6 April, 2015 – Arrival in Cairns (“Cans”)
Another big change, from the desert to the tropics; a wave of humidity engulfed me as I departed the plane in the early evening. There’s not much public transportation, so I took a taxi to the city centre. I’m staying in a nice small apartment booked through Airbnb. Easter Monday is a holiday here, so I’ll have to wait until morning to pick up a few items at the supermarket, conveniently located across the street.
7 April – Cairns 24 Hour Medical Center
I spent most of today walking slowly back and forth between my apartment, the medical clinic, and radiology to have my foot examined. Sadly, no more hiking for this trip. The theory is that something dropped on my foot a couple months ago, perhaps a can in the kitchen, and didn’t realize that I injured because it stopped hurting quickly. Hiking aggravated whatever it is, perhaps a stress fracture. Doctors orders: minimize walking, no more than a kilometer at a time on a flat surface, for at least two to three weeks. Looks like I won’t be hiking in the Blue Mountains. The good news is that swimming should be fine.
I saw virtually nothing in Cairns, only a couple noisy trees, one full of bats, the other colorful birds, and a large swimming lagoon near the ocean.
8-9 April – Coral Sea
Aah, to be under the water again, admiring the coral and fishes. I enjoyed living barefoot for two days. Gentle rocking of the boat, soft humid breezes, this is the life!
I completed six dives in two days. A fast, crowded boat took us out to the reef and on a couple dives, and then we transferred to a nicer liveaboard boat. My cabin, which I shared with a young woman from Holland, was spacious and comfortable with it’s own bath. I could have easily spent more time aboard.
Fortunately swimming is easier than walking for my foot, though I flipped more with one than the other. I hadn’t been diving for many years, so I signed up for a couple beginner dives. Had I realized that my certification is good for life, I would have taken a refresher course ahead of time and been able to dive without holding someone’s hand. Instead, I choose to snorkel most of the time. On the second day the current was strong enough that we had to swim continuously to keep from drifting back to the boat.
I brought a waterproof housing for my small camera and had fun trying to take pictures of the fish; it’s a challenge to photograph small moving objects while bobbing around in the water. The coral was more damaged than I anticipated, at least in the sections we visited. The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef in the world, covering about 350,000 square kilometers, so I certainly didn’t see it all. Some portions looked like underwater gardens, so if we stop polluting our oceans, maybe it can recover.
I was tired when we got back to Cairns, and my body still felt as if it was rolling with the waves when I went to bed.