Stepping outside the airport terminal in Darwin, the humidity wraps you like a thick fog. It’s over 90°F, and barely started on the walk to collect the rental car, our clothes are sticking to us. Our new Airbnb is nearby, our host is waiting, and we get all the instructions we need in short order. Two minutes after his departure, we are sitting in the pool. It feels heavenly, and slowly my brain comes back online.
We are in Darwin at a good time, the start of the dry season. It may not rain at all while we are here, there are few bugs, and the crocodiles are retreating into the estuaries (I don’t think I will be swimming, just in case). Within two days, we adjust to the weather by getting up early to look at birds and avoid the heat, shop in the air conditioned stores during the heat of the day, and swim or sit on the patio in the late afternoon. Cumulus clouds build into giant fluffy white mounds. They are the Queen Mum of clouds, in stately progress toward the horizon. There are a surprising number of new birds in our yard and the nearby park, and a pair of huge flying foxes (bats) come out of a nearby tree at dusk. The last rays of the sun turn their leathery, translucent wings orange as they flap in a leisurely loop around the neighborhood (internet photo). When they return to the tree, they hang upside down. Folded-up, they return to their dark brown color, resembling a demented cat hanging by its tail. I’ve never seen anything like this. Welcome to Darwin, a different way of life.
There are lots of places where we can watch the sun set over the water. An hour before sunset, the park between our house and the beach comes alive. Families emerge to walk or sit and chat, while the “pock pock” of bouncing balls becomes noticeable. Bicyclists whiz along the path. The sounds of people in the parkland continues until well after dark. Streetlights come on but people disappear only gradually. It is much nicer out after dark than it was in the heat of the day.