This was intended to be a short post, because my hands are freezing, but my fingers warmed up a little after I started typing. The temperature here at Melbourne, where I am spending the Days in the Dioceses (DID), is supposed to be from 8-15 degrees Celsius, but it dropped to 4 degrees Celsius last night. Brrrr! I’m glad I wasn’t sleeping out in the open. That will be reserved for Randwick Racecourse on July 19th, where we will be having Vigil Mass with the Pope and sleeping under the stars.
Speaking of stars, I couldn’t sleep on the flight to Melbourne and, apart from watching “The Pursuit of Happyness” (a great show, but will not review here, not now anyway), I spent much of it staring out the window. I’m thankful I got a window seat, so that I could stare out into the open instead of watching another movie, or playing Pokemon on the Krisworld entertainment system.
When I opened my window shade, I was greeted by a black land (it was night) and black sky dotted with lots of beautiful stars, and both sections separated by a thin line of orange at the horizon. I stared at the stars until I could not see them anymore. I was facing the three stars in a line that forms Scorpio’s tail (I think) and Orion’s belt (again, I think). Fr Aloysius should be able to correct me. I also faced the Big Dipper, but could not identify the handle among the many stars in the sky. I’ve always loved astronomy, except the part about constellations.
As the time passed, the thin orange line grew into a band of orange and I could see more and more of the land below. We were passing over desert in the middle of Australia as the sun rose. Since we were flying almost straight south, I was treated to a very beautiful sun rise as the orange disc slowly crept over the horizon. My only regret that morning was that I wasted too much time taking photos (which turned out nothing like the real thing, even with my good camera), and did not take in the full minute or so which the sun too to rise.
[To Tabitubby: The sunrise at Tiger's Hill was better, but it's my first time seeing a sun rise from a plane.]
Before the sun acquired its brilliant glare, I caught glimpses of the land that we were flying over. I later found out that the rivers and waters that we were passing over – in the middle of the desert – was none other than Alice Springs. I must remember to look out for Ayers Rock when we fly back later this month.
We landed in Melbourne at about 9.20am, and spent close to two hours in the queue through customs. Our flight was delayed by a strong headwind, so Melbourne airport was not equipped to handle the huge crowd arriving from multiple planes at the same time. I was the last from my contingent to find my way to the baggage claim, because I doubled back through the immigration queue in panic to find my borrowed laptop, only to find it a few seconds later slung on my shoulder. (Boy, was I embarrassed!) That’s what a sleepless night on the plane will do to you.
Even so, I was among the first five from my contingent to make it out of the super long queue at customs, because I had nothing to declare, unlike the other members of my contingent, many of whom brought vitamins and medicines.
We exited Melbourne Airport and amused ourselves by blowing vapour from our mouths as we waited to board the chartered bus which took us to the parish church of Our Lady Help of Christians. It was here that we spent the next two days attending an ICPE-organized FireBrandz Conference, together with pilgrims from the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Korea, India, Slovakia, and Australia. It was like a two-day long youth rally, full of members from the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. Not exactly my cup of tea, but then, it is a youth event.
Mass on the first day was celebrated by none other than the Archbishop of Melbourne himself, Archbishop Denis James Hart. I won’t bore you with the details of the rest of the conference, but it was kind of fun.
Mass on the second day was celebrated by the 18-year parish priest and it was… liturgically inappropriate. I find breaking out into tongues in the middle of Mass quite disturbing, especially if it’s done, like, three times? And I believe I’ve never seen a priest dance and clap at the altar before… even at a youth event.
After Mass, I headed out of the church for a break from the endless jumping, dancing, singing and all, and took a stroll with a friend around the block until it became dark (about 5.45pm, since it’s winter here) then we hurried back.
I don’t have any photos to show you, because I’m not able to connect my borrowed laptop to the Internet yet, and I’m currently using my host’s computer which cannot support another USB card reader, and I’m too tired (and aching) to figure out how to now. I think teenage girls going on a pilgrimage to World Youth Day should not pack a suitcase of stuff that’s too heavy for them to carry up a bus. Luckily there are lots of nice guys here to help carry the stuff for them… especially this really tired guy who just wants to get to a nice warm house, with a nice warm bed to jump into… which is what I’m going to do right now.
Tata! Until my next post… which I’m not sure when it will be…
Filed under: World Youth Day 2008