What is wrong and what is ‘right’?

What is it with Australians?

Why do they have to drive on the other side of the road, run on the wrong side of the track, walk, climb stairs, go up an escalator bearing left instead of right? I spent my three weeks down under trying not to be run over by a car, cyclist, pedestrian…

The thing is these people are really down under, they just like doing things very differently from us Europeans. When they get off a bus, they thank and greet the driver … aren’t you supposed to yell at them for either driving too slow or too fast, being late or early, or simply because that’s what people do, get angry because .. because!

Not to mention the highway .. where on earth does everyone, and I mean everyone respect the speed limit? Here’s the scene: Sunday morning, trip to Noosa, Gold Coast: we get in the car (obviously I enter the car on the wrong side, the driver’s side) I sit and get ready to assist to an unofficial car race: if you are familiar with Italian highways (the further south you go, the better) you will certainly relate: slow vehicles on the central lane, Batman and all the possible superheroes driving at 150 (probably rushing to save the world) flashing all the time to have the right of way… On Australian roads what I witness is a ‘normal’ drive : a notice warns ‘if you are right too long, you’re wrong’ and, guess what, drivers actually respect that! Slow vehicles on the left, fast drivers on the right … unbelievable.. not to mention the super busy parking areas in Noosa: patient drivers, waiting for a parking space to be freed, no cursing, no loss of tempers…

Everything is the opposite of what we know and are accustomed to: swans are black, cars drive on the left, people smile… but what strikes me the most is that I got accustomed to it right away .. I just love this life style and wish I could pack it with all the peanut butter, Tim Tams and Vegemite we’re taking home, and that’s what I do, determined to import the Aussies’ lifestyle

But the reality is … as we step back onto Italian soil, something jars: the police officer at the border counter doesn’t even look at me, let alone greeting .. and on the road there’s no way you can relax, you must keep well awake and be sure no one tries to kill you!

Thank God at home our kids are happy to see us (or at least they pretend so), they greet, cuddle and try to console us for our Australia’s home sickness, yes, because what I learned from my second trip down under is that Australia’s nostalgia exists as well as Africa’s … and when everything is unpacked, Tim Tams are finished and jet lag is absorbed… that ‘no worries’ feeling still keeps whispering in my ear that living a better life is possible, and you don’t need more money, you just need to take care of what counts: yourself, your health, your loved ones, all the rest can wait….no worries mate!

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