Caren Ware's Blog

July 30, 2010

OUTBACK!!!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Caren Ware @ 12:02 am

Its a long run to that rock!


My son said we had to go exploring. I agreed.  I am sure there are ways to get around out here that are less touristy, but we had  a very limited window of time so I paid the ridiculously high price of taking a tour and then realized that is entirely the only way for them to make money out here.  The resort complex, with its Disneyland feel, really did make it pretty comfortable to base a marathon from. Suck up the prices and enjoy the fact that we are here, Caren.  But more than being entertained, I sincerely desired to know for real what the aboriginal culture was experiencing as the western culture vacationed in their lives.

When I was on a train to the Blue Mountains back in October during a break from the World Games competition in Sydney when an aboriginal teen had stepped into the car at one of the towns.  She never entered a cabin.  She never took a seat.  She looked sad.  Angry.  Glaring nervously about and avoiding all eye contact.  I made up a story for her as my daughter says I am good at doing.  I read in her that she was totally alone, abandoned by the sandwiching of two cultures and her age.  She wanted so bad to fit in with this crowd that came and went and went to school, but doing so would so displease her family .  Family was strong, and no matter, if she ditched that cultural upbringing, she would not fit into this other world anyway.  So she glared to cover up the tears that wanted to burst out her chest.  And the train full snubbed her and looked not just past her, but through her.  I was amazed.

Having picked out 7 special teen Hispanic boys from the Hood in Los Angeles and reward their determination to be great runners by sponsoring them with shoes, opportunity, and a home I could not look through her or even past her, but hurt for her.  My boys grew into accomplished runners that all made it into universities and colleges, but to what avail?  Although they got student visas, once graduated, a few of them would still have the challenge of being illegal.  High school graduates, college graduates, some going on to get their Masters degrees.  They were constantly having their cars impounded.  Pulled over for a minor infraction and not able to produce a driver’s license or such and the car that they had washed dishes for over a year was impounded.  Towed away with their computer and college text books to never be seen again.  It has happened to my boys more times than someone would want to put up with .  And it is only one of the grave facts of being a man without a country.

The tour guide to Ayers Rock intrigued me.  He was quiet.  He was simple.  He was simply Outback and as we walked and talked I got a feel that he loved his land and its variables, especially the people…the real plight of the aborigines .  I chatted with him as we wandered back from  an aboriginal cave painting and a picturesque water hole that is stowed away enough in the shade of this enormous rock formation, this and another rock formation the only landmark rises in this entire vastness. The rest of it looks like the bottom of an ocean.  I shared with the guide my flight and plight with my Mexican boys.  I related the shunning I witnessed of the aboriginal girl on the train.  I told him about my mom being half Cree American Indian and all the medical difficulties that she inherited with that.  I could feel the Aussie turn the knob from tour guide to an Aussie sharing some information with an American.  I wondered how many tourists took the time to understand ‘for real” what was going on with the aborigines.  Lots of time spent exploring Alaska had introduced me to the alcohol damaged and lack of incentive our own Indian population was dealing with.  In Alaska, I got to travel through villages and see the plump signs of alcoholism even in the teens and ladies as they sat around collecting government checks and just keeping up the village because that is what they had always done.

The guide stopped and asked if we could exchange emails. I really want to keep in contact and learn what I know he knows.  It has to be much different in reality to live here than the Disneyland resort we got to vacation in.

He dropped us off and we thanked him for a day of getting to see the rock up close and personal.  We were hungry and headed to the only grocery store.  An aboriginal family was outside the store.  Two older women sat cross legged in the dirt waiting.  A tall man was leaning against a tree.  His skin was so dark I couldn’t make out his facial features under his leather hat.  Two teen girls and a toddler were waiting the permission to enter the store.  I couldn’t help it.  To my daughter’s horror I walked up, stuck my hand out, and said, “Hi.  I am Caren from California.  It is a pleasure to meet you.”

The entire clan stared at my outstretched hand and didn’t move. I turned to the teens and asked if they spoke English. One clasped her hand over her mouth and giggled.  The other dutifully looked at the ground.  The older women got up and the entire clan moved away from me and my arm in the air.  So here I will write a story for them.  The older women shot me the most searing of looks. “Please don’t encourage my beloved kids away from me.  We are all we have.  Please.  Just stay away.”  I already knew from the guide that these Anunga people believed that if a person’s photograph was displayed after they died that their spirit stayed in that flat piece of paper. In respect to that belief,  the cultural center in the national park at Ayres Rock had covered the faces of those that had died.  In respect to these people, I restrained from my deepest desire to take a photograph with them and this part of my blog will be pictureless.

I glanced at the store and saw my daughter watching me from behind the store window.  What would I feel like if someone was trying to steal my daughter away from me?  Our own culture had tried many times and come close to succeeding.

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