Saturday, October 8, 2011

DAY ???

So confused, not sure what day it is. They have strange times here, drive on the right side of the road and also the wrong side of the bus, so how can I keep up? When I say “excuse me, can you tell me…” they say, “No worries, mate!” and offer you that wonderful helpful smile. Yesterday was kind of a lazy day, just what the doctor ordered. Our tour for the day was to be a trip on 4-wheel-drive jeeps around the island, while the forest ranger showed us and told us the history of the island; its wildlife and dangers. When we checked in at the desk they did indeed tell us the tour was cancelled as all roads were closed, and those that were open, were for fire personnel only.

We had a small little bungalow, with a beautiful pond at our front patio. The birds swooped in and out of our view as they chased one another in this beautiful setting. We sat on our patio and drank one for the folks back home. Our walkway was a wooden path, elevated about three feet off the ground, which we imagined was to keep the fierce Dingos, deadly spiders and creepy crawlies from taking a nibble or two from our epidermis.

Ginger and I decided to “have a walk” as they say here, and headed for the beach. The boardwalk from the resort was a winding, tree-covered maze with assorted low-hanging vines, trees of incredible beauty we’d never seen before, and also home to many cranky poisonous snakes. We walked a little faster with eyes skyward. We found our way to the jetty, which led us to a beautiful white sandy beach, where we did the normal touristy thing and took pictures, all the while watching for the infamous Dingos. Beautiful! I can imagine the excitement the Aborigines felt after sailing from wherever (no one is sure where they came from, other than it was about 4000 years ago). Just seeing the beautiful island after years at sea, and being able to come ashore, must have been a dream. As Bill Bryson says in his book: “A Sunburned Country,” it was NOT Cook who discovered Australia, but rather the Aborigines, long before Cook ever pulled on his big-boy pantaloons.

The rest of the day we spent strolling through coffee shops, eating every goody in sight, tourist shops, and learning about the wildlife. At 7 p.m. we joined in a ranger’s talk about the Dingo. I raised my hand. “I’m a little worried when we walk the beach or the long wood path to our cabin. What do we do if we encounter a Dingo?” The ranger chuckled. “No worries,” she said, “we have a high fence around the whole camp; they can’t get into the resort.” Well fine! The bus driver really got us. But she did say we might encounter them on the beach. She told us the Dingo was brought here hundreds of years ago by explorers from Asia. They run and attack in packs. Rather than charge their prey, like a Wallaby for example, they wait until the animal is on the beach scrounging for food, then walk toward their prey until it backs into the ocean and drowns. When the carcass comes ashore with the tide, the Dingos “have a go at it.”

We inadvertently sat in on a bird talk, of all things. Actually, we were about to walk out of the room after the Dingo talk, when the ranger immediately put the bird video on the screen. Not wanting to appear rude we sat still (well sort of, Ginger’s head did much bobbing). But after 800 species fluttering, squawking, and eating worms, I decided it was time to go. Plus, Ginger had fallen asleep with her head on her chest, and someone in the back mistook it for a bird call.

We are taking the ferry back to the mainland today, and will be dropped at the airport and fly to Cairns; hopefully without any skin missing.

The next morning we were bussed back to the Cairns airport. We entered the airport, hauling two gigantic bags apiece, and stopped dead in our tracks. There were no check in counters, no agents that we could see, nothing but fat little check-in machines six inches on center. Everywhere we looked they stood like little Martians awaiting to fly off. I was afraid if I slipped something in the slot it would take a bite! I frantically looked around, found an agent behind a post, earnestly looking busy. It was more like a pillar which was holding up the roof, complete with a flip-up desk and a computer underneath. I looked pathetic and begged her to help us. We had a 2:15 p.m. flight and it was now 2:05. She gracefully agreed to help us; otherwise we’d still be in the airport. The machines are incredible. I’m surprised the US doesn’t have them. First you have to check in, either by typing in your name or passport. When it recognizes you, it spits out your boarding pass. Then you must run to another funny-looking machine, a bigger Martian, and slide your boarding pass into its open yaw. The machine asks you how many bags you have, you answer, then it says: weight please, at which time you grunt and slide your luggage onto its base tray. If you are overweight, you are taken to jail…just kidding, but if you are overweight, you must either lighten the load, or find another suitcase, or pay $9 billion dollars. After going through all this, we ran like idiots to the security area, where we were in line for another ten minutes. I guess no one cared if we missed our plane. We had no hotel, had no idea where we were, but as luck would have it, our plane was delayed AGAIN. But this time to our advantage.

WERE OFF TO CAIRNS: Or as we were told: pronounce the city as ... Canns-as in soda cans; Cahn, as in James Cahn; Cains as in Cains and Abel. Also, another fact we learned: do not pronounce “Aussies” with an “S.” it’s “Auzzies” with a “Z.” If you pronounce it with an “S” you’ve immediately branded yourself as a feraner! “Please pronounce it with a “Z” it’s much more friendly!” Okay mate, no worries, there!

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