Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Kata Tjuta


We're camping out in a real tent. There was no rain last night, and we woke up to the sound of birds. They sound different from those in America, but in a good way. Sweeter, a bit more melodic.

Breakfast is simple— I accidentally drop the entire bag of cornflakes and half spills out. Luckily we managed to salvage about a half of that, so we're not completely without corn flakes for the next five days.

The order of the day is visiting the Culture Center near Uluru and then walking around the Kata Tjuta (which means "many heads").

The culture center is an interesting spot, with a long video comprised of dancing Aboriginal men and women, painting, little children, etc. After a while, the singing sounds like cats. I wish I could understand what they were saying! I think the songs are about the history of Uluru, but you can't really tell from the dances what's going on, so you can't follow it.

Also in the culture center is the 'sorry book,' which is comprised of letters from people who took rocks from Uluru, realized what had happened, and then sent them back. 

My favorite?

GREETINGS. 

THIS ROCK HAS EXPRESSED A DESIRE TO BE RETURNED TO ULURU.

BLESSINGS, [Name blacked out]

Another of my favorites was one from a student in Japan that began, "Dear Stuff," and was riddled with grammatical and spelling errors. It makes me remember Japan and one of the signs on a locker: "We are not responsible for valuables left in rockers."

When we reach Kata Tjuta it's already 2:30. By the time we park, fill our water bottles completely, and get on the road, it's 2:33.

The circuit we're taking— the hardest one, the longest, and quite possibly the most dangerous— is 7.4 kilometers. It's supposed to take four hours.

There are signs everywhere that say:

"Drink one liter of water every hour. Don't wait until you get thirsty. Drink in small quantities every 15 minutes. STAY SAFE."

We didn't drink nearly so much water— probably a good thing. The temperature was 11 to 20°C, and apparently the guidelines are in place for hotter days.

It's a fantastic walk. First is the easy path— the path from the car park to the beginning of the circle which goes around and through Kata Tjuta. This one is about 1.8km.

And then comes the rest of it— the high uphills, the relatively flat walks that are along the side of the rock…

We stop once, at about the hour mark, to eat some sandwiches and drink water. 

The place is silent except for the whistling of the wind. There's a crow that's been watching us and now flies up, cawing to one of its neighbors. At one point it seems to growl or whimper, we're not sure which.

After a few ridiculous pictures, in which Dad sneezes or is about to sneeze, we head to see the sunset.

And I'm out of words.

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