Spiders, koalas, kookaburras, uncompromising civil servants

Spiders, koalas, kookaburras, uncompromising civil servants
Spiders, koalas, kookaburras, uncompromising civil servants

Three years ago, a dizzying travelogue appeared on the Bulgarian book market, dedicated to the Land of the Long White Cloud - New Zealand: "In the East - in Paradise" by the authorIzabela Shopova who easily captured the hearts of readers with her magnificent language and sense of humor.

West of Paradise ” will not only expand your knowledge of geography, architecture, anthropology, zoology and cuisine. A unique journey to Australia is waiting for you, full of curious discoveries, mysterious arachnids, uncompromising government officials and most of all subtle sarcasm.

In 2002, Izabela Shopova left for New Zealand, later moved to Australia, the city of Brisbane. The challenges of emigration unleashed her propensity to create, subsequently giving birth to these vital, witty reads, as if written in one breath.

The author will soon arrive in Bulgaria to personally present her new book - on June 29 in Sofia, and on July 6 in her hometown of Varna.


Auckland sends me off properly with a light drizzle. (It's no coincidence that New Zealand is the Land of the Long White Cloud.) The pilot is not one to talk, but he still manages to fit into his brief speech two apologies for the chilly weather and brief showers that await us on the Gold Coast. He mentions nothing about the Auckland rain. I do not understand! Every time I arrive in Auckland it rains and no one feels the need to apologize. In Australia it's obviously different. People apologize if the weather is not sunny. Hmm, I'm starting to like this country even before I arrive.

Rumen and Boyana can't wait to show me everything. And they apologize to me several times for the cool weather. (In general, this whole weather thing starts to get very suspicious. If we were in Auckland, a day like this would pass for a beautiful summer and everything alive would be pouring out on the beach, in the park or around the barbecues, slathering on sunscreen and to be poured with cold beer. The Ozites are almost in mourning because it was cloudy! They seem spoiled to me.)

The program for the day includes several close encounters of the second kind (without physical contact). I am first introduced to a family of geckos that live in our house. Boyana warns me that they were very noisy, but my first impressions are nice - shy ones, they quickly sneak behind the chimney of the barbecue.

As I remember how to drive a car with manual gears (how I'm supposed to operate three pedals with two feet, and when they put the turn signals on the left, how before a turn I change gears and give a turn signal at the same time, I how left hands I have??!!), we walk around the neighborhood and the koala park. Koalas don't like noise, hustle and bustle of the city, they are easily stressed and therefore live far from human eyes - in the depths of eucalyptus forests, somewhere on the high branches of trees. For those like me who are dying to see a koala, there are two indoors. We are not allowed to touch them, we are not even allowed to talk – the koalas are sleeping and we should not disturb them. I have to present myself in whispers and one-sidedly - the other side is dreaming.

On my way out, I pass by and meet one of the representatives of the eight-legged race. The web is huge and clearly visible in the sunlight, which is somewhat reassuring - I'm not very likely to stumble upon something like this without noticing it. However, the master of the web is the size of the palm of my hand, which is horrifying, spine-tingling, hair-raising and hysterical-squealing-justifying. The only reason I don't panic is that there are a lot of people around, probably locals. I don't want Boyana to go to school tomorrow, meet the sexiest tenth grader in high school, and instead of asking her out to the movies, he says, "Hey, weren't you at the koala park yesterday with that crazy woman who was screaming hysterically?" Is she your relative?". My motherly instinct prevails over the horror and panic and I even manage to pretend I'm taking a picture of the bastard and his web.

The day is long and provides me with another opportunity to meet a local resident - our neighbor. All my curiosity and enthusiasm evaporated when I discovered that he was a South African from Auckland who had just arrived, just like me. Surprise, surprise! Well, another time I will meet the ozita.

By the time it's time for dinner and I can finally go to bed without scandalizing the family by retiring too early, my biological clock, still on Auckland time, has been up for close to 8 hours. I fall asleep instantly and without memory.

Husband and child are at work and school respectively. And while the cats are busy sleeping professionally and sporadically spying on a family of lizards in the backyard, I'm actively getting to know the local feathered.

Even for someone like me, with a long and colorful history of relationships with birds (mostly in the antagonistic category), Australia offers variety and surprises. And what a variety! The twitter-beating, coughing "songbirds" and the eternally and noisily tapping on the roofs of New Zealand birds are like innocent mischievous children compared to their cousins here.

