I've spent the last 2 days reading Bill Bryson's Down Under, which sent me into fits of giggles at inopportune moments (ie. on trains)(Have you ever made a socially unacceptable noise (eg. giggling uncontrollably) while seated in a compartment with Germans? You'd swear I'd just threatened to eat their first born children, they could not have been more horrified).
Anyway I finished it this morning over breakfast and it launched me into one of the wonderful homesickness slides which are the bane of expats everywhere. Usually all you can do is ride it out, wait until the desperate urge to jump on the next plane passes, and spend hours telling yourself "No, it is really not THAT bad here. You want to be here, you want to be here. Say it together now - you WANT to be here".
But as I arrived at work this morning, slowly pushing the pedals of my bike (not required as it's a downhill run, but at least it made me feel as if I was half-heartedly attempting to get there), the incredible happened. A fellow Aussie cured me of my homesickness.
Now I didn't think it was possible. Normally expats just stick together in these moments of depression and sympathise, but he actually stopped it altogether with a rather unorthodox, if not somewhat cruel, technique.
He showed me a recent newspaper article.
Apparently, not far from where we work, Hamburg toads are exploding. Yep, exploding. They are swelling up to 3 times there size at night and then popping, letting their entrails fly up to a metre away. The location of the "Pond of Death" where this is occuring wasn't clearly stated, and apparently has been fenced off for people's security, but I'm planning on putting together an expedition to hunt for it and observe this phenomenon. It seems that noone knows why it's happening - could be a strange virus brought in by South American horses, and noone knows if it may affect humans, so there is included an element of thrill and danger which you rarely find in suburban Hamburg.
But in the face of such news how could I stay homesick? I mean, Australia may have all my family, my oldest and most trusted friends, friendliness, space, good weather and a wide selection of affordable seafood, but Hamburg has exploding toads.
What more could you want?