The last Australia post
By Robin Abrahams
There's nothing like getting sick in a foreign country to give you a perspective on what makes for good manners and what doesn't. As noted, the hotel maid who encountered me during my first day of jet-lagged misery was kind to a degree unprecedented in my experience of hotel maids. (I'm not temperamentally suited to relying on the kindness of strangers; I've always found the strangeness of kindred to be a far more reliable proposition.)
Jet lag came and went quickly in Sydney, and by the time we traveled to Tasmania I was in good shape--until we drove out to the west coast. On a twisty, mountainous road with a very high speed limit, notorious throughout the state for its effect on travelers.
I've never been sick like that before, and was quite horrible. The fact that I know more or less what causes motion sickness (your motion-sensing system and your vision are giving you contradictory signals, which makes your body think you've ingested a toxin), didn't help one bit. I tried to meditate my way out of it but no dice, the mind-body connection was only going one way and it was the wrong one.
So we stopped at a local tourist attraction, The Wall in the Wilderness, and Mr. Improbable hustled me inside. Now, this thing was not exactly Disney World, you understand; it was both newly built (not even finished, really) and in a remote location. Admission was $7. And without that $7, the man at the desk would not let a visibly sick woman use the bathroom.
Bad manners, bad thinking. Had they let me in, I would have given them a fiver or so out of gratitude, or bought a tea towel or something. (Tea towels are big in Tasmania.) Instead, my husband and I and our local travel companions will always remember this place as the place where they wanted to charge a sick person $7 to use the bathroom. And we'll tell people, too. Now why on earth would a young tourist attraction want that story to be going around? (We eventually did find an open bathroom, and a nice cold ginger beer, at the Hungry Wombat Cafe a few kilometers on. Yes, I only put that detail in so I could write "Hungry Wombat Cafe." Wouldn't you?)
I didn't walk very far, and at dinner that night I was still feeling downright moribund, completely wiped out, and only then did our friend Paula explain that once you've got it bad, the sickness can go on for a long while after the motion stops. She didn't say that earlier and spoil my hopes of a quick recovery; she only said it when it was obvious that I was starting to wonder if something worse than motion sickness was going on. Many of us--and I can be a terrible offender at this, myself--get so excited when we know something that we just bust out our knowledge the minute an opportunity arrives to do so. Paula was smarter than that: she waited until her knowledge could do me some good before she shared it. Good manners, good thinking.