I have already memorized the musical phrase from the notes that the idiot bird keeps repeating under my window. Before sunrise. At five in the morning. The bird sings well, but has a problem with short-term memory. Kolchem sang the sextet and stopped to catch her breath and give us a chance to recover from the touch of perfection, forgetting that she had already sung it, and after a few moments of awkward hesitation: "Well, did I sing it, or did you just i was thinking of singing I guess I sang… Or no, no, I haven't sung yet. Just in case, let me sing it." And it starts all over again. With unwavering enthusiasm. I guess I now understand why some people keep firearms in their bedrooms.

At six the virtuoso begins to fake. Toku got one of the six notes wrong, or he stopped in the middle of the musical phrase, or he repeated the first two notes like a scratched record (like a broken record - for the younger ones who don't know what a record is), then he sang the whole tune, just enough to reassure us that she hasn't gone completely crazy - she knows the song, but like that, she's kind of having fun with the variations, she's doing a jam session for us.

At six past ten I'm already drinking coffee. Muzio is having breakfast. The other residents of the house try to be tolerant of us, we are newcomers, aren't we? And Australians are apparently very tolerant people, as long as the musical bird is not an extinct species yet.

Besides the memory-challenged freak with a penchant for jazz variations who, if nothing else, can at least sing, there's some unidentified acoustic misunderstanding in the neighborhood who imagines that if you have wings, you're a natural-born virtuoso singer. It is enough to open your beak and strain your vocal cords. The sound produced in his case is identical to the teeth-tingling screech of a rusty, never-lubricated swingarm. It always starts a little shy at first - like the wind shaking the cradle and it creaks heartbreakingly, lonely and miserable. Then, emboldened by his own enthusiasm, the singer became ambitious and redoubled his efforts, so that the whole neighborhood shook with frantic screeching. It is usually performed early in the morning, but daytime and evening performances are no exception. The amazing variety of earplugs available at drugstores is starting to dawn on me.

Another favorite bird of mine is the raven. That black, ugly one that screams "ugly, sinister" in Botev's poem, which symbolizes calamities, massacres, evils and a dark outline in any visual or verbal work of art. Not in Brisbane. Here the raven is ubiquitous and trivial. At the same time – gigantic. The multitude of ravens flap ominously with gigantic black wings from the top of the street lamps, perch menacingly on the roofs of the houses, walk fearlessly on the fences, scare the cats, bother the passers-by, but mostly, predominantly and above all, they caw. Blood curdling. Ugly and creepy. In absurd contrast to the fabulous blue sky, the bright sun and the optimistic temperament of the Ozites.

Good thing at least we don't have kookaburras in the neighborhood! (Better known as the kookaburra. Bell. web. ed.) Last year, when we were visiting friends in Brisbane, I did not blink for a week at their incessant high-pitched cackles and self-satisfied giggles and cackles at night, as if three hundred witches had gathered in conference with free drink and buffet. It was laughter, it was giggles! We're really lucky they're not around. For now.

And so that no one thinks that I don't like birds or that I don't have an ear for good birdsong, there are also such songbirds that are actually a real pleasure to listen to. I haven't seen them yet, because they always sing early in the morning in the dark, but they are numerous. It is very touching a feather that makes the same tinkling sound as the barduchettas that my grandfather used to buy at country fairs - a painted pitcher that you fill halfway with water, then blow into the hole in the handle and a melodious sound comes out. Here, however, a chicken makes the same sound without the help of a barduche. It's so cute!

I've been on Australian soil for almost a week now and haven't encountered more than a dozen spiders (all from a safe distance), one cockroach (which Matza selflessly stuffed, oligated and chased from our yard) and two black beetles - stuffed, in the koala center's naturalistic collection.

After Boyana's terrible experiences (1. The giant cockroach crawling across her face in a north-northeast direction, which woke her on the very first night in her Australian bed; 2. The orange, huge, undoubtedly highly venomous and voraciously predatory spider, under which he passes every morning at the bus stop and who lowers his web lower and lower, apparently reorienting himself from hunting insects to hunting tenth-graders) and knowing me for what a rascal I am, everyone expects that upon my arrival the house will it was filled with poisonous snakes, lizards, hordes of spiders, cockroaches, crocodiles, jellyfish and whatever other poisonous things lurked there. Even as they walk with me through the park, I watch them keep their distance – always one step away so they have time to react when I run into deadly fauna. When, not if.

