Friday, July 08, 2011

Day Six: Cairns

Today was, um, interesting. There were great parts and not-so-great.

We lazed around a bit in the morning, which was really nice, and then took the blue bus that stops next to the hotel into Cairns. Silly me, I thought it was free, and non-stop--no, it was a regular city bus and took a freakin' hour to get there. I was crabby by the time we started seeing all the signs for internet cafes and fish and chips. As David put it, Cairns is a town, not a city. It's busy, and full of stuff, but it's all tourism stuff, as far as we could tell. From the gift-shop choked bus station we walked to the Esplanade, since I'd heard that was on the water. Well, yeah, sort of. There isn't a real beach, just a smelly mud flat covered in broken bottles. A big lawn contained a giant pool with many depths, filled with people, and an artificial white-sand beach around the edges. Jarrah was mighty annoyed that I hadn't brought her bathing suit.

Speaking of Jarrah, she cried most of the way there, I mean actually sobbed, for the loss of Christmas, her tiny koala, somewhere in Kuranda yesterday. We made a valiant effort to recover him, with searches and phone calls, but no luck. She kept saying "But I love him! Somewhere he is missing me!" and--fabulously--"I'll never eat again until I find Christmas!" David parried with "Not even dessert?" Small silence. "Okay." I actually started feeling terrible that we weren't working harder to find that thing. But she cheered slightly when we found Christmas's cousin in Cairns for 2 dollars amongst about 3,000 others.

We had one of these meals I'm getting familiar with in this region where you order something really small and simple and it takes an hour to get it. I guess people are just really, really relaxed and don't go to restaurants hungry, because no one complains. Then we strolled along the Esplanade, trying to be enthused. It was actually quite hot out. I have a feeling we would have enjoyed the kitschiness if we hadn't just sailed over the primeval rainforest in a glass cabin yesterday.

One five-dollar scoop of ice cream each and I was ready for the bus, after a brief detour at a pedestrian mall park where Jarrah quickly commandeered the locals for some sort of war game. The ride home was almost as long--not quite.

J and I headed straight for the beach when we got off the bus, and ended up befriending a family from Sydney--Tim, Nancy and daughters Misha and Milla. They were all very sweet and we played dinosaur for a while.

I persuaded J to have a disco nap before our Night Zoo excursion, so we didn't have a repeat performance of two nights ago when she systematically threw everything she owns at my head just because I wanted her to brush her teeth. She was willing to nap, but pretty groggy afterwards,which didn't seem weird. Our ride to the zoo was only ten minutes, and who should open the door for us at our destination but...SUSANNA! I was soooo excited, for me as well as for Jarrah, and genuinely surprised. But Jarrah was strangely remote and distracted, so unlike her, and she'd been talking about Susanna all day. She said her tummy hurt. I said she was just hungry. She looked really worried and asked me to walk her to the bathroom. Just as we arrived she threw up all over the place. Well...that was a surprise. The kid has thrown up only twice since I've known her. I was scared. She threw up again. I helped her clean up--amazing that her clothes didn't get it. And then, Dear Readers, she was fine. I mean, eat dinner, run around screaming, dance and play instruments with the band fine. The kid amazes me.

Night Zoo was celebratory. We were reunited with our friends and ate a big barbecue dinner at a table for eight while listening to singing and guitar. Then we had a chance to hug a koala for a photo. I demurred, since someone said "it had a wet bottom" and that made me feel a bit sick. Then we were offered "torches" and taken on a very dark and slightly spooky tour of the zoo, starting with a little theater presentation, where we met a super-cute bandicoot and a Cane Toad (!) and told we could help the government by gathering these toads in the street, putting them in a plastic bag and leaving them in our hotel freezer. They have a rather cheeky sense of humor here in Queensland...or maybe they don't?

We met a giant snake and some crocs (learning the difference between "salties" and "freshies"--the difference is a whole lot of poundage) and actually saw some koalas descend from their trees and scamper around on the ground at a brisk clip. You don't get that in San Diego. Eventually, we reached a clearing completely filled with kangaroos that were happy to be cuddled and a "swaggie" served us damper and billy tea. I wasn't clear about all that, but later I did some square-dancing with the swaggie.

Around this time David started saying he felt sick, too. I confess I didn't really believe him--he tends to get sympathetic sickness in his brain when either Jarrah or I is unwell. But he looked rather pained for the rest of the evening, and I was sad he couldn't fully enjoy what turned out to be rather fun. We finished things off in an outdoor theater where we were offered yet more booze and food and a chance to grab a bunch of instruments and play along with the singer-guitar guy--Jarrah and Susanna were into that.
Then there was the aforementioned Australian square-dancing, and of course I couldn't resist that.

When we got home, I figured we'd all be sleepy and straight to bed for our early-morning start to the Reef. I hadn't counted on David puking--a lot--as soon as we got back. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And just how does one "play dinosaur" not to mention "for awhile"?

Details, please!