I have created this blog with the hopes that you, my friend, will follow me as I sail around the world (figuratively or literally, not sure yet) with my parents on their Contest 48. Whereas I hope to keep you updated with exciting adventures of exotic ports and epic waves, keep in mind that cruising - that is, traveling by boat in a leisurely fashion - tends to be filled with days of intense boredom, punctuated by moments of sheer terror. Please keep this in mind as you read these entries, for this platform will be just as much an attempt for me to maintain my sanity (and connection to the California-based world), as entertainment and reassurance for you. And so, follow me as I sail the world.

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Cairns (Cans)

You have not fully experienced Australia until you have fed a wallaby.

I fully intended to post this while I still had internet but alas, we have gone too far out in the cuts and so my disjointed, rambling thoughts will have to suffice. Sorry.

Pre.S. "Cairns" is pronounced "Cans" as Aussies speak very nasally and refuse to pronounce the letter R.

I consider myself lucky that I made it out of Cairns alive. Yes, two weeks in Cairns nearly killed me. To be completely honest I didn't really even like the town the first few days I was there, but after meeting a few cool people, going on a few cool adventures and taking advantage of the "5 drinks for $10" at the dirty backpacker bars, Cairns grew on me -- to the point where I had to peel myself off the (dance) floor in order to get on the boat before we left port Friday morning.

Cairns is a funny place. It is absolutely filled with backpackers. But there really isn't much to do in Cairns. Anything you would want to do around here is actually outside the town -- but people stop through on their way to dive the Great Barrier Reef, visit the Daintree rainforest or, if you are an unlucky backpacker, get stuck for months (or even years) because you are not able to fight the lure of the lazy, tropical town turned madhouse every night of the week. To be fair, there is plenty to do in Cairns, but most of it involves drinking. However, if you like playing the ukulele I would highly recommend going to the Crown Hotel, where on a Friday night you can find thirty or so people all jamming on ukuleles. I joined them last Friday and had a blast. There is always good live music going on somewhere in town. (Note: our music wasn't exactly "good" but it was fun.)

The best part about arriving in Cairns was being reunited with Mark, whom I had not seen since he left me in Mooloolaba many moons ago. It was great to see him again and although we did not manage to dive together, it was great to hang out and catch up over (many) beers. The Couch Surfing community is pretty big in Cairns, and Mark and I went to the "weekly meeting" -- a good excuse to go for a drink on a Tuesday. I ended up meeting a bunch of cool people who I palled around with until a few hours before I left yesterday. One of the guys I made friends with, Allan, organized a fishing trip one day and although I did not catch one fish -- not even a bite! -- it was still a good time. After spending a few weeks feeling rather isolated on the boat with Mom and Dad it was nice to feel like I had a group of friends again. Sometimes when one is sailing off in far flung places they forget that there are people who still love and care about them... but I digress.

After fishing we all planned to go on an inland adventure the next day. The next morning ten of us showed up to go for a hike and a swim somewhere an hours drive away. I thought I was going to die as a very nice German girl raced her boyfriend's SUV through the windy mountain roads while choosing music on her iPod. I offered/demanded to play DJ and I am convinced we survived because of that. Nevertheless, we arrived at Granite Gorge an hour later. Allan got us into the park for a 'group rate' which included food to feed the wallabies. Do you know what a wallaby is? I didn't. A wallaby is a mini kangaroo (I think -- at least that is what they look like). They are very cute little animals that bound up to you with big eyes and batting their eyelashes, expecting you to feed them. Although 'wild' they have no qualms about eating right out of the palm of your hand. This is all very good but they are also mangy marsupials and well, lets just say that the stuffed ones are cuter. The wallabies were fun, the hike was short, the picnic was awesome and the swim in the murky river was great although I am sure there were crocodiles lurking in the shadows.

Couchsurfers -- Unite!

There are crocodiles everywhere around Cairns, in fact the beach in town is closed for swimming due to crocs and stingers and all sorts of other nasty things that can kill you. Instead of going to the beach, everybody in Cairns goes to the man-made saltwater lagoon all day to recover from their hangovers. I came to call it "Hangover Lagoon" (clever, I know) because inevitably you couldn't help but overhear 'how wasted I got last night' among other things. You see, my theory is that one reason people party so hard in Cairns, one reason people get so loose and wild is because it is such a transient place. It is filled with backpackers and most don't stay long, giving a kind of anonymity -- not to mention that scandalous behavior is encouraged in certain bars -- especially by cute girls. It is not rare to find a group of people running around the bars togas, another few in gorilla suits, half naked girls and half naked guys... all on a Wednesday night.

Cairns is just that kind of place. I consider myself lucky that I escaped Friday morning, especially because Thursday night I had a last hurrah with all my mates. We started with a BBQ at the lagoon before going bar hopping. I vaguely remember something to the effect of Jello shots and dancing on tables by the end of the night, but that all could have been a dream, too. Of course my hangover Friday morning would indicate otherwise, and as yesterday was our first day out to sea in a while, I was completely miserable with a seasick hangover -- the worst combination ever.

Alas, that is Cairns in a nutshell. We are now tucked safely away at Lizard Island, which reminds me a lot of the Whitsundays, except a lot better. My detox is going well (or at least was until tonight) but I will elaborate on all of that in further posts. Cheers!
At 6/11/2013 3:17 AM (utc) Rutea's position was 14°39.60'S 145°27.08'E

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