Twenty one countries by bicycle, twenty one nationalities where all people seem happy to greet us. On a loaded touring bike the vast majority of people lose their road rage and antagonism towards the bicycle. We receive waves, gentle toots of horns, ( though they don’t sound so gentle, the toot toot of a truck horn in a kilometre long tunnel!) smiles, shouts of hello, hallo, bravo, squeals of delight, children running, high fives, the occasional hand clap…..and waving. Each country in turn had its own style of hand waving, perhaps differing slightly from country to country but each wave each hand greeting remains homogeneous amongst the residents. Yes, the hand waves remained the same unless a thumbs up was thrown into the equation.
Not so in Australia.
We have received, thumbs up, and then, like a lazy drawl….the pointing finger raised slowly off the steering wheel… also twinkle fingers where five fingers wave reminiscent of a wiggling spider. Thumbs up again, with pointed finger, sometimes thumb following pointed finger in a sideways arch like pointing a gun harmlessly to the side.
Many of the truckies like to use their entire arm, outstretched clenched fist, there is the outstretched arm, splayed fingers, and then there is the military salute.
There is the frantic wave, arms and hands flying widely in case we do not see them, waves common from backpackers, in combi vans close to bursting or from kids gazing at us as cars overtake. The queens wave, stiff arm, fingers, hand moving, rotating side to side.
There is the “rock on” thumb and little finger….the shoulder and hand lift like WTF?,… and you are definitely loopy with finger doing circles close to the temple….and the singular head nod.
Australians greetings are as diverse and sweet as the fruit handed out of car windows to travelling cyclists. Happiness, sharing, recognition, strangers, a wave hello or goodbye keeps our morale strong.
Leaving a reply helps us over the hurdles