Cairns, Queensland, Australia
On my week off of school, I decided to take a risk and fly to Cairns with two friends from the Australian Studies Program. We took an early morning flight on Monday and arrived just past noon. Cairns is in the North-eastern portion of Australia. It is a major tourist destination because of the Great Barrier Reef, beautiful beaches, and the Daintree rainforest.
On our first day in this sleepy little town, we went to a beach called Palm Cove. The guide recommended it as the best beach in the area. I don't know about the best, but it was the most expensive for sure! Luckily, everything I wanted to do was free! I laid out on the beach and walked on the pier. On my way back from the pier, I talked to a roadside vender. I asked him about the salt water crocs because of the multiple warning signs about them all along the beach. He sort of laughed (thinking dumb tourist I'm sure), but then answered causally, "They are around." There is an area of the beach that is enclosed by a net to keep out (deadly, poisonous) jellyfish. He told me that last year about 3 beaches down from Palm Cove, a woman took a morning swim in the netted area and saw a log in the water. When she got done with her swim, she told some beach workers that there was a log in the netted area they should get out... little did she know it was a SALTWATER CROC!!!! Yes, this woman had no clue she was swimming with a living, breathing, deadly, aggressive beast! Needless to say, this southern girl (i.e. me) decided it was best to stay away from the water... and I made sure other people were closer to the shore... just in case a croc wanted a snack! Unfortunately, I wasn't as good at avoiding the harmful UV rays. When I got back to the room, I looked like a lobster. I do not think I have been this red in my life. I seriously could not sleep for 3 nights because my skin hurt SO BAD! The lesson you should take: never, ever, ever go on an Australian beach with only 30 SPF. The sun in 7 times brighter... and will make you 7 times redder! GUARANTEED!
Yesterday, we went to the Great Barrier Reef. It was amazing! We were able to take a semi-sub ride and see the reef underneath the water through glass. Unfortunately, I didn't see Nemo, BUT I did see a shark, a stingray, a seaturtle, and many fish and other amazing creatures. After the sub, we went snorkelling. I have always had a fear of water that I couldn't see through, but I learned something on the reef I never knew about myself before: I am dreadfully terrified of the ocean. Snorkeling on the reef was beyond words. It was exhilarating and fun and beautiful, but the entire time instead of thinking about the colourful fish, I was looking for sharks, crocs, and jellys. While my friends stayed out snorkelling, I went back to the shore and sat looking at all the other people snorkelling. I'm sure I was a sight... I was standing ankle deep in the water with the cold rain beating against my back. I had a terrified look on my face and I was shivering. I stood there for what seemed like hours just thinking that any minute snorkelers would start disappearing before my eyes. It didn't happen, but if I stayed in the water... I guarantee that something deadly and poisonous would have come for me!
On Good Friday, we planned to go shopping in Cairns. We had no idea that the WHOLE TOWN SHUTS DOWN! Good Friday is a public holiday and they take holidays seriously here in Australia. I admit it is wonderful to rest. God commands us to do it and in my opinion we have gotten so far away from resting like God intended it... but the selfish side of me just wanted to go look at the shops in the neat little town (this is the point that you should ignore that I'm being selfish and feel sorry for me!) So, we went to the city anyways and ended up at a barbeque restaurant called "Hogs Breath" instead of the Australian restaurant (that was closed) that sold Kangaroo. Yes, I ordered bbq, no it did NOT taste like southern bbq. The walls were covered with American posters and license plates and they played country music. The atmosphere honestly reminded me of Jim n Nick's bbq at home. Anyways.... by the time we left I was so homesick that I was in tears... yes, tears. It was good for me though. I realized how much my home means to me. As much as I love to travel, everyday I realize how much the south is ingrained in every fiber of my being. There is something about breaking away from my normal, mundane life that has helped me accept who I am and where I come from... but I'll explain all that in a future blog!!!
As for now, I challenge you to listen to the adventures of your heart. Regardless of how big or little, I bet if you listen, you will see yourself in a totally different light. I know I do!