I never thought I’d go to Uluru/Ayer’s Rock.
To start, I thought my chances of making it to Australia were low until quite recently, and even then, I figured I’d be hugging the coast. But a reluctance to tackle Oz on my own landed me on a tour.
Find a map of Australia. Stab your finger right in the middle. That’s about where we went.
After gaping at Uluru from afar, we got to walk around the base. I found myself walking next to a guy named Josef (nicknamed “Swissy,” by our irrepressible guide, to go with “Frenchie,” “Dutchy,” “the British Brigade,” “Big Fella,” and me, “Katie-Kates”). Josef and I are both fairly fast walkers, and we had just enough to talk about to keep the silences from getting awkward, though neither of us minded tramping along with our own thoughts, which kept the conversations from getting awkward, too.
Towards the end, we arrived at a water hole, nestled into the side of the rock. A helpful sign informed us that it was a sacred site, the most consistent water source around, and guarded by a snake spirit that provided the Aboriginal people with water. It also suggested that this was “a good place to listen to country.”
So we did. Gradually, the sounds from the not-too-distant carpark and roaming families fell away, replaced by the wind rustling the reeds and whistling through the stones. The pool was absoutely still.
Until it began to ripple. It sparkled, as though tiny copper beads were being drawn across its surface- slowly at first, then quicker. Very pretty, but slightly unnerving.
See, the water hole was in complete shadow. The sky was cloudless, but that bright Australian sun missed us completely- I’d just done my jacket up again. I was wondering if I was insane when Josef coughed.
“The water, it’s shining. But that is not possible, is it?”
“I don’t know,” I answered.
We watched as the lights faded. And then, before we could exhale, they started again, even more of them. Josef shifted nervously.
“Perhaps it is reflecting the rock face?”
“Maybe.” I looked up. The sun hit a slab of orange rock a few metres above. The colour wasn’t exactly right, and I’m still not sure about angles, but it may have been possible. “I don’t know.”
We spent a few more minutes. It was still so, so quiet, and I think we were both slightly disquieted when we left.
Trick of the light? Spirits? Something else?
I don’t know.
And that’s fine with me.