What Actually Happened.
Day 1: We arrive, feel awkward and confused, but play an amazing game of Emperor and Scum.
Day 2: We attend the community’s Good Friday Passion Play, and then play an amazing game of Jungle Speed. That night we attend an Easter service (our third by that point) and find out that the children of the community are incredible/exhausting/insatiable/noisy.
Day 3: We plan and produce a festival for the kids. This goes for 2 hours until we are interrupted by an impromptu church service, the fourth Easter service by this point. We play more card games, visit a waterhole, and then go to yet another Easter service.
Day 4: We’re up at 5:30am to attend an Easter dawn service. We get home for a croissant-y breakfast, a round of cards, and then another Easter service. We get in trouble because we can’t keep the kids quiet enough. Then accidentally sign on for a few hours of cooking sausages for the entire community. Then we go home.
No wonder it’s a bit hard to put into words, right? But lets talk about that part in Day 2 where we finally meet the kids.
We weren’t quite prepared to be so beloved. And being beloved is exhausting. After plonking ourselves on the ground, a mob of kids jumped all over us. This probably sounds metaphorical; it isn’t. Chris, Aidan and Nan managed to find themselves instantly integrated into a game of marbles, while Heather, Phiona and myself became sitting apparatus. Phones were removed from pockets, selfies were taken, games were played, phones were gently taken back and placed back into pockets, and then they discovered how willing we were to give them piggy backs.
“Put me up there,” says Adalina, indicating my shoulders. It’s been a while since anyone’s been up there. Has anyone ever been up there? Can my back take it? Actually, no time for questions; she’s already climbed up. And there she’ll stay til the night is over.
“Let’s go this way”. She grabs my head and points me in a particular direction. I obey.
“Now over to that wall. I’ll show you a trick”. She grabs a rope and climbs from my shoulders up a wall. She reaches the top, makes sure I can see her, and then with a proud smile climbs back down. “Can we go get some water?” I figure the water must be close by. It isn’t.
Soon there’s a whole procession of us, with at least one Anangu child each tagging along, walking through the community at night to the water fountain on the side of the shop. To the swing set. To the other swing set. Not back to church yet, let’s climb this. And so on. It was more fun than any of us have had in a long long time, but by the time we got back to our accommodation that night we were dirty, tired, sore and with a ringing in our ears that couldn’t just be from the church’s massive speakers.
When I went to bed I found chewing gum on my shoulder.
“That was amazing,” one of us said. “But there’s three more days of it to go”.
Part 3 is here.