I am very self-conscious of the fact that I have so much to say and I’m not sure how many people care enough to read it. I’ll try to make my blog entries as interesting as possible, but hello. I’m in ‘Strahya, of course it’s interesting. If you’re not interested in this stuff, then tell me what you’ve been up to that’s so much better ;)
Anyway, I’m going to try and pick up where I left off even though so much has happened. When we all got to the airport in Brisbane, we were hit with a blast of hot humid air. You know me, I thought it was fantastic. Anya would have hated it, but I was in heaven. And there are palm trees here! Who knew? Well, some of you knew. I didn’t. I loved being greeted by palms right off the plane.
The domestic terminal, however, was about a 7 min bus ride away. We had roughly 45 minutes until our flight to Cairns (pronounced “Cans” - very Bostonian of them) took off, and we were in a dreadfully long line to pass through customs. It took ages. I hate to report Mom, that they confiscated my unfinished trail mix because of the banana chips. I was sad because it was wonderful and banana chips are my favorite! I claimed on the form that I had food and that I had medicine (ibuprofen), so they had to search through my bags, but it wasn’t too bad. Nat however, neglected to claim anything. I’m not sure why, but she was found to have one left over clementine and she narrowly escaped a $250 fine. The customs man was very angry. She handled it well though. It was kind of humorous because it was a total accident. She meant to finish them all on the plane.
So after spending far too much time in the customs line and dealing with the clementine incident, we had to seriously book it to the check in for the domestic flights. We were sprinting with so many bags, and the people in the line at check in let us cut in front of them. I’m going to dedicate an entry soon to how ridiculously nice Aussies are and how Americans could learn a thing or two (or millions in my opinion) from them. So after we checked our bags, we hopped on the bus to the domestic terminal where they were holding our plane, thank goodness.
After three flights totaling over a day, we were there. We were met by our AustraLearn leaders at Cairns airport and loaded the coach buses to Bohemia Resort. Don’t be fooled by “Resort” - it’s a hostel. Nicest hostel I’ve ever been in though. Six people to a room, a gorgeous patio area and pool with a bar and plenty of picnic tables, but there are two showers to every forty people or so. It’s nuts. The rooms are separated alphabetically, so unfortunately Nat’s not in my room, but we’re meeting some awesome people! Some of our peers, American college students, are extremely wild, but Nat and I are surrounding ourselves with some pretty solid people. We met some girls from Azusa Pacific (a college in Gordon’s consortium) and a great Christian girl from Illinois. We’re having a blast with them. Some good clean fun :) Right now we’re all blogging and watching The Illusionist while our peers are at a pub crawl.
So now I’ll elaborate on orientation. We are separated into two groups, Blue and Green, which was also done alphabetically. The first day, the Green group when to an area called Kurunda to a place called RainForeStation. Clever. We drove two coach buses up a very very windy mountain all the way to the top - I got a bit car sick, but it was beautiful. When we unloaded we separated into three groups and moved around to different stations. Molly (from Azusa) and I were in a group that started with aboriginal activities. We watched an aboriginal play a didgeridoo, which is a huge flute-like instrument with a deep vibrating tone to it. He explained to us how it works and let a few of us try it. It was so hard to do! I couldn’t get a sound out, it’s not like a saxophone. The we had a lesson in throwing a boomerang. It was awesome to see and cool to try, but that’s not my calling, haha. It’s no softball :) Then walking to the next activity, I tasted a green ant. The third segment of their ant body is big and lime green. When touched to your tongue, it tastes like a sour warhead. It was tasty!
From there we went to watch an aboriginal dance routine. It was crazy, but so interesting. A little bit like the New Zealand rugby players in the movie Invictus, but in nothing by a loin cloth and body paint. And they didn’t yell with their tongues out. It wasn’t scary at all, just culturally unique. Then we went on a rainforest tour. We drove through a path on the rainforest in a Boston duck tours boat - same concept :) They called them duck boats too! I felt very much at home. I found myself wanting to quack at passersby, but that’s much more acceptable in Boston. We saw tons of beautiful plants and huge huge trees. No flowers though, mostly very large trees. I took some pictures, but honestly, everything was too big to catch on camera. I took a video when our vehicle emerged into a lagoon. The water was very swampy and gross, but authentically rainforest-y :)
Then after a delicious buffet lunch of east asian cuisine, it was finally animal time. We started off right by each having our picture taken with a koala. He was a baby and we only got to hold him for literally 5 seconds before he was passed to the next person, but he was so adorable. I feel bad for the bloke though, being passed around like that. He was so out of it. Then we saw a wombat, a koala with a joey, a koala with a joey still in his pouch not due for a few more weeks, crocs, enormous spiders, and more. The crocs were so huge. One of them had to be over 12 feet long and he was chilling under water. Just absolutely massive. I don’t know how Steve Erwin made it for all those years.
Then we saw monitor lizards. Tony, two words: Gila monster. These bad boys were massive. Feel free to google it, the natives call them goannas. They are in the family of the kimono dragon and they mean business. They can grow to over 6 feet long and these suckers can move. Never underestimate the belly-dwellers, they can haul it when provoked. One of our leaders, Jay, (Nat and I love our leaders. We have so much more in common with them then with our peers here. We chill with them a lot) said that he had an ex girlfriend who took a swipe to the face with a goanna tail and was knocked out. How lovely.
But enough of the drugged up, the vicious, and the creepy-crawly, I’ll move on to only the greatest creatures that God has placed on this earth besides humans - maybe tied with humans: Kangaroos and wallabies. Man oh man everyone, these animals are just fantastic. After we walked through the rest of the exhibit, it opened up into a backyard where kangaroos and wallabies were hopping about everywhere! I’ve never seen anything like it! Some were lounging on their sides like cats and dogs, some were going ballistic, all “hopped up”. But they were a riot. You’ll never see anything move like this. I was so giggly and I couldn’t stop! They made me so happy. And they had no qualms with humans if you moved slow. Very much the “Australian way” - just chillin’, no worries. I walked up, pet them, fed them, bounced with them - it was such a hoot. I would own a wallaby if I could. They’re like kangaroos, only smaller and with different coloring. Some of these kangaroos were huge though. You just know that if you were on the receiving end of their kick, you’d be done for. But they were such loves :) Undoubtedly my favorite part.
Then I saw a dingo (they are nearly extinct actually, no longer eating anyone’s babies) and allowed a 6 foot long snake to snuggle up around my neck. Feeling a heavy, scaly, muscly snake body around my face was certainly an experience. He wasn’t bad ;)
And that was about it for the Green group’s rainforest day. That night, Nat and I got sushi, read and journaled for a while and hit the sack around 11ish. I’m going to call it quits for tonight because I doubt very many of you (beside my parents :D ) have made it all the way to the end of this entry. Here’s what’s in store for entries to come…
• Day off - Nat and I went for a hike and encountered tons of wildlife on our own. Real Croc Hunter material, you don’t wanna miss this.
• Community service day - worked on the cassowary sanctuary. A huge ostrich-like bird known for being vicious and deadly. Sounds like my cup of tea right? And koala poop, turned worm pooped, turned perfect rainforest fertilizer. Sifting through that fertilizer to relocate those busy worms, and planting trees in the rainforest!
• And tomorrow… Green group's turn at the Great Barrier Reef! I’ll snorkel, I’ll scuba, and my life will never be the same again. Guaranteed.
Thanks for reading if you made it this far. You’re a real trooper. Love you.