Monday, August 1, 2011

Ladies Didgeridon’t but Guys Didgeridoo

After arriving in Australia we caught a cab to our hotel. It was Mina’s birthday so we went to eat at this restaurant called Outback Jacks. It is very similar to Outback in the states and the food was pretty good but the service sucked. They don’t have a set waiter they just kind of rotate so they don’t  keep track of your drinks very well. We only got one glass of water and they were really slow bringing the food. Mina and I split the ribs and they were delicious. Most everyone else got steak. Living in Thailand we are all kinda deprived of our meat. Luckily for us Australians love their meat and it is in abundance here. We walked around the Cairns city area before heading “home” at the Hilton. We were wiped out!

The next day we went to a traditional aborigine village called Tjapukai. The aboriginal people have lived in Australia for thousands of years. This specific tribe had their own language, which is different from all the others. They had their own territory and were known as the Rain forest people. Based on the location of the Aborigines they adapted to their environment. The people from the desert were much taller with blonder hair while the rain forest people are much shorter with dark skin and wiry hair. Rainbow was the name of a guy who grew up in this particular tribe of aborigines. He told a few stories of his family including one about his grandfather who lived to be around 100 years old. But now they only have a lifespan of about 30 to 40 years before they pass on. He said this is due to the new processed food that they eat. Speaking of the food they eat they actually eat more toxic and poisonous foods than any other group of aborigines. They have this “black bean” that they have to soak for 5 days before all the toxins are all removed.

The men all go out to hunt and would use different types of boomerangs, spears, and shields. Kangaroos were a common food source along with other marsupials and deer if they could be found. A large majority of their diet though was just fruits and grasses. They have a plant that looks kinda like a large pineapple, but the name eludes me, that was like a giant caffeine shot. It is the equivalent of 50 cups of coffee and men would eat it before hunting. There was also something called the cheese fruit, which smells like cheese and supposedly can cure Cancer. Pretty neat! We were able to throw a boomerang and Jared nearly caught his but tripped as he ran for it so the guy let him keep it anyway. None of us came that close and Dad barely got his off the ground. We all had a good laugh watching everyone show their warrior skills. Next we got to throw a spear and Jared and I were by far the best of the family. We didn’t hit any of the “kangaroo targets” but at least our spear went straight. It was a lot of fun.

Another awesome thing was the Didgeridoo… only men could play them and they were used in ceremonies. Women were not allowed to play them or even look at them for fear that they would fall pregnant. *insert awkward humor* We couldn’t help but laugh at that. Rainbow one of the aborigine men played for us and told us how to play it. We tried later in the store where they have tons of them but were not very successful. Didgeridoos can be made out of several different woods but they need to be hollow. Termites do most of the work and hollow out the middle then they are cleaned up, stripped of their bark, and painted. Some of the ones in the shop were really ornate and the price tag that came with them showed. The most expensive one was  $5000! That is in AUS dollars, which is about $1.18 US dollars. It was all hand carved and beautiful along with being a huge hollowed tree. The longer and wider the didgeridoo the lower the pitch and it was interesting to see the difference between them. Rainbow said it took him a year to learn how to properly play the didgeridoo. It took him 3 months just to get the breathing down which is circular meaning that you breathe in as you vibrate your lips and breathe out. I certainly couldn’t do that. Overall, it was a fascinating to see the equivalent to Native Americans here in Australia.

Random Fact: Emus and kangaroos cannot walk backwards, and are on the Australian coat of arms for that reason.

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