The new guy has a few nice touches of his own—this morning, for example, at Cradle Mountain, he got up at six and laid out our breakfast foods for us. But then he also provides constant commentary on the PA in the bus, yakking on about whatever crosses his mind while interspersing this with actual details we need. The chatter goes something like this:
"The man who owns that farms still makes those Dutch shoes, what are they called, clogs, today. Does anyone here wear clogs? Oh look, the sky ahead is blue. So maybe it isn't snowing tomorrow. We need to leave at eight but just to go down to the visitor's center where you can catch the shuttle bus. You know, no one can make you feel inferior. It's your own choice to feel inferior. Think about that."
"You can be quiet," said Carmen this morning. She's our Catalonian woman in her sixties. Sometimes I have no idea what she's on about either but in this case, I knew what she meant.
"I have to provide three hours of commentary a day at my job in Darwin," our guide explained.
Our group (aside from maybe me) is fairly polite, so no one pointed out the obvious that this isn't Darwin.
We knew we were in for a change yesterday morning when he drove us to a gorge walk in Launceston, rattled off some instructions (which led to me and another passenger arguing at a signed fork in the path), and six of the group of 17 (we lost some who had been on three-day trip and gained new ones) ended up at the wrong end point. The driver groused and found them with the list of phone numbers, and actually, it wasn't really their fault for not listening—it was more his fault for rattling on rapidly, giving too much information peppered with irrelevant commentary, and not clearly spelling out our instructions.
All that said, the guide is highly entertaining on those times when you aren't wishing you had duct tape to stick over his mouth.
After our gorge walk, we drove to a chocolate factory where I nearly made myself sick on butterscotch fudge, then headed to Cradle Mountain for hiking.
I didn't hike. I went to something called Wombat Hill and went wombat-seeking. I saw three in the first ten minutes, including a baby wombat. I did hike after that near the Interpretive Center, but the hike I chose was the height of wimpiness. There was even a sign at the start of the hike offering wheelchairs—yes, the hike was so smooth even a wheelchair could take the path.
Eventually, other passengers straggled in after three-hour walks, six-hour walks, and all kinds of in-between walks.
And at night, we all huddled in our dorms, trying not to make too much noise so as not to awake the others.
Yeah, I could do without the dorm thing. The rest I can manage all right.