Princess Parrot

I did this odd little self-quiz thing called “visual DNA” from the NY Times a few weeks ago, and it said I was an “Adventurous Spirit.”  (The second time I did it, when I found this other link, it said “Go Getter,” which I guess is in the same realm).

I found the description of Adventurous Spirit disturbingly apt, related to how I like to think about myself:

You have an innate ability to see things from a number of perspectives and your inquisitive nature means that you are drawn to anything surprising or original. Forward-thinking and modernistic in your approach to life, moving with the times is important to you and you are not afraid to push a few boundaries from time to time. You are an emotional spirit and you make really strong connections. Good friends and lots of laughs are the recipe for really happy days. And nights!

Although I’m not so sure the “lots of laughs” thing would resonate with everyone, since I’ve been talking a lot about Serious Stuff lately.

Finch did the quiz thingy and got something like “Culturally Curious.”  Which also fits — but really, he’s one of the most adventurous people I know.  (Hence his nickname — I’ve said before that he’s like a cross between Bridget Jones‘ Mark Darcy and the real life Denys Finch-Hatton, of Out of Africa fame).

He arrived in Australia yesterday to embark on one of his outrageous quests.  He has wanted to see this rarely seen bird, the Princess Parrot, that is only endemic to Western Australia.   He managed to scrape together a small band of about four other people plus another guide, since, apparently, you need two vehicles to go this far into the outback because if you break down, you could die.

They’re going here,

which is described online somewhere like this:

You’ll find the Jupiter Well just off the Kiwirrkurra Road in Western Australia about 1460km northeast of Perth. Jupiter Well is at an altitude of approximately 328m. The nearest populated place is the village of Kintore which is 290km away with a population of around 680.

They’ll drive for something like 18 hours from Alice Springs (I probably have that wrong), and they’ll be there for anywhere from one to five days, depending how long it takes to find the Princess Parrot.  They’ll eat whatever they can buy in Alice Springs that doesn’t need cooking, cooling or water added — mostly crackers and dried fruit, I think — and they’ll hope that both vehicles don’t break down. Before he left, there was much discussion about whether it was worth buying tents for this voyage, considering the lack of rain and night-time flies.  We didn’t talk about snakes.

I asked him a little while ago if women ever go on trips like this, and he said he thought one of the clients was a woman.  It turned out he had that wrong — it’s a german or dutch man whose name sounds female in English — but before we figured that out, I was envisioning this leathery woman, like the one who wrote the book about traversing the Outback with her camels , and who, by the end, was traveling naked, subsisting almost entirely on tea, dripping menstrual blood, as she described it, like an animal.  I imagined that a woman who would go on Finch’s Parrot Pilgrimage might be the kind who didn’t want to crawl out of her bivvy bag in the night to pee, so might use the same pot she’d boil her coffee in in the morning.  (I made the mistake of explaining this vision to Finch, who is remarkably sensitive about the idea that someone might have urinated in his coffee pot considering he’s drunk tea made with curdled, warm yak’s milk).

But there is no coffee pot urinating Helga, nor even the real life, late Phoebe Snetsinger, who clearly would have joined this kind of jaunt.  Just Finch, and his four wheel drive stuffed with crackers and bottled water and zoom lenses, going down a dust track where one vehicle might pass in a week. In search of one bird.  THAT is an adventurous spirit.

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