Sunday, December 13, 2009

Day 53: the Great Barrier Reef, yall!

(December 10)

T & I woke up early to go on a day trip out to the Great Barrier Reef. We were supposed to be downstairs to put our bags in storage at 7:15 & catch the bus to the boat at 7:20. BUT the bus was 10mins early, the front desk of the hostel was 10mins late & the bus driver wouldn't wait. The jerk left without us! We had to leave our bags in the lobby, book it, in the heat & humidity (yes, even that early) by foot, all the way down to the wharf -normally a 20min walk - and got there JUST in time. Sweaty & starving & exhausted, we collapsed into cabin seats & found out from the other passengers that the bus driver was early for everyone, rude to everyone, & had actually had a change of heart & turned around to go back for us but we'd already left. Yikes.
We caught our breath, said our gratitudes for having caught the boat, & immediately things got heaps better. It was SUCH a perfect day.

There weren't many passengers, the crew was friendly & funny, and they fed us breakfast, lunch & wine & cheese. The day was overcast but it didn't matter - we were diving!

I was one of only 3 certified divers on the boat & the only one that made it through the whole dive! One guy got too low on air & the other guy just wussed out & wanted a boat lift back. So the last 15 mins of my dive, it was just me & the instructor & it was great. I also got to dive without a wetsuit, which was so fun.

The visibility was really good & even down 50 feet, the colors were brilliant. We swam over shelves of coral & down into valleys, through fissures, and actually got to touch down & feel the sandy bottom! Every other time I've dived, I've had to wear a wetsuit & gloves, so picking up a handful of reef sand was really amazing.

After that dive, we had lunch & talked to a really cool single mom from Canada who gave herself a holiday as soon as her youngest turned 18. We all signed up for a second dive (they had done the intro dive), but changed our minds when we heard we could go on a guided snorkel with a marine biologist! Yes, we're nerds.

It was a good choice. We learned so much about the reef, saw a sea turtle & a deadly fish, and got to touch a sea cucumber, pineapple sea cucumber, and the inside of a giant (and I do mean GIANT) clam - felt like velvet!! It was a really cool experience & since only 5 people signed up, it lasted longer than the scuba dive!

I got tons of (if I do say so myself) beautiful pictures - just not on my phone. I can't wait to upload & share them with yall!

If you are ever in Cairns, do the Reef Experience; its a great value for the money & so much fun. I'd do it again.

Enjoyed the wine & cheese on the way back, talked & looked at pictures. Got back to the hostel & had 7 hours to kill before we had to catch a greyhound to Airlie Beach. Yikes. Retrieved our luggage & the hostel manager was kind enough to let us take showers even though we didn't have a room for the night. It was so hot that as soon as we were clean, we were sweating again. Ugh. Got caught up in a conversation with a super nice guy from Israel who's been traveling for a year & has a ton of interesting stories. We talked for while, until our hunger got the best of us.

Walked down to get some dinner & stumbled across a $9.50 dinner & a drink deal so a place with live music! (T is pictured with the musician behind her) It was nice & cool, the music was good, the food was decent, and both of us, at the same time breathed out a contented, "what a perfect day."

If only it'd ended there.

Went back to the hostel, sat on the couch and read. For 3 hours. Tried hard to not fall asleep. T didn't succeed.

At 11pm, we gathered up our heavy-as-hades backpacks & bags onto our exhausted bodies, and stepped out into the thick night air to immediately begin sweating again. We kept ourselves from cursing by playing the "it could be worse" game - it could be raining, the bottoms of our feet could be sunburned... Etc. It was possibly the longest walk I've ever made, to that bus station.

Finally got there & couldn't find the dang correct bus bay! Luckily there was a really nice Welsch guy waiting for the same bus & he knew where to go. And wouldn't you know it, as soon as we got there it started pouring. It could be worse...

The bus driver was in a terrible snippy mood but we finally boarded the packed bus & settled in for, well, hopefully a couple hours of sleep...?

Today I'm so grateful & happy for:
~ scuba diving!!
~ seeing the Great Barrier Reef - the only collection of living organisms that can be seen from space.
~ catching the boat, catching the bus
~ the kindness of strangers
~ having a travel buddy in all this madness

Xo! n.


  1. I can't wait to see those underwater pictures!!

  2. WOW!
    Lucky Lady.
    I 2nd what Ms Schmidt said.
    Stay safe.


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