Slices from Life

Colorado Comes to Eden

Photographs & Narrative by Meredith Stephens

We had safely completed our voyage back across the Coral Sea from New Caledonia to Australia. The next leg was south, from Shellharbour to Eden, hugging the New South Wales coast. Unlike our outbound voyage, the whales were no longer in sight. They must have returned to Antarctica after having come north for calving. I was encouraged by the sight of dolphins accompanying us for spurts of the voyage.

We had hoped to reach Eden by midnight but somehow the trip dragged on until 3.30 am. I wanted to pull my weight during the night sail but was overwhelmed by fatigue and fell into a deep sleep on the sofa. Meanwhile, Alex directed the vessel to a safe point in the bay and dropped anchor.

The next morning in the security of daylight we moved the boat closer to shore, and spied a cruise ship at the docks. It was such a surprise to see a vessel with a capacity of thousands at the wharf of a township of only around three thousand two hundred people.

We made our way to shore in the dinghy, then climbed the steep hills into Eden to provision our boat for the next few days. We noticed tandem cyclists in bright lycra outfits making their way up the hill from the wharf into the town. We greeted them and their accents told us that most of them were from America. Each cyclist had a place name emblazoned on the back of their shirt. Some read California, others the Netherlands. We walked up the main street towards the supermarket, making way for passing cyclists on the footpath.

After we emerged from the supermarket laden with shopping bags, the last of the tandem cyclists, an older couple, were struggling up the hill. Curious, we couldn’t help asking that tedious question that tourists are asked worldwide.

“Where are you from?”


“Wow!” I exclaimed. I had never met anyone from Colorado in Australia. Now that the borders were open after pandemic closures tourists must be eager to resume roaming the globe.

A workman in an orange, fluorescent jacket approached the tourists from Colorado.

“Are you with the cruise ship?” he enquired.

I assumed it was an innocent question, or at least a polite enquiry.

“Yes,” they confirmed.

“Can you please tell the cruise ship company to tell these cyclists how to mind their manners? Some of them are cycling on the wrong side of the road. Others are cycling through bitumen that we have just laid,” complained the workman.

“What did he say?” enquired the Colorado tourist of his wife,

She was better able to understand his accent than her husband, so she interpreted it for him.

“We are the last off the boat so there won’t be any more problems,” she reassured the workman, as they resumed their cycle.

“Enjoy the rest of your trip!” I urged them, trying to counter the rudeness of the workman.

“Thank you!” she replied, turning back and beaming at me.

I was surprised that the workman had chosen to berate the tourists. Perhaps he could have contacted the cruise ship managers. I hope the tourists received more civility at their next port of call. When you are a tourist and have no friends in the country you are visiting, it’s those unanticipated encounters with locals that form the lasting impressions.

Meredith Stephens is an applied linguist from South Australia. Her work has appeared in Transnational Literature, The Muse, The Font – A Literary Journal for Language Teachers, The Journal of Literature in Language Teaching, The Writers’ and Readers’ Magazine, Reading in a Foreign Language, and in chapters in anthologies published by Demeter Press, Canada.


Click here to access the Borderless anthology, Monalisa No Longer Smiles

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