"Cawline, did ya put ya thongs in da boot?" Habi said as he was backing his car full of fishing supplies out of his underground parking spot. It was 4am and we were headed to Bundeena, one of Habi's favorite fishing spots. His girlfriend, Liz told me that this is a pretty frequent thing that Habi likes to do - get up WAY before the sun, drive an hour south, buy some bait and set up his fishing poles (while Liz sleeps in the car til the sun rises). "Okay", I sleepily thought, "but why am I bringing thongs??"
I guess you could say that my month in Australia was full of new experiences, but in many ways, it felt like home. Of course, when traveling to any new country, there are going to be a few language road blocks that you have to mount over. My first and most shocking of those was about coffee. Until my first morning in Australia, I had been convinced that coffee was a universal thing. Like, all countries have coffee, right? I mean, I haven't been to every continent but I have been to enough places to know that asking for a cup of coffee, cafe', Joe or whatever you want to call it, is universally known and one of the only comforts of home that you can count on. I suppose I was not as cultured as I thought!
My first morning, I walked into this cute and trendy coffee shop in the Penshurst district, called South Pour and I asked for a small coffee. The barista led me over to a booth and said, "What kind of coffee would ya like, dawling?" "Oh, just a regular drip coffee, thank you!" I said. "Uhhm, like a latte, cappuccino, macchiato...? he said. I started getting confused. Maybe espresso drinks were more common in Australia and I just hadn't described it correctly. "Oh, just a regular coffee, I mean." I said. "Like hot water over ground beans". "Hmm." the barista said. "I think what you want is a long black (loong blawk)." "Yes! That sounds about right!" I said, still unsure but open to his suggestion.
When the "long black" arrived, it was a beautifully poured little cup of espresso resembling what we Americans would call an Americano. It definitely was not what I was expecting but delicious nonetheless! Still wanting to understand if a regular cup of coffee did in fact exist and if I was just yet to know what the name was, when it came time to check out, I asked the barista if perhaps the "house blend" was what I was trying to describe earlier. I told him that in the coffee I was referring to, I would typically add half and half to it." He looked at me confused. "Cream?" I said. Nope, still not speaking his language. Milk would have been the proper way to say it.
From that morning on, I knew what coffee was in Australia and it was not what it is at home or any other part of the world I had been to. Espresso was coffee and coffee was espresso and that's it! And can I say that Australians make a damn good cup of it! I went back to South Pour pretty frequently after that, but the next times I was prepared and knew exactly what to order and how!
That same week, I also learned what boots and thongs were. Not what you are thinking, my friends! Habi wasn't asking me to prepare for a sexy rodeo, he just wanted to make sure that I had my flip flops packed in the trunk of the car for enjoying the beach later. I was pretty relieved to figure that out!