Looking forward to my three last days in Australia in a more positive vein already, I went to Mass in Canberra on Sunday morning. There were tea and biscuits afterwards, and a small number of middle-aged and older people were standing there talking. I being a visitor made a good conversation starter, and there was one older couple, in particular, with whom I had a very pleasant chat.
I was quite struck, however, when they offered me to show me around Canberra that day. And that is what they did: picked me up at my hotel after I had had breakfast there, showed me the Parliament houses, took me to lunch and to the botanical gardens, and then invited me for dinner. Only the fact that I had already planned a bus trip to the coast for the next day reconciled them to the fact that I would stay at the YHA, which is conveniently situated for the bus station.
For the following two nights, I was their guest (in a lovely guest bedroom), and this included two more delicious dinners, a film night, and a car trip to a nearby National Park for me to see kangaroos.
It was the best thing that could have happened to me, not only for the things I could see with them, but also for the really pleasant company they were. I did have a certain fear that they might regret offering such an overwhelming hospitality at some point, and that I might outstay my welcome. They did, however, seem to really enjoy it all through, and even thanked me several times for staying with them. I confess the whole thing still boggles my mind.
But as if this was not enough, here a short summary of that bus trip to the coast. There is a coach running from Canberra to the Sapphire coast at Bateman’s Bay, going down along the coast to Narooma and returning the same day. I had planned to go to Bateman’s Bay itself, as this would give me the longest time between coach arrival and departure. I had the front seat in the coach and thus was exchanging some words about my plan (and my hope to see kangaroos) with the driver. A lady sitting in the opposite row joined in, and recommended not to go to Bateman’s Bay, but further south, since Bateman’s Bay did not, in fact, have any nearby beaches, while the place where she lived had.
I was grateful for the tip, but did not expect her taking me to her son’s house, where she was staying, and then down to the beach herself. Her son, an avid surfer, offered to come down to the beach as well, so that I could try the waves of the surfer’s beach, instead of going to the more boring swimming beach, and still be safe. He showed me how to dive the waves (a thing apparently called ‘bodysurfing’, as I learned later – I have no clue about these things). That was great fun, and only the rather chilly temperature of the water induced me to stop after a while.
I was then taken out for lunch at the local social club and on a short walk through a nearby park-like area, where the son (a horticulturist by training) explained the different trees to me. His mother then saw me safely on the bus, and back I went to Canberra to be picked up at the station by my hosts.
It somehow seems as if God was trying to teach me something here.