Day 18: Darwin City
Managing to crawl out of bed at 11am was no small feat today. Like the tide, my mood ebbs and flows, though a lot more dramatically and unpredicably. I'd put a single article of clothing on, and go back into the bed. I brushed my teeth twice. Deep down inside I was very keen to see Darwin but could not fathom leaving the room in this state of mind.
What really got me out of bed in the end was the need for coffee. I begrudgingly got dressed and went into town - an 8 minute ride with minimal traffic. Google suggested Kopi Stop had good coffee, and they did! Along with a generous selection of fairly priced toasties. Spicy food isn't that common on the road but this shop was run by Asian people. My trust in their ability to make a good spicy toastie was justified.
Not that it mattered much. I had a lot of trouble eating more than a quarter before taking a break. Let this be a great example of how awful depression feels. You have a cup of the best coffee and a spicy toastie within arm's reach and you just circumnavigated almost 3/4 of Australia and you still somehow feel pretty pathetic. It comes whenever it wants to and leaves just the same. If you know anyone with any depressive disorder, I ask that you give them sympathy and love, because if they let you into this world, you best believe they think pretty highly of you.
It didn't help much that calls couldn't reach me and vice versa, so I was happy to hear from some familiar voices. As time went on, my toastie appetite grew and the pleasure of coffee returned. They were both cold and stale for some reason. I whacked myself out of staring into space and checked the time... holy shit I've been here for 2.5 hours.
Properly caffeinated, I headed to the Darwin Museum to get out of the sun and learn a few things about the region. Joining about a dozen elderly American tourists, we populated the whole building within minutes. The museum had dedicated an exhibit to how life came to be, including a massive timeline and historical events such as the beginning of life, rise of dinosaurs, early humans etc. Fascinating stuff. I guess it somewhat replaced the fish feeding session down at the coastline (well, nothing would have replaced the exciting opportunity to feed sting rays and fish). I missed the session because I stayed in the coffee shop too long. Damn.
Darwin's coastline isn't exactly Perth
I decided to park Sheba along the esplanade and change into normal clothes. Because she had no gear on, I could attach my jacket and helmet to her and take my boots and gloves in my Ashvault backpack (a sample I designed for Flying Solo Gear Co.) I also managed to fit my kevlar jeans and a 1.5L waterbottle in it. Now in shorts and boat shoes, I was beginning to enjoy finally feeling like a human being and not a spacewoman.
A very cute city beach.
Darwin locals are extremely friendly and because it's not very populated, everyone greets each other in the street. I walked the entire perimeter of the CBD and was surprised to find out their beach is about 100m long and is horseshoe shaped. I could walk the length in about 60 seconds. There was even a lifeguard! And people in bathers! I grabbed a vietnamese iced coffee and soaked up the sun for a bit on the grass. Darwin is a nice little place with a couple of somethings for everyone, but it certainly leads a slower life than the rest of Australia. Being isolated and having a tropical climate gives it a feeling much like the non-touristy areas of Hawaii. A Northern Territory native once told me that NT stands for "not today" so nobody is really in a rush to get anywhere. When in Rome...
It was nearly 330pm so I walked through the CBD to buy some water for tomorrow's trip. It somehow got even hotter in the afternoon so I stayed in the shopping centre to wait for it to cool down. By shopping centre I mean an indoor area with one strip of stores, but it has everything you need.
When I came out, it was dark. I checked the clock and it was 430pm, what was going on? Looking up, the clear blue sky had become a complete overcast and the temperature dropped 10 degrees. Thunder. Lightning. Then it seemed like a funnel of water walked its way down the street, dumping litres of water on anything in its path. I was one of those things. People started screaming and running, and I ducked under the awning of a manicure place. I seriously started wondering if there were any boat hires available in the area so I could get home seeing as the streets were flooded past the curb.
As soon as it came, it left. The water disappeared somehow and the patrons at a nearby pub resurfaced to resume drinking on the patio. It was incredible. St Patrick's Day os serious business on Mitchell St.
Sheba got a free clean, but so did my helmet and jacket. I put on the soggy gear and tootled over to the same Vietnamese restaurant to order takeaway for dinner and tomorrow's breakfast. I realized I actually hadn't eaten anything since the spicy toastie so I was famished riding home. Of course, Australia is a country of tests and the downpour started again as I left the CBD. I even missed an exit because I couldn't see, and the rain was pressing buttons on my GPS mounted to my handlebar! Some things you don't even think about.
There's a certain disconnect between body and mind in a depressive state so I was seriously lacking in nutrients and hydration. I spent the rest of the evening drinking 1.5L of water while packing my bags for tomorrow... in between games of Candy Crush.
Tomorrow will be the first time I head South this trip. Desert heat, here we come.