Two Yanks Downunder

A blog about the experiences of two Americans on their first visit to the fabulous continent of Australia

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Longest Day: The Jindabyne Jinx Begins Part 2

Aug 17 part 2
Qantas 574 to Sydney was a large Airbus with two aisles and ten seats across, (very much sized like the flight from LA to Sydney five weeks earlier), it also turned out to be only about 25% full so there was plenty of room to stretch out. Each of us had our own screen with access to the large Qantas database of films, TV shows, documentaries and music.

Once the entertainment system became operational, I planned to watch the recently released Australian film Jindabyne by the director of the much praised Lantana and starring Gabriel Byrne and Laura Linney ; which for some reason was accessible on this flight!

Wendy and I had planned to view this film in Fremantle at the Luna SFX and had failed to do so, but I would have my chance right now. If only I had not been tempted by another Australian film, the dark Candy starring Heath Ledger, Geoffrey Rush and Abbie Cornish from Somersault. So Candy it was, even before breakfast!

Breakfast was served during Candy and with tasty scrambled eggs, hash browns, sausage and baked beans Don clearly violated the gluten protocol. However, skipping ahead, there would be no significant repercussions due to this lapse during the course of his travels to MN.

This was a lucky break and should not serve as an example for any of our gluten intolerant audience at 2yanksdownunder.

The dark intensity of Candy (wherein Heath and Abbie are a young married couple who descend into heroin addiction. Their attempts to leave the drug behind then have an unexpected impact upon their relationship) required a nap before any further viewing could occur. Upon dozing fitfully off and on for a couple of hours, distractions also presented themselves the eventually fully wake passenger in the form of the wonderful sunny day that allowed for amazing views of the outback 10,000 meters below us.

So, after an unknown interval, Don began to view Jindabyne. Here we have another dark themed work in which a group of male friends on a fishing vacation discover the body of a young murdered aboriginal woman. However, rather than interrupt their vacation, they continue to fish until they have caught a sufficient haul and only then notify the authorities.

Naturally, their delay in reporting this serious crime leaks out in spite of their conspiring to get the story straight for the police and causes all sorts of commotion in their town and in their private lives. Before the film was even halfway completed, the cabin crew took control over the entertainment system for supposedly important announcements regarding such trivial matters as catching connecting international flights.

Such was the spell cast by Jindabyne that Don almost ignored information that was vital to my return home! Then, to top it off, since we were within about 45 minutes of Sydney, the entertainment system was shut down with the exception of music!

Soon enough we were in Sydney and many of those few of us from QF 574 headed directly to the special international flights lounge. This small area soon began to fill up to capacity and some of us wondered how many increments of 10 minutes had to pass before the once every 10 minutes shuttle buses to the International Terminal would begin to move. The correct guess to the question was two increments, and Don only had 90 minutes between flights and over 1/3 of it was already gone!

The first shuttle began to fill up and not until it was totally full with plenty of standing passengers did they begin to divert folks to a second bus. That one was only half full so they traveled in relative comfort and it therefore paid to be last in line for once. This was actually the only time at the Sydney airport that procedures compared to the way things can go on back home at airports. Be that as it may, we had an interesting ride across different runways and past terminals with all sorts of unfamiliar airlines parked at them.

At the International Terminal we were all put through an extremely thorough search. This was not as time consuming as it might read or as the reader might anticipate since the Australian security folks had more than adequate numbers of employees present for this. They did a wand sweep of everyone and a pat down and then searched every carry on bag thoroughly.

Ironically, almost all of the security employees had name tags that led Don to believe that they were immigrants or OZ citizens of Indian or Pakistani decent. The kind and polite Sayid who searched his carry on bag (taking almost every item out) did not know what vegemite was and set it aside. His coworker (with a Hindu name that Don has forgotten) did know what it was and seemed willing to let it be taken back to the U.S., but it was not his decision. They gained the attention of their supervisor, and he indicated that the small jar of vegemite could not cross the Pacific to Los Angeles. This callous decision deprived Don’s coworkers back in MN of an unforgettable culinary experience.

Now Don was free to go to the gate with only 10 minutes to spare before boarding was scheduled to commence. Was the security check that he would face in Los Angeles at the end of his upcoming Qantas flight 11 to be as rigorous as that in Sydney? Would the fact that he would also have to collect his checked baggage and go through U.S. customs still allow for him to catch his connecting Northwest airlines flight to the Twin Cities?

Before any of these questions became important, it was announced that Qantas was delaying departure of QF11 by 30 minutes! What sort of ripple effect would this have in Los Angeles where he had a three hour layover. That term, layover would just not do any longer, someone would have to invent another one to more accurately reflect the amount of time travelers would now have to invest in standing in security check lines and such in this new world of ours.


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