Next after Port Pirie, were two very short and uneventful stops.
Port Lincoln is the city with the most fish and millionaires in Australia and home to some great restaurants due to the fish and the millionaires. For those that have followed these haphazard chronicles it will come as no surprise that we did not get to experience any of the restaurants, but had veal scallopine (cold and somewhat tougher than I remember veal scallopine to be) in plastic containers en route to Whyalla.
Whyalla…the first part of the name says it all. There was really nothing to do. When we arrived at the motel, the surrounding houses looked deserted and there was almost no traffic on the street. When we got back to the hotel, the houses were still dark, with curtains drawn. Either there was no one there or they prefer their homes dark around here. Walking in the dark to a service station to get something to eat (yes there was no supermarket within sight nor driving distance), I wondered aloud what people do in places this quiet, to which one of the other dancers replied: “drink”, he paused and added as an afterthought: “it’s also places like this where they go nuts and become mass murderers.” Suddenly the road to the service station seemed longer. Trying to change the topic I noted the peculiar scent in the air and was immediately answered by the same guy, that it was probably the smell of rotting human flesh. It did have the perfect setting for a horror movie, but as I am writing this now, you can all breathe easy again, we all arrived intact (physically at least) from our service station trip, where the attendant was even friendlier, than most Australians. Must be a lonely job in a town where no one seems to leave their houses and I wondered if maybe he lived there behind the cigarette stand and only got to talk to involuntary visitors like us.
If the veal in Port Lincoln was a bit tough, the roast beef in Whyalla brought back childhood memories of watching Charlie Chaplin in “Gold Rush” and finding out that our motel who supplied us with our dinner was the best restaurant in town, it made sense why no one was out in town - their shoes had been commandeered for the roastbeef.
Germans are not usually known for their emphasis on making things cozy, but the Barossa Valley town of Tanunda was very cozy and founded by Germans. It is of course a fact of life that wherever there is wine, there’s good food and good times! And frankly I sometimes feel a bit too old to be fed my meals every day, without having a choice in what or when I am served, so I skipped out on the after show meal and took a handful of the dancers with me to a great place in town for dinner. Never has the clinking of glasses and cutlery scraping porcelain sounded so good. Many of the other guests had been to the show and were delighted to be able to express how much they’d enjoyed themselves. One family, where 3 out of 4 kids danced, made us a sign their napkin and returned with their own napkin memento for us. I have always felt that the connection with the audience extends beyond the stage, and living as we have in our own little bubble (eating behind stage, getting on a bus and taking off) can make it a sad, lonely existence, out of touch with the rest of the world. Some of my dearest friends are people I have met via my work on stage but outside my stage persona and it was a delightful reminder, that life still exist as I know it.
We were literally in and out of Tanunda as well, but driving through it is like driving through Napa, which a Mercedes club seemed to think too, making a quaint little town even quainter by filling the streets with beautifully restored classic 1930’s-60’s cars. How nice would it not have been to go to Adelaide in a two-seater cabriolet hooting the horn to get the geese off the road? Okay that was a bit much to ask for maybe, so forget about the geese. Of course at this point anything beats a bus, even with the memory of some truly delicious wines still on my palate.
Speaking of bus, I mustn’t forget a true treat: Duncan, our driver. Not only is he an excellent chauffeur, but a living encyclopedia on Australian history, its nature, people and politics. He has made the painful rides a bit more interesting by keeping us informed of all the places we pass by and don’t get to see. What is particularly amusing to me, is to observe the "girls'" reactions. Like most dancers, they tend to not pay particular attention to voices on intercoms, so Duncan will be talking away and throw in the occasional magic word that gets their heads to start popping up from their seats, confused looks around with that expression of: “what-kangaroo-where?”. So even though the landscape doesn’t change drastically, the view from my seat on the bus is never one of monotony.