Monday, July 26, 2010

Oz 3 - The Great Barrier Reef

Cairns was great. So great we paid for it twice. We got caught in the 1800 hotels debacle and on arrival at our supposedly booked and paid for hotel discovered that the hotel didn’t even have a contract with them. It was a poor start and I felt close to tears as I had been the one who booked it and paid IN FULL on Laser card. I know. I know. Fools and their money etc.

However, we were in the lucky position of having credit cards that weren’t fully maxed out and decided to put the whole incident behind us until we got home. The heat in Cairns was very welcome after the cold dampness of Sydney. One day one we rambled around and found our bearings. Or rather Jemser and son#2 found their bearings, myself and son #1 don’t have to bother with bearings when those two are about. We just follow them as they argue over which route is shortest.

Day two Jemser and son#1 went to a crocodile farm and arrived back with tall tales of ferocious beasts. Son #2 and I rambled down to the lagoon and I sat enjoying the sun as he swam in the water with people from all around the world. That is the one thing about Australia that I really noticed, it appears to be an even bigger melting pot than the States.

Day three was our Great Barrier Reef day. We were on the boat at 8am, the weather was great - the sea calm,the blueness of the sky dotted with white cumulus like tufts of cotton wool idling along and higher again were thin feathers of cirrus. We headed out to sea, standing on deck. The scene was set.

Oh lads! I am at a loss for words. I have never ever experienced anything like the coral reef. We went in snorkelling and I had to keep lifting my head to spit our sea water as everytime I put my head down I started to laugh with delight at this world that was new to me and of course filled the mouthpiece with water. Photographs and television programmes cannot do it justice. It felt like it was something from which we came, or perhaps are returning to. I don’t know, other-worldly I suppose is the best word.

The boys were totally wowed by it , son#1 said it had been worth the boredom of being stuck with us aged P.’s for over a fortnight. Son #2 came up with word after word after word to try to describe it. Jemser doesn’t swim and unfortunately despite lifejacket and strong swimmers about him he didn’t succeed in getting in. However he went out in a glass-bottomed boat and got a good ides of what the rest of us were experiencing.

We were all exhausted after it, I used muscles I never knew I had and after four hours at two different snorkelling sites was well ready for home. Those of you who have read Colm Toibin’s ‘Brooklyn’ will remember the visceral description of sea-sickness in it. I can now vouch for Mr Toibin’s description. I have never ever been as sick – and this bloody idiot of an entertainer on the return trip insisted on drawing the attention of everybody on the boat to my predicament by dedicating songs to me as my face was buried in a paper bag. I wanted to murder him and feed him to the sharks. Except I was far too ill to even move. But the Reef was worth it. Yes, definitely the Reef was worth

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