Over 200 species of spiders live in Queensland, which are officially divided into deadly poisonous, highly poisonous, mildly poisonous and those whose bite is painful but harmless. All the Australian sites are full of pictures of the most common dangerous species found in choir houses. Because it is very important, if you are bitten by a spider, to identify it before going to the doctor. Otherwise they'll have to pump you antidotes for all the several dozen poisonous bastards. If you don't seek medical help, the symptoms of poisoning run the intriguing gamut from fever, paralysis, convulsions, respiratory arrest, and cardiac arrest, through rashes, inflammation, redness, bruising, blackening, numbness, to completely asymptomatic necrosis and unsalvageable oozing. of the flesh. Species names and descriptions abound with specimens that 'jump', 'spit', 'cast nets', 'stalk', 'trap' or outright 'attack', as well as 'crusaders', 'widows', "corsairs" and other euphemisms that make me want to grab my still-unpacked suitcase, buy a one-way ticket to New Zealand and, as soon as the Maori customs officer greets me with "Welcome!", burn my passport right there on the airport. Just in case.

However, I am infinitely grateful to fate and my husband that we were not dragged to live in Sydney, which is the natural habitat of the most poisonous spider on the planet - the Sydney funnel-web spider. From the tarantula family, it hunts birds and mice. It doesn't attack people. He only bites them if they disturb him. To everyone's relief, this particular species does not jump, spit, or throw webs. If it feels threatened, it stands up on its hind legs, grasps a human finger with its forelegs, and bites, bites, bites repeatedly, injecting a copious amount of deadly venom into the victim's circulatory system. For ten years, there has been no recorded fatality from a Sydney Funnelweaver bite, largely due to the development of a reliable antidote. Long live science!

Australians (and especially Sydneysiders) are very brave people. Sometimes I wonder if I will have the courage to become one of them.

In order to peacefully coexist with the previously described octopuses, we have to follow elementary rules in our daily lives. For example, we don't smugly put the blind in our mailbox like we did in NZ. We always look inside first, explore all the dark corners, and then carefully, with two fingers, take out the mail and discreetly turn the paper, to make sure that there are no spiders between the envelopes. When we throw trash into the yard bin, we don't fumble carelessly under the edge of the lid to open it, but use the handles on top. With two fingers. If a blossoming branch overhangs the path in the park, do we not rush under it to marvel at its beauty?, that is, we may marvel, but only after we have quickly scanned it for cobwebs, spiders and so on. We don't go outside barefoot, especially in the dark. We don't tread on tall grass. We don't let cats roam unsupervised. We look carefully at the laundry before putting it away and folding it. Some of us also look carefully at our duvets before tucking into them.

It is clear that under such a strict regime of apartheid, segregation and separatism against the spider society I will never have interesting encounters to tell, so in a fit of adventurous frivolity I rush today to meet the dangers. I put on shorts and flip-flops (for a more dramatic effect) and go for a walk around the neighborhood and the surrounding area.

Very soon my faint suspicion that walking is the surest way to avoid meeting a living soul is confirmed. People drive cars, no one gets around using primitive stone age methods. However, the weather is beautiful, the birds are singing and I persevere with the adventure hunt. Taram-pajik, taram-pajik, chipico-path, pathko-chipik. While I stare at the grasshoppers in the grass and admire the only cloud in the flawless blue sky, here I am out of the residential area and already leisurely strolling along a path in the park. Right next to the freeway. Under normal circumstances I would probably be outraged by car noise and such, but in this particular case the cars are as silent and silent as ghosts. Some indescribable bird cacophony calls out to them from the nearby eucalyptus trees. As deafening as a flock of anxious glarus on the fishing pier when the gemmies haul in the fish. No matter how much I peer through the leaves, I see no motley parrots, no flocks of ravens, much less glarus. Just a black plastic bag hanging from some branch. Wondering how she got there. Oh, and one further up. Another two, five, ten. God! Thousands of ugly black bags hang from every tree around me. Like hideous tumors on the branches. How did I not notice them before?!

The source of the unbearable noise is revealed when the bag spreads its wings and flies away with a splash. They were birds! Against the bright blue sky above me looms the familiar symbol of Gotham City. BATS!!!! All the hundreds, thousands of huge black things hanging as far as the eye can see in the trees are bats!!! And they croak! Ultrasound another time! They are here shouting and calling each other in the sound range and flapping their wings and scratching each other. And they are huge! Not flying mice, not flying squirrels, not even flying foxes as they are called. What I saw up close was a well developed (apparently well fed) German Shepherd. With wings. And with teeth. I'm sure I saw teeth. Just in time, a moment before I passed out in terror, I remembered that Australian bats feed mainly on fruit and insects. right?

Well, now even if Batman comes down from my eucalyptus tree, or if Dracula lands theatrically on the path, I won't stress. But not at all. Look, if an Aussie comes around, I'll be very surprised. They are clearly studiously avoiding Valencia Park. They must have a reason. As a model Aussie, I promise not to go there again. Honest!

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