Day two in Sydney begins. I arrived yesterday and dragged my suitcase for over 30 minutes as I was unsure which stop was closest to my friend's house where I was staying. I chose wrong. Arrived at 730am, was lucky to catch Mike and Jenny before they headed off to work and then, oh joy oh rapture, I had 3 full hours to unpack, shower, and get lost (on purpose of course) en route to meeting up with all the WYA people.
Wandering through Sydney was a rather strange experience. Normally when I travel, its to a place where English is not the primary language. Talking to people in Australia where all the signs are in English, I kept being surprised by how many people had Aussie accents! Until I reminded myself that I was the foreigner... Sydney is quite a lovely city, small enough to walk everywhere in the downtown but large enough also to provide surprises upon turning a corner and encounting a park, the harbour, or one of the backalley crime-filled streets :)
Pilgrims for WYD are everywhere, there are seas and oceans and rivers of orange-red-yellow backpacks. Each group has its own flag so that it feels like wandering through a moving, young United Nations. I met a group from Papua New Guinea yesterday and have added a new flag to my country repertoire. Its so much fun, everyone here wishes to meet people and discover as much as they can, being with a group of Filipinos we're meeting expat's from all over the world and I'm desperately seeking a Canadian flag now to distinguish myself.
Everyone is incredibly friendly. I'd heard customs could be quite tough but upon arriving at the airport the customs official had just papercut himself. I suggested he get his buddy to kiss it better and then asked him not to touch my passport or I would get accused of murder next time I travelled. He didn't ask any questions. Then while waiting for my luggage I thought I'd better eat my banana before it got taken away from me, and security approached me and told me to be sure I ate all my fruit before claiming my luggage as I shouldn't have any at this point. People on the streets also have all been exceptionally nice and gone out of their way to provide me with directions in my chronically lost state.
Yesterday evening we travelled to Sydney Harbour to greet the Pope. He arrived and spent quite some time waving to all the youth before getting in the Popemobile and driving to the stage. Once there he gave an incredible talk about environmentalism and the importance of stewardship, and linked destruction of the environment to many other problems in the world today due to selfishness and greed. It was quite relevant to the problems faced by young people worldwide and I'll definitely be searching for a copy of the speech upon my return.
By 6pm jetlag had hit, and hard. Once the rally ended we walked back to the downtown, stopped for some chinese food in Chinatown and then I left for home. Had a quiet evening with Mike and Jenny and then crashed, till now as I prepare for a new day of WYD and head out in a couple minutes.