The last few days in Cairns have been great! I must admit, Thursday after Halloween I had no idea how I’d fill the time for the week I booked at the hostel, now that I leave tomorrow I feel like I could stay for weeks (which is what most people end up doing). The only thing pushing me to go is the fact that I have 87, yes EIGHTY SEVEN bug bites (I say bug because I haven’t got a clue what bugs they are) [ALSO, apparently sunscreen or baby oil stops sand flies and most mosquitos because they can’t get through the oil] (I was told this after bite 82), and it’s about to be 45 celcius with 100% humidity.
I have gone for runs in the morning the last few days…at ‘half six’ (6:30 am) because it gets too hot by 7:30. The Cairns promenade/esplanade is 6.5km from one end to the other and back, so it’s been slightly taxing on my previously sedentary limbs, but great for getting my mind back on track. I would probably have been wasted on ‘goon’ (10 dollar box wine…only sold past 4 pm because they don’t want aboriginals drinking it earlier…supposedly) nightly and extending my time in Cairns like the others. The downfalls: legs too sore to snorkel, sweat=premature laundry, BUG BITES, additional unneeded tan lines. I also played soccer for an hour in 35 degree, breezeless heat on Saturday which was royally terrible and contributed to bruises on my legs. So my legs are now unshaved (can’t get over the 27 bites on my right lower leg), bruised, and covered in bug bites…good thing I have my rumored boyfriend to love me anyway.
What does everybody around the world love? Gossip. My friend Simon (from England) …who has a girlfriend of almost 5 years…and I have been getting along well and hanging out quite a bit… Mostly because we both don’t smoke, like $1 cheeseburgers and 30c cones, need internet, don’t want to always be wasted, and are travelling alone starting in Cairns. If Simon were a girl it would be ‘so sweet you found somebody to travel with’ but instead it’s become ‘so you too ;)’. The good part is that we both find it quite entertaining because as Brits or Aussies would say, we’re just mates. So to milk it, we enjoy cooking meals together and being back sunscreen partners. Ahhh the comfortsof home. Oh, he’s also been teaching me ‘English’…instead of ‘Canadian’.
On that note, I’ve realized the only way I can tell Americans and Canadians apart is manners and the sound of the ‘a’ in the word Pasta. Unless of course they’re from the East, Mid West, or South USA. So really, I’ve gotten less mad at people thinking I’m American based on accent…it’s when they’ve known me for a week and ask where in the states that I’m from that feelings get hurt.
Even further tangent…I don’t know anybody’s name unless I’ve spent over 5 hours with them sober…until then they are their country. So really half my friends are Holland, the other are Germany…The only people I’ve really liked have been Aussies and Brits….and I know their names. Also, if you feel awkward, just think of me on a Barrier Reef trip with people I’ve been with for the last week asking ‘what’s your name again?’ The good part about backpacking is that there is a common understanding that nobody knows names…also that laundry sucks…also that eating carrots, apples, and crackers for dinner is part of a balanced diet. Also, when you electrocute yourself trying to unplug your cellphone from the adapter in the bathroom, people have also done it (2outlets in 8bed dorms).
I’ve also met a lovely girl named (or ‘called’) Ashley from England. I only spent a few hours hanging out with her but she may have been the most influential person on the mindset of my trip thus far. She has travelled New Zealand by herself for a year, then Oz for a couple months and has now set off to South east Asia. She is the one that inspired me to get over my hangover and go for a run (she has done 2/3 of her trip dry), and also made me feel okay about being overwhelmed by travelling alone. Pretty much the entire week in Sydney (besides while having fun with people) I was contemplating when I could come home that would be the least embarrassing (seeing as how I set out for a year+. I didn’t think my TFN would ever come, I didn’t think a non-creepy job offer would make its way through, and I didn’t think I’d meet any other travellers. Since meeting her and being in Cairns with loads of others who are fruit picking, not because they’re desperate but because they want a 2nd visa, has been a great shift of mindset for me. I definitely don’t want to (at this stage) stay for a second year…but it’s making me realize a year isn’t really all that long , and that the 3 months I was considering staying is way too short. I’ve also realized that while I have a good amount of cash but wanted more, most people here came with a quarter the funds I did…so I’m feeling much better about things. I’ve also met some hard to understand and frequently wasted individuals that have had sweet jobs, so by comparison I think I’ll be fine.
Done with the deep—ish thoughts…promise. Yesterday I headed off to the Great Barrier reef with another Canadian, Simon, and 2 Dutch from our hostel. A guy approached us at the public pool in Cairns and offered us a trip out for $50 bucks…so less than half price. The reason I’m writing now is so you know I didn’t die. Basically he (Steve) is sailing around the world, currently Australia, and stops at tourist points to transport travellers for a day for extra cash. He has 6 other travellers living in the boat as he makes 6 week trips from point to point along the coast. It was very bush league, but very fun. The sail to and from Green Island was gorgeous and the food was great. The barrier reef sucked where we were as did the snorkelling equipment, although I wasn’t really that disappointed. Most people actually didn’t see great reef in Cairns so I may try from another point…or just buy a postcard. I do really need to figure out how to swim properly though…when my mask filled I thought I was going to die.
Today we’re off on a free rainforest walk and BBQ organized by Nomads (our hostel) which should be fun….then off to plan the next leg of the trip…and maybe do laundry.