Great Barrier Reef, Cairns

The weather forecast appeared to be rain, but waking up on dive day it was sunny. I walked down the street to the marina to meet the boat. I stopped for a coffee along the way, this time finally ordering an iced coffee correctly (they tend to put sweetener and whipped cream in it if you don’t say otherwise). After a brief welcome and safety overview, we headed out to sea.

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The trip out was pretty smooth and not too long, and if I sat up top I didn’t feel seasick. We arrived at the first dive spot after about an hour. They had us wear a stinger suit due to jelly fish high season. They handed you a size just by eyeballing you and I have to say, I’m flattered. After squeezing myself in and managing to zip it up I waddled over to the back of the boat where we first did a snorkel. There were more fish than I’m used to seeing and the coral was pretty colorful, but not nearly what I imagine it was 20 years ago….On that note, did you know that 500,000,000 straws are thrown away each day? That’s a lot of plastic. A straw isn’t always necessary if you really think about it. My new drink of choice is now a vodka soda lime with no straw.

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Then it was our time to dive. I went with Megan (Canada) and Alejandro (Argentina-who happened to do hilarious impressions of our guide, WELL DONE friends!). Going below the surface was exactly how I remembered it from 15 years ago. There is excitement, yet it’s very calm. Snorkeling can only get you so close to the reefs, but diving puts you face to face with these colorful and lively creatures that you don’t normally get to see. We made our way around the reef and eventually spotted a giant clam. I’m not joking, this clam was the size of small couch. It almost seemed fake, until the guide put his hand near it and it all of a sudden snapped shut!

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The second dive site was a bit more shallow, but had larger creatures such as sharks, turtles and stingrays. I was allowed to take my GoPro this time but it turns out that water pressure pushes on the GoPro button and if you don’t turn it on before you go down it won’t work :/// It could be worse, one girl put her SIM card into a hired camera and then dropped it into the ocean only to lose all of her photos and had to pay for the camera.

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After diving we could snorkel out to a small sand island. It wasn’t an easy swim, the current was strong. I finally made it and pulled up on shore to betold that we had to stay there for awhile due to a big swell coming. I looked over and saw what he was talking about. A few people were worried, but I was just looking forward to my own Castaway movie.

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After getting back to the hostel it was time decide what other adventure I can have while here. Lucia (London) and I went to the travel desk and after about an hour of hemming and hawing, we decided to jump out of a plane. I said I would never go again, unless someone else really wanted to go. She had never gone sky diving before so I guess this is it. I write this now from my bed as it pours rain outside so unfortunately I think the sky dive is cancelled 😦

Change of Plans

“Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.”
― Allen Saunders

I arrived in the Gold Coast yesterday or maybe it was Miami…I really can’t tell the difference! Don’t get me wrong, Miami is great, just not what I’m looking for on this trip. A few people in Bondi warned me of this, but the flight was booked and I am the type of person to come to a conclusion on my own. I also didn’t really love my was very different from my last one. Skewed younger, not as nice, and I didn’t get a super friendly vibe. To top it off, I chose Surfers Paradise to surf, but the winds were too strong and coast guard wasn’t allowing it. For those keeping track, that is still 0 waves I’ve caught.

I bailed. For as much planning as I did for this trip, I knew there would be moments like these. The best thing you can do is not get upset about it and make your next move. So, where to? Cairns. Why? I love diving, I feel at peace under water and the Great Barrier Reef is the largest living thing on earth… for now… it’s slowly dying and who knows what there will be to see in a few years from now. Global warming is real people! So do your part to leave a smaller footprint: consume less, recycle, walk more, etc.. PSA over. I also love rainforests. Reasons enough that Cairns was the place. I booked a new hostel and a flight for the next day.

In the meantime since I didn’t feel like shopping, gambling or getting exfoliated by a wind storm on the beach, I did some swiping (you know, getting to know the local culture). I met up with a guy for a beer near the beach. He was from Burleigh which I’ve heard from others is a cool spot. He explained Surfer’s Paradise perfectly: you never hear of locals in Las Vegas going to the strip. The same with Surfers Paradise, it’s a great tourist spot and maybe good for an occasional night out, but you don’t hang out there often if you’re from the Gold Coast. We had good conversation, but eventually, I had to dip out to catch my flight.

Landed! Took a short 10 minute ride to hostel and immediately I like the vibe better. It’s funny how quickly you can get a feeling about a place. I’m staying at Mad Monkey.. don’t judge a name… says the girl who’s name is spelled like a beer. The check-in staff were extremely friendly, the facilities are great (super nice and great social areas), unheard of amenities (such as free breakfast, a gym, a real A/C unit and a free towel!!! Good because I needed to wash mine), and the best part…..I have my own room. Sure, I’ll sacrifice meeting instant new friends, but I’m not worried about it at this place. What I get in return is: all 4 outlets to myself, freedom to leave things out, a place to write without people wondering why you came to Australia to sit on your laptop, and no one dropping a cellphone from the top bunk onto your bottom bunk in the middle of the night (yes this happened). Oh and this room happens to have a queen bed. I’m currently making myself into a large X and taking up as much space as possible.

In summary, I’m happy with the change of plans, and I think I’ll be even more happy when I’m bumping elbows with the fish on the GBR tomorrow 😉