In the sweltering heat of the summer sun, I trudged home unenthusiastically. As the bell rang on the last day of school, the others were excited to start their summer vacations that would be filled with excitement. For me, it was just going to be another summer, waiting nearly three months to see my friends again. I finally reached the blue door of my house, but found something unexpected.
My parents sat by the table in an impatient manor, waiting for me like police catching a robber. What could I have done? “Joe,” my dad said in a stern manner, “You are going to Australia.” As a myriad of thoughts flew through my mind like pigeons fluttering away from running children, the only words I could say were, “Are you serious?” Instead of the disheartening summer I expected, I was exuberant to find myself going to a foreign country with my grandpa and cousin!
The next few months were consumed with dreams of this “new” land, along with preparation, of course. Before I knew it, I was sitting on a 747, as it took flight. I never thought this would happen to me! What seemed like days of being on a plane finally ended as we took foot on new soil. It was amazing! We were in the heart of Sydney. With the long trip over, we were glad to take a rest. After all, we knew the next week would be bursting with excitement – traveling from coast to coast, with plenty to do.
I woke up before the alarm clock buzzed, and excitedly gazed out the window. It was bustling with things that were so amazing to me. I could see the harbor filled with little shops and aquariums, with busy people frantically running to catch the next ferry. We started our day by heading to breakfast. Across the street from our hotel was a ‘McDonald’s!’ Yes, even on the other side of the world! Well, it sure seemed the same, at first. The minutest of differences seemed to make eating there all the more enjoyable, such as the small packets of Vegemite next to the ketchup and mustard. We quickly finished and briskly walked five or six blocks until we found the Sydney Harbour Bridge. We could not simply look at it, so we climbed it! The sight of cars zooming underneath us was breathtaking! After 12 hours of wonder, we ate dinner off Darling Harbour. The night lights reflecting off the water made the view spectacular.
For our special trip, we could not resist seeing Uluru, Perth, and wading in the Indian Ocean. I was particularly impressed with Steve Erwin’s zoo. Walking with the kangaroo in their own habitation, without fences between us, was a unique experience. Our last and final stop was a whole week of scuba diving in the famous Great Barrier Reef. We prepared for hours in pools and lakes, anticipating our journey with schools of barracuda, baby sharks, clown fish, turtles, and even eels! Of all the creatures we saw, the giant clams were probably the scariest! Just a small flicker of water will make 500 pounds of jaw muscle snap shut! We used caution to keep dangling limbs to a minimum.
My trip to Australia was amazing. It made me realize just how large the world is. There is so much more than just home. Seeing the places and lives of people on the other side of the world makes you feel a part of a larger “home,” knowing that over six billion people have lives of their own.
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