It took me a time that now I can no longer define to get to Brisbane. Of those Australian roads, however, I cannot forget the signs indicating with extreme confidence that the next exit was only 3500, 1200, 4000 km further on. I was puzzled. While our little Europe was fading away at each kilometre, I felt invincible: they will never find me out here, in the midst of these immensities. Let go. Arms wide open.
Brisbane: the first image that I manage to bring to the surface is Madame F’s face that greets me on the stairs at the bus station. Nomad, unique, Madame F was the best employer I had had until then. She gave me confidence, and courage, and she listened . A lot. At some point of our lives, we had to jump. Her leap was towards Australia: with her loved ones, she left my beloved Hibernia for warmer climates on the other side of the planet. And a few months before their departure from Europe, we managed to create what I think is still a beautiful friendship.
Of her city, I remember conditioners everywhere. 22C inside. 32C outside. Humidity: 500%. Time turns things upside down in my head. More and more often, it seems that life is fading in my hands. My memories of places and people dissolve as in an eclipse. I have no other memories of the city, if not my photographs. Panta rei . Everything changes. Everything runs away.
In that part of Australia, I saw for the first time the rainforests. I went to Lamington and Springbrook natural parks. I walked along two-, three-, five-metre tall ferns and I made the acquaintance of strangling fig trees. The forest around me changed, revealing the various layers of vegetation of which it is made of. Rocks gave us darkness and coolness.
Re-reading emails written to those who loved me in Europe, I find a passage that says, ” The Australia nature has a beauty that is so complex that it must hide some logic. If only we could freeze time. If I could only stand and watch a fern which opens in the morning in the forest of Springbrook , maybe I would completely understand the greatness of life”. Then, there was a special hospital. There were wards of orthopedics, surgery, radiology. Beds. A little smaller than usual, but still beds. Drips. Casts. Patients were about 130 koalas: some fell from the eucalyptus trees, with broken noses or paws . Koalas were divided into communities: those who could still have puppies, Latin lovers, elderly and young ones. Then there were kangaroos with or without their joeys.
They are huge animals: their lower paws as so long that they look like they were wearing clown shoes. Long nails too. They do not fall from trees: they are often hit by cars that travel these incalculable roads but they get treated at this veterinary hospital. When I saw the ears of a small “joey” sticking out of his mummy’s pouch I felt stupid and happy at the same time. At the hospital, there are also emus, which by the way are horrendous and reminded me of bald overweight turkeys. There were wallabies (small versions of kangaroos) and the legendary cassowaries: more than a bird, a puzzle to me.
My memories come and go. Madame F, her daughter and I have spent the last few days together along the Golden Coast: we saw villas and sumptuous gardens that were so well taken care of by that they appeared fake. Another memory: a pearl beach, as far as the eye could see. With a single yellow and red flag planted a few metres from the water.
Then nothing. Only three of us and our footsteps. Our lives.