It’s my last full day here today. I’m leaving on the afternoon plane tomorrow. I’m exhausted (see previous post about the 714 sentences!). I’m having a break from doing the slides for my talk at CDU on Friday, and I’ve caved and put on the air conditioner for the first time this trip. I did a bit of work with someone this morning, then the rest of the day’s been spent with slides, backing up (including taking photos of my dictionary draft with all my handwritten notes on it), chucking stuff out, working out what needs to go to people, and as usual at the end of a trip worrying about how to get all my hand luggage back safely.
At one level, I’m glad to be leaving. It’s been a harder trip than previous ones, with the Intervention, mami not being here, hotter (and now very humid), and a whole heap of endless checking questions, which is always less fun for everyone than telling jokes and getting bush tucker. There’s been criticism and jealousing this time too, and we compressed a huge amount of stuff into the last four and a half weeks. I also want to get back to the historical part of the Pama-Nyungan project, and so something other than transcription and data entry. The food’s also been extremely boring and I’m looking forward to eating something that has a used-by date days or weeks rather than years ahead. Mind you, the M&Ms with a ‘best before’ of 2001 were pretty special.
On the other hand, I’ve spent more time in Milingimbi than in any other part of Australia in the last 4 years. I’ll miss walking to work, getting woken up by kookaburras, and all that. I think that linguists get to see the best sides of communities as well as the worst, and it’s good to be here to be reminded that the impression given in the new outlets is, for the most part, misleading.