It was properly warm now as we left Daly Waters. Not long after that we reached Katherine and civilization again, with traffic lights and pedestrians and a large Woolworth's shipping center. We crossed the Gorge and Fireman told me how incredibly high the water had risen a few years back during a flood that wiped out the town.
Now on the final stretch we passed several bicyclists risking their lives (and those of others) pedaling up the narrow edge of the two lane highway. The termite mounds had grown, now taller than a man, proper skyscrapers of little bugs.
At the outskirts of Darwin I felt the humidity of the nearby sea. The city had grown wider and taller since I was last here almost twelve years ago. We stopped to buy a box of cider to enjoy when we reached home. I was asked to show my passport. Did they honestly think I was under age?
At last we arrived at the Fireman's house and immediately I was remembering our days here twenty one years ago. The place had aged a bit but otherwise not changed, aside from the addition of a little tiki bar, the Spanish Moon, behind the pool. The cyclone damage from last March was not as bad as expected, mostly just palm branches on the ground.
We joined the house tenants, Mal and Keith, on stools around the bar for drinks and catching up. They gave us the latest news on Darwin, neighbors, and the cyclone. After dark we set up the scope to check out the quarter moon and Jupiter and hung out past midnight, but still in shorts and t-shirts, on the upstairs balcony.
Keith had a spare room for Fireman and I took the couch in the living room. In the night I heard critters run across the roof, as we do in Sri Lanka. It was feeling like home here. Keith got up at some dark hour to head out on a job to count crocodiles for a few days and won't be back until after I leave.