Posted by Barbanne on October 16, 2003 at 00:54:37:
PART ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY ONE
THE LOST CITY
I pulled the van over and got out and walked around to the passenger's side, letting Alex take over the driving.
Since we had left any semblance of a road and moved onto this goat track I found I just wasn't strong enough to fight the wheel as it racked back and forth, driven with a mind of its own by the racking of the wheels as they bounced and pounded over the stones and sandy mullock heaps.
We were on our way to the Lost City and the road (hah) through the Macdonnell Ranges was, to say the very least, rough.
I grinned at Jade and winked at Dave and Loreen and said, "Shit isn't it?" and just then we hit a bone jarring hump and my teeth clashed together and I said, "Yeeow!"
Then I said, "Fuck!"
"Alex when do we get to this effing place?"
"About another half hour love at this pace." (maybe ten kilometres per hour)
I sighed and settled down to having my bum bashed black and blue for another thirty minutes.
I'm an ignorant little shiela I suppose, but somehow I always thought the central desert would be like Lawrence of Arabia, but this country we were travelling through was like big red cliffs and scrubby stuff giving away at times to pockets of greenery and, amazingly, palm trees, where the summer storms left water trapped. There were also great dark caverns and so forth where a bloody army could have hidden.
And then we were there, at the famous lost city and shit, but those pillars of rock were lined up just like a mini Manhattan of nature.
Alex drove the van into a pull off, where the "road" widened out into a flat stoney spot, and killed the engine and we all piled out and Alex and Dave started talking shots and, together with Jade and Loreen, I talked really important stuff like where could us girls go and pee. Up amongst the scrubby blackboys (that's a plant) that was where.
It was cool but sunny down here and I yanked off my tee shirt and said, "Hey time to tan the tits."
"Just put it back on Barb," said Alex.
I winked at Jade and she and Loreen laughed but I covered up anyway.
Mustn't upset my hero!
I was wearing my "Dead Girls Never Say NO!" tee shirt and a pair of short, short, shooort denim shorts together with socks and Doc Marten's hiking boots and a floppy campaign hat. My outback gear. The others were similarly dressed in casual but sturdy clothes and we were ready for a day tromping around the rocks.
Alex loaded me up with camera gear, I rather suspect because he'd had enough of my smart mouth or maybe to keep me from drooling after him in soppyfied hero worship or just maybe because I was wearing that tee shirt which he didn't actually approve of.
Whatever, I was the pack horse and the others carried only the stuff they'd be using.
Except Jade. Alex sort of saw her as my mate (which she was) and she often got lumbered for my misdemeanors.
So away we went with Jade and I plodding along in the rear with all of the useless stuff and of course I whinged from the word go. By lunch time we had gotten deep into the wierd rock formation known as the Lost City and I was hot and tired and shitty and when Alex called a halt in the shade of an overhang and said, "OK Barb, us doco makers have been working hard, so what's for lunch?" I blew a gasket and went red in the face and said, "Fuckin' hemlock," and sat down in a snit and Alex said, "That sounds nice," and I started giggling and feeling foolish and dragged my sweat drenched body up and laid out our picnic lunch.
After that had been consumed, hah, pigged down might be more accurate, and we were lying there in the hot shade drinking tea I said, "So what's left to do?"
"Another couple of hours into the city," said Alex, "and then depending on what we find we'll probably head back to the van."
"Two more hours," I moaned, "and then back again," and I pushed out the front of my tee shirt to emphasise its message.
Even Alex smiled although he tried to hide it.
We tromped on through those strange pillars of sandstone and several times Alex and Dave called a halt and set up the camera and did shots of this or that. After maybe two hours I was getting hot and sticky and tired and cranky and I bleated, "When are we going back, come on I've had enough."
I bellyached, snivelled and groused some more and they were all looking at me like they'd like to slug me when Jade said, "Hey look at that!"
"What?" I moaned.
I plodded back. As an adventurer I'm a washout and I'm the first to admit it.
The others were standing with Jade following her pointing finger.
In between the stone walls a corner of an unmistakeably Spanish style building was visible.
"Must be the old Spanish mission."
"Why didn't anyone tell us?"
"Maybe no-one else knows its here?"
"Aw come on how couldn't someone know?"
"Maybe no-one looked down here before."
I snorted derisively.
"Prob'ly a tourist thing , hey, maybe its got MacDonalds and all..............I hope."
"Don't see too many tourists Barb."
"OK lets explore," said Jade.
"Ah shit," I said.
Off they went and I dragged along behind. The building was about a half a kilometre away and stood in a small sandy clearing and looked awfully derelict. We all followed Alex as he pushed the huge, iron bound, front door open and as it scraped creakily across the dust covered floor the sun shone into the old building for maybe the first time in a hundred years and lit up the gloomy interior of the old church.
"Bet some bastard shit in there and I'll tread in it," I mumbled.
"Don't be such a misery guts Barb."
"Hey Alex aren't you giving Barb enough satisfaction that she's such a whinger?"
"She gets fixed up alright," he said.
"Stop moaning and start exploring," said Jade.
We all trooped inside and I had to admit to myself that I was impressed by this ancient example of the amazing power of the faith of these old time dudes who had come to this god forsaken place back in the days when doing so must have been a huge trial, you know riding on horses and living off the land and no air conditioning and no shops and probably not even a decent supply of soap and you can bet no make up or stuff.........sheesh!
And then when they got here they built this vast white washed temple to their beliefs..........you're better than me guys I thought.
We pottered around looking at stuff and Dave shot off a heap of film of this memorial to bygone times and then I started to feel sick. I'm not religious so my interest wasn't great, although the mystery of it all appealed to me, and I really was hot and tired and I reckoned I might have had a touch of the sun.
I stumbled outside and the sun hit me hard and I doubled up and dry reached and then I looked up, feeling utterly shithouse and Oh cripes, there they were!
I couldn't believe my eyes.
I must be light headed, hallucinating.
Maybe I'd flipped my lid.
I felt faint and thought maybe I'd give in and slide into lovely black unconsciousness and when I woke up I'd be back in my bed.
Then one of them touched me and I screamed.
I heard Alex call out.
"What was that?"
"Sounded like Barb."
"What is it now?"
I leaned back into the doorway and called out, "Hey you guys, come here quick!!"
I heard them running and then they were there and I heard Jade squeal and even Alex gasped.
"Barb?" he said as though I might offer some explanation.
But I couldn't. Like the others I was looking at something that just couldn't be. I was looking at something that had not been seen by human eyes for two thousand years.