Thursday, 12 May 2011

Days 92, 93 and 94. Crazy and awesome stories of the Barrier Reef!

Location: Just outside Bowen, Whitsundays
Country: Aus
Day number: 94
Mood: Excited!

Hello everyone!

So, last time I left you, Cecile was about to leave us. Which meant I had to roll out of bed at 4 in the morning and drive us all to the airport to wave her goodbye. Sad to see her go, especially as we realised the next day we were planning on taking a route she could have come with us on. Frustrating.

That day we gathered around and decided what we wanted to do. Aya really wanted to go scuba diving on the great barrier reef, Jerome really wanted to go skydiving over the Whitsundays (600 km away), and I wanted to do both. Unfortunately, none of us could afford both. With me, it was a combination of knowing I could skydive anywhere but there was just the one Great Barrier Reef, and it being a lot cheaper than jumping from a plane, and a coin toss.

Anyway, Aya and I set off the next day on a cruise to the reef. We got a great deal from the place we were staying, called Nomads. Nomads is a chain of backpackers hostels around Australia, and the people we rented the van from have a deal with them so we can park the van there and use all the facilities for $5 a day. It means we can do the laundry, have hot showers, all that jazz for a nice price. As we set off, 3 girls sat down across from us. One of them was from the Netherlands, and the other two were French. Lena and Marie (the french), were new divers, but Amber (the Netherlandic (?) girl) was super qualified. Anyway, long story short (ish, I have to draw out the suspense somehow), Amber seemed familiar, but I wasn't sure where from.

We all went diving, with Lena and I being the only people not scared of diving enough to go more than once. I dived three times, and by the end of the day, the backs of my heels were ripped raw from the badly fitting fins. Really didn't care.

Aya and I decided to rent a digital camera so we could go under the water and take some pictures, which I now have here and still need to upload... I keep waiting until we get wifi so it doesn't use up our USB modem. It does mean the amount to upload keeps growing through... I digress. Back to the reef.

We had a lovely lunch, and all of the crew were knowledgeable and friendly; I was with an instructor called Daishi who was Japanese, and which meant he could have a nice long talk with Aya (which she enjoyed). He was great, and the guys on the boat realised I knew what I was doing to a degree, so really just let me get on with it while they attended to the tourists who were scared of the water.

On the way back, Amber looked across at me and said the following, which just about blew my mind.

"Andy, this might sound strange, but were you on a bus from Melbourne to Canberra back in February, where you helped a girl who had a ton of luggage with her? You helped pay for it?"

It turns out, Amber was on that bus. While I had gotten off at Canberra, she had continued to Sydney, flown to New Zealand, travelled, flown to Perth, flown to Cairns, and then met up with her french friends the next day to go on this cruise. She had only just arrived. As Jerome said, in a country as wide as Europe... what are the chances of that?! Crazy!

After that, it turned out Aya had been her dive partner (them being all certified-like) so I now need to send all the pictures Aya took of her to her. Another reason to get them uploaded I suppose.

Right, so, we returned to shore, bid the ladies farewell, and then headed back to the hostel. Jerome was there, and after some food and a hot shower, we started the long, long, long drive to Airlie Beach. Jeromes sky dive was the next day at 10:00, so we really did need to get there that night. Jerome drove until 10 pm, and then I took over.

I never want to do that again.

Aya and Jerome fell asleep as the clock ticked on, and it was just me, sipping energy drink and listening to music. The road was covered in road kill. Kangaroos and Rabbits... everywhere. The worst was the ones that were in pieces. They must clean up the highway in the mornings, because I have never seen so much before. I had to swerve to avoid 3 rabbits and a 'roo, and then I noticed them bouncing along at the side of the road, and groups of kangaroos at the side of the road. That freaked me out a bit. Or rather, put me on edge. As it got later, the shadows started to play tricks on me, and the bushes started to look like animals ready to jump onto the road.

I could continue describing it, but I won't. You get the picture. Needless to say, when I finally pulled into the car park at Airlie Beach at 2 am, I was shaking. Don't you just hate those idiots on the road who refuse to turn off their high beams when they approach you in the dark? It hurts!

Right, I'll leave you now. We spent today just relaxing in Airlie Beach while Jerome went sky diving, and I'm now typing this as usual from the front seat of the van, as we drive along the Bruce Highway back towards Townsville, watching the sun slowly sink below the horizon.

Good evening all.

Andy

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