I’m off to Germany. Currently I’m somewhere over the Pillaga scrub in Western NSW in the tail of a 747. My immediate travel companions are two very friendly Dutch people who’ve never met each other before and are interested in everything I can tell them about central Australia. Now the discussion is being continued in Dutch, a language i’m yet to master, so I’m just sitting it out.

We’re flying over central Australia – right over a huge flood that stretches for 100’s of kilometres. I’ve never seen anything like it. We heard about the flood on the radio a few weeks ago but it is incredible to witness. The country is very green, I’m sure it’s usually desert. From the air you can see the lines of sand dunes and craters, the ancient inland seabed is running over with water again. I’d love to travel this part of the country in a 4WD. I think my Dutch friends would probably come.

I have this weird reaction to people speaking a language that I don’t understand in my presence. I come over with this embarrassed feelng. Like they’re doing something a little shameful. Could this be a problem in Germany? I’m not sure if I can handle feeling embarrassed on a national scale. Actually, that’s not quite true I feel a whole nation of embarrasment for the English. There are about 10 of them on this plane dressed as women and harassing the flight attendants. I’m not kidding. They’re flying to Bankok dressed in drag. It was quite funny when one of the attendants started giving them advice about their choice of heels.

I sprechen no deutsche. I’ve been trying to learn phrases from my Lonely Planet phrasebook. It feels like an elaborate game when you’re learning a language and nobody around you is speaking it. It’s going to be rather more serious in a few hours.

Quite a few hours…
I’ve now been sitting in the same seat in this little metal cigar for 21 hrs. I had a one hour break in Bankok. I’ve still got 2hrs to go before we reach Heathrow. We’re over the Ukraine and racing the sun. I’ve been watching it rise slowly now for hours. This whole trip is taking place over one extended night. I departed Sydney at 6pm and I arrive London at 6am.

I lost my Dutch friends in Bankok. The girl actually gave me a hug goodbye. We felt like old friends parting for the weekend rather than strangers whose paths are probably perpendicular. Maybe we’ll pass by each other again but we don’t know so we pretend. Only God knows where our feet will fall.

Human finitude is sweetness and sadness. I found a friend and lost a friend all in one 24 hour night.

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