It was an early morning again as Andrew had to drive us to where the tour bus was going to collect us, a resort with real services. Breakfast here is substantial with four varieties of bread including English muffins, which I have not had in years, fresh fruit salad, yogurts, and cereals. Everyone is up and eating by 7:30, so we are able to chat with the other guests, making it amicable.
We waited only ten minutes for the shuttle to gather us up to bring us to the larger bus, but in the end, after we collect ed the others, it turned out the larger bus had already left. Our shuttle would now take us directly to the boat for our tour. About an hour later all of the others were gathered from various hotels.
The boat was a hovercraft with comfortable seating. Once underway, they served us coffee and cookies, gave a safety demonstration, and fitted people for snorkel suits. I have snorkeled in the past, but never had to wear a suit to do it. Ron and I both wore wet suits when we took scuba lessons, but never for snorkeling. This determined it would be a non-snorkeling day for me off of Frankland Island. I have this thing about claustrophobia. Having a mask over my face is torture, but I most of the time can rationalize my way through it. I think it goes back to a trauma as a child when I had my tonsils out and they put the mask over my face for the gas. I remember pleading with the doctor to just let me take one more breath before we continued, but he refused to remove the mask. Ever since then, I have had nightmares about drowning or being suffocated. With a suit on and the flippers, I feel really confined, closed in, and definitely claustrophobic. That is why I never finished getting certified in SCUBA, but another reason is that the limitations of peripheral perception makes me paranoid to the point that I have anxiety attacks. It turns out the reason for the skins they wore is because jellyfish don’t like them. Well I don’t like the skins, I don’t like being near to jellyfish, I won’t snorkel. Case closed.
Ron lost his snorkeling virginity and I stayed on the beach. He had a great time, I did not have a bad time, but damn it was hot. The temperature hovered around 90 degrees, while the humidity was close to the same. Even in the shade, I sweat like a pig on a roasting pit. Taking off on my own down a trail, I did find the other side of the island’s weather was fantastic with a great breeze. I stayed there as long as I thought I could get away with without being missed and then headed back again in time for lunch. This island is also home to some of the worlds deadliest spiders, which did not exactly make me feel secure being alone, dying somewhere of a spider bite when no one knew I was gone. One spider is so venomous, its bite kills within three hours. There is no antidote.
The island has a protected roped off area where a variety of seabirds are nesting. We were told that we could go up to the ropes, but no further without a fine. However, if we disturbed the birds, they would fly at us to scare us away and we should move back, since making the birds agitated is also worthy of a fine. While I was on the other side, I was also on the other side of then roped off area, watching the birds coming and going. On the beach was a dark brown bird, a different species than any of the others nesting. The white cormorants did not care for this bird being so close to their area, so they started dive bombing it. Instead of the brown bird flying off, each time it was dive bombed, it just ducked. This went on about ten times before it finally flew off. It was hysterical to watch this aviary circus show.
After two hours of snorkeling, lunch was served. They put out quite a spread of roasted chicken, prawns, salads, and cold cuts. Beverages were for sale. Following lunch, we did the glass bottom boat adventure. It was like visiting the moon, visually disorienting with beautiful life forms we don’t normally know exist. The guide pointed out all of the different varieties of coral and the fish we were being voyeurs to. I was surprised that the colors were not as vibrant as seen in pictures. She explained that they would be brighter if the day were not overcast, but still not as vibrant as we would expect. She went on to say that when they film underwater, they use powerful spotlights for filming, so the light from there highlights the color more and the rest is done with Photoshop.
They had to run the glass bottom boat twice to accommodate all of us, so in the meanwhile, we just needed to hang sweating again, but those snorkelers were welcome to jump back into the water. When everyone was done, we had the option of doing an island walking tour so we joined in. Amanda our guide pointed out the different trees that are specific to this area. She fished out two sea cucumbers and had us hold them. They squirt water and then a white creamy substance that cements closed the gills of fish that are trying to eat them. With the glued gills, the fish suffocates and loses interest in the sea cucumber. We also came across a humongous golden orb spider. She said they can get as large as dinner plates and like black widows, eat their mates after mating.
The island is a protected reserve, which means there is no fishing, no cutting plants, and nothing, not the smallest piece of coral, nor any sand can be removed without a stiff penalty.
An hour ride on the boat and then 1 ½ hours on two buses, got us back to our ‘hotel’. The other guests came back wiped out also from their tour, so all five of us decided to order in, having it delivered. Andrew arranged the whole thing. After speaking to the others, two Argentinians and one Brit, it seems we made a wise decision. They had a longer boat ride that was not scenic and they had less time snorkeling. They also had to snorkel from the boat, there was no island to rest on in between dives, so they tired out long before the people in our group would have being able to come and go.
Tomorrow we want to see if there really is a city of Cairns or if there is just a grandiose number of suburbs. It will be tricky since the public transport in this area is feeble to say the least. We will have to stand on the side yard of someone’s property and flag the bus as it comes around the corner.
Earlier this evening, a frog made an appearance. Did a take on the situation and then decided he did not like our company and hopped off elsewhere. But as I write this, I am sitting at the large wooden table on the covered patio of the resort, watching the breeze sway the palm tree leaves. On the table there is a good sized marble block where the hosts put out the jams and jellies for breakfast. It sits on little legs, giving some room underneath. As I am typing, I am aware of a little face staring out at me. There is a tiny, tiny gecko poking his head out at me, it runs out for a quick fix of the situation, and then back it goes under the security of the marble. Arched high ceilings of the patio are covered with this little fella’s relatives. They are keeping the mosquito population down, but I wish they would eat faster, there are more than enough for everyone. We have to cover ourselves with repellent creating a second skin of lotion or we are bound to be a human buffet table for the flying creatures. All of us have a half dozen bites. The mosquitoes must have silencers on them. Not one of us has heard one yet. The only evidence they are around is when we have an itch and notice the swelling red lumps.
All of this is to be expected since this property butts up against a protected rain forest. There is literally a wire fence at the perimeter of the property in back to keep crocodiles out of their yard and pool.
After the day’s heat, it is refreshing to be able to come back and take a dip in the pool at any time day or night. Like the moss that grows on the sides of trees, I am beginning to lichen this place.