The flight from Los Angeles to Sydney felt pretty personally monumental. Aside from being the first step in the second portion of “the big trip”, it was also our first time ever traveling to the Southern Hemisphere.
When you’ve been someplace for a couple of days, or when you’re traveling at a snail’s pace, as we did, country by (relatively) small country across a place like Southeast Asia or province by province through China, it’s easy to forget about the geography of travel, about how far away your starting point is or where you are relative to other spots on the planet.
But jumping all the way from North America to Australia, being on the “underside” of the globe for the first time, felt really special for the travel nerd in me. The first few weeks in Oz I kept having all sorts of silly thoughts about how far “below” we were from home, how the people in the Northern Hemisphere where pointing in a different direction from me when they stood up, or where we would end up of we dug a hole straight through the earth from where we were standing.
Or, standing at the water’s edge in Melbourne, if I started swimming South, would I make it all the way to Antarctica (!!! Seriously – I’d never been that close to Antarctica before, how cool is that?)? (Theoretically anyhow. From Melbourne I would probably hit Tasmania before I made it to the South Pole not to mention I’d be amazed if I was fit enough to swim to the end of the pier I was facing not to also mention that I am a total wimp about swimming in cold, coldish or even tepid water.)
It was exciting to discover the Southern Hemisphere’s night sky: to find out that the moon waxes and wanes in the opposite direction, to see the constellation the Southern Cross for the first time, to observe that the one familiar face in the heavens, Orion, leaves his hunt when he heads south and instead starts turning careless somersaults towards the horizon.
And although the weather was warm when we arrived, there was definitely a hint of fall on the March air. Which was just bizarre and wonderful. (More wonderful than this cold and gloomy May that Buenos Aires continues to serve up.)
When you’ve lived your whole life in the Northern Hemisphere, you take it for granted that Christmas will be cold, if not snowy, that the fourth of July or 1st August (US and Swiss holidays) will involve barbeques, fire works and other warm weather activities. You don’t give much thought to what’s going on at those times in the Southern half of the world. I wonder if those Southern Hemisphere folk are as blasé about us and our weather up in the North? Are Christmas-time barbeques equally par for the course or do they sometimes wish for a bit of snow and pine trees instead of palm trees, the way I am dreaming of warmer weather as I drink cup after cup of tea to warm up while I write this. 😉