Tonight we experienced almost simultaneous acts of stupidity, kindness, and sadness. The stupidity was all mine. The kindness and sadness came from complete strangers.
When we picked up our rental car the other night, the friendly counter agent informed me that it was illegal to drive the car on the beach.
“What are you talking about,” I asked. “One of the main reasons people come to Broome is to drive their cars out onto Cable Beach. So you can tell me it’s against the rules, but I’m going to do it anyway.”
She just laughed and said, “You won’t be the first, you won’t be the last.”
Tonight the unthinkable happened. We were flying down Cable Beach when I made the mistake of turning off the hard packed wet sand and onto the thick, fluffy, dry sand. It took about ten seconds for the car to bury itself axle-deep. I got out to survey the situation and had only enough time to say, ”We have a problem” when a ute (that’s Aussie slang for a utility truck, kind of a pick-up on steroids) circled around and pulled up behind us. Everyone inside the ute jumped outside to lend a hand.
The driver laughed and said, “You got bogged.”
Daisy, Maxey, Casey, and Michael pulled shovels from the back of the ute and began digging away the sand that had us trapped. I saw the shovels come out and said, “Wow. You guys really come prepared.” One of them told Jamie that they had driven around 1600 kilometers in 24 hours and had used the shovels to bury a family member earlier that day.
What does that even mean? We’ve all “buried” family members, but it’s just an euphemism that means we attended their funerals. None of us actually took shovels nor dug the graves. But we think that is exactly what they had done earlier today.
They appeared to be of some sort of aboriginal heritage, so we imagine that they had buried their relative back on their traditional lands as part of some sort of age old rituals. We both wanted to know more, but it just seemed inappropriate to ask about putting mom in the ground while they were digging our car out of the ground.
They were sweet, generous people with huge smiles splayed across their faces, something that you might not expect since they had attended a family funeral earlier that day.
After much digging, they finally got most of the sand removed from under the car, hooked a rope between their ute and our Nissan, and slowly eased us back onto the hard, flat, wet sand. We thanked them, shook hands all the way around, jumped back into our respective vehicles and made sure we both took the safe route back onto the paved road.
Thanks again to Daisy, Maxey, Carey, and Robert. Hope we run into you again someday when we can return the favor.