4 of Nana/Papa visit.
After our fun weekend, Daniel went back to work and the rest of us tried not to rub it in too much that we were either (a) on vacation (my parents), (b) working a job that lets us go outside and explore the city (me), or (c) so young that every day is vacation! (Naomi)
To get a bird’s eye view of the city, Sher struck out on his own and rode the ferry alllllll the way to the end (which, in a harbor like Sydney’s takes a really long time – at least an hour one way from our place to the most inland point, and we are far from the coast.)
Meanwhile, Mom, Naomi and I headed to the zoo. We managed to catch the one bus that goes from Kirribilli to the zoo (a switch from the ferry, which is how I usually get there, which goes every hour or so). This saved us about 30 minutes, and we arrived right as the zoo opened. On the bus, we just so happened to sit across from a young mom with an infant and a toddler. This young mom happened to be someone I’d seen at the church play group last week, and since we remembered each other and chatted for awhile, it made me look like a real local to my mom. That was kind of funny, considering how not local I feel. :)
The bus driver was very helpful in telling Mom and I when to get off for the zoo, since we really had no idea what we were doing. As a side note, are most bus drivers such kind, friendly and helpful people, or is it just Australian bus drivers? I see them helping people (including me) all the time. Usually this puts them in a very positive light in my opinion… except for one driver. Get ready for a little off-topic back story.
Back in August when Daniel, Naomi and I first arrived in Sydney, we went to Costco one evening and took a bus back to the train station. We sat near the front of the bus. After we had seated ourselves and arranged all our belongings and groceries, the bus driver told us we needed to pull Naomi’s stroller out from where we’d wedged it, move 3 of the seats near it, turn it around 180 degrees, and lock its wheels completely before he would continue driving, in order to make her as safe as possible. It was slightly embarrassing, but I did appreciate his considering my daughter’s safety. Moments later, at the next stop, he picked up a young lady, and I heard him quietly telling her something as she climbed on, that dimmed her smile somewhat. I caught the words, “out closer to the street.” Then, at the next stop, the driver had another word for the next passenger embarking – this time it was clear: “Mate, you were out close by the street, but if you want to be more visible, wave your hand.” This trickle of unsolicited advice continued throughout the next several stops, and the ante was upped each time – everyone had something they could do to improve their bus hailing technique. If one waved down the driver, they could have flipped open their mobile phone to wave like a torch (flashlight) instead; if another used their mobile to wave, they could have worn a white shirt to be more visible. Personally, I found this somewhat supercilious. He was so courteous in his manner, telling each one this, but it was kind of funny to wonder just how far he took his job as a public servant.
Anyway, back to the zoo.
This was the first zoo visit when we encountered a cassowary. I did get pictures, but I was thinking I wouldn’t subject you to them, since they are just that bad (you know, overexposed and subject-is-so-small-that-it’s-just-barely-visible-even-if-it-had-been-facing-me-which-it-wasn’t. Those kind of pictures.) Besides, Daniel got some great shots of a cassowary in Cairns that I will hopefully be posting soon. A cassowary is an Australasian bird similar to an ostrich or emu in its build, except that it’s absolutely brilliantly colored, with deep blues and reds, and a big mohawkin’ horn coming out the top of its head.
Cassowaries are also dangerous, as they can inflict serious injury on humans and animals with their kick (like an ostrich). And apparently, there are several species of rain forest brush that cannot spread their seed and reproduce unless those seeds have first passed through the digestive tract of a cassowary. That lends a new prestige to fecal matter, eh? AND. Cassowaries swallow things whole, and you can see the object go all the way down its long turkey throat – apple halves and oranges and mangoes and things. They are pretty cool birds. Have I made you impatient to see Daniel’s pictures of the cassowary in Cairns yet? :)
After the cassowary, Naomi tootled around a bit. (What better audience than your mom and grandma, who will applaud no matter what you do?) We paused by the male elephant enclosure, but for some reason Naomi was adamantly opposed to staying – still not sure why, since she generally likes “effunts.”
But the gibbon in his tree caught her attention for some time. Perhaps because there were so many words within the realm of her vocabulary that could describe him – he was “up” in a “tree,” eating “yummies,” and beneath him was a pool of “wawa,” with [kiss-kiss sound… this means fish] swimming “in” it. In fact, Naomi even pointed out to us that one of the koi fish was all bloated and dead, floating belly up in the water. Not that she knew he was dead, she just pointed out that he was a “big dadn” fish (anything remotely large these days is proclaimed to be the big daddy). And he certainly was big and swollen. Yuck.
After that we took a break near a pair of statues – a gorilla mom and baby, and a human mom and baby. Naomi was completely enamored and spent a good deal of time patting all of them, giving them each lots of kisses and hugs, and pointing out each part of their anatomy, making sure they all had the basics (eyes, ears, noses, mouths, hair, etc). Unfortunately she kissed the human baby statue a bit too exuberantly and biffed her mouth on his concrete head. Poor little affectionate girl.
Then it was on to the real gorillas, where we stayed for some time. This exhibit is always a personal favorite of both Naomi’s and mine. Mom enjoyed watching them too, and found the silverback a bit alarming when he finally emerged. Quite. I had the same reaction when I first saw him. It reminds me of how I felt the first time I saw Mont Blanc – we were driving through France when suddenly there it was, lunging at me and filling the sky. It silenced me with it’s grandeur. Likewise with the Taronga Zoo silverback – he is definitely sobering, and is someone you do not want to mess with.
After awhile we heard the seal and sea lion show starting behind us, so we peeked in there briefly.
Naomi’s narration of the sea lion show:
“Eh! Eh!” (Look Mom! An animal that I don’t know the name for!)
“Up! Up!” (Now he’s climbing up onto the platform!)
Mommy: “Yes! I see him! Is he going to jump in the water?”
Naomi: “Yeah!” [No jumping; meanwhile the trainer is talking about saving the oceans and marine life by being more ecologically minded.]
“Dupp! Dupp!” (I want him to jump into the water! But that lady is still talking.)
“Dupp! Dupp!” (Enough with the talking, lady!)
[Sea lion finally jumps. Naomi watches silently with mouth open, even after everyone has started cheering.]
“In! In! Wawa!” (That animal jumped in the water!!)
“Mommy! In! Eh! Eh!” (Did you see that Mom?! That was insane!)
“Mah! Mah!” (I want him to do it again!)
After that, though, we needed to hustle to catch our ferry. We were so set on hustling that Mom and I teamed up to carry the stroller down one persnickety flight of stairs that has thus far been resistant to all my attempts to find a completely stroller-friendly exit route from the zoo. At least this time I had another set of arms to help carry it. Except … when you work with another set of arms, you have to think about coordinating, which we didn’t exactly succeed at. The result was Mom slipping and the stroller lurching forward a foot or so. :( It left both of them completely unharmed, but pretty startled (one of them in particular, namely the one in the stroller). So we took some time to comfort and calm down, and then made our way home.
Something of a harrowing ending to an otherwise fun-filled day. Naomi and I went to the zoo again a few days ago, and she happily babbled about when we came here with Nana, so I know she had a really good time as well. (Unfortunately, she also got scared of that same flight of stairs, so I think that memory was vivid as well! :( )