Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Living at the Reef

Ok so Cairns isn’t actually the Great Barrier Reef but it’s close as I could get without living on a boat or tiny island. As well as loving living so close to the reef I was working in housekeeping and reception at the hostel whilst enjoying the company of my friends old and new during my time off. In fact my Broome friend and I even went on a snorkelling trip together.

As lone travellers we were both used to going on trips by ourselves so we wanted to take advantage of each others company to do a trip with a friend for a change! We had both been out to the reef separately but both wanted to go back so a backpacker budget boat trip seemed the ideal way to end my friends time not just in Cairns but in Australia. We had a great day, even if we did sleep rather a lot on the boat and both managed to burn out bums. Not content with snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef and taking many photos with our hired underwater camera we made a proper day of it. We finished the day with a glass of wine at a local bar before heading in to the city for a forty minute massage at the night markets and a burger at my favourite Aussie burger chain, Grill’d; a place where the food and service is ten times better than MacDonald’s or Burger King/Hungry Jacks any day of the week. It was a great day even if it was a little sad as my friend had recently applied for and been granted her New Zealand working holiday visa and would be flying over there in the next few days.

Before she left my Broome friend had a surprise for me. She gave me a thank you/early birthday present in the form of a pair of platypus earrings. I had been happy to help her out with some visa stuff. Since I had already completed the process myself it was easy to get her through the online process quickly, especially as she only wanted the one year visa however I was delighted with my present and really appreciated the thought as well as the funky earrings themselves. I was definitely sad to see my Broome friend go but she left me with some good company. I was getting on well with my co-workers and spending time out of work with them, so much time in fact that I seriously neglected my TEFL course and my blog. After all when you have a friend who isn’t just willing but eager to go on walks along the sea front and to the botanical gardens what can one do but get out there and enjoy the city?

It wasn’t just my new friends distracting me from the more mundane things in life it was also the Great Barrier Reef. I decided to splash out and buy myself an overnight diving trip for my birthday but apparently I couldn’t wait until then as the week before I was due to head out I booked a last minute trip out to Green Island on one of my days off. I was fortunate to get one of the last places on the Ocean Free sail boat which put more emphasis on getting there and back in style as opposed to the other boat I was considering which was more about getting there quickly. I am so glad I choose the trip I did as I had forgotten until I got to Green Island that I don’t actually like the beach that much. Don’t get me wrong Green Island is beautiful and I loved walking through the trees glimpsing the sea occasionally until got to the end of the path then there was this beautiful beach framed by lush forest panorama in front of me.  Green Island is a resort so it has great facilities as well as a crocodile/koala park but none of this could hold my attention for too long. See as well as being a great way to get out to Green Island Ocean Free will take you on a dive. Yes, I know the point of Green Island is that you can walk in to the coral and snorkel but further out by the boat the coral was in much better condition and the chance of a dive was just too much for me. Not only did I get to dive but I was able to borrow the guide’s camera and have a bit of one-on-one tuition as he gave me some tips to improve my diving. It was a pretty sweet day off and made all my hours housekeeping more than worth the while.

Not content with my impromptu diving trip on my return I managed a quick shower before a friend and I were off to the cinema to see Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Quite by chance my day off happened to fall on Valentine ’s Day, usually I’m not fussed either way about the day but in this occasion I was glad since it meant I got to see this classic film on the big screen and share it with my newest young friend. I hadn’t seen it in years and it was very different watching it in my thirties than it had been seeing it in my twenties. In fact I asked my friend to try and re-watch it in ten years time as I had since it made such a massive difference to how I saw the story and the characters. Let’s just say I was a lot more sympathetic to Holly this time round.

It was yet another fabulous day off and more than enough to keep me going through my next six days at work. Usually I worked two or three days with my days off split up but I had swapped some shifts so I could work right though to have a day and a half off together. I even organised things so I could work on my birthday, all so I could finally get back to the outer reef for two days and one night of serious diving. 

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