Friday, March 28, 2014

Underwater ATM

Diving the world-famous Great Barrier Reef was the one thing I had to do before leaving Australia, so we made sure it was the first thing we did on our week long adventure here in Queensland!

After arriving in Cairns late last night (and being greeted by humidity that was like a slap to the face) Ben and I made our way to our hostel and went straight to bed so we could get up early for the three dives we had booked for the following day.

Our boat was pulling away from the dock by 8AM the next morning, with (much to my dismay) tropical rain pelting down at us in full force. But our skipper (who was an absolute dead ringer for Paul Rudd in Forgetting Sarah Marshall) assured us he would get us away from the coast and out of the rain. An hour or so later the sun was shining so bright that you would never have known it had been raining when we left. 

Now I hadn't done a dive in six months, so I was kinda nervous. (It actually took me three tries to get my wetsuit on properly, so... maybe a bit more than kinda.) But knowing that Ben would be my dive buddy made me feel a million times better. 

The first dive is a bit of a blur. It was mostly just a good chance for me to get re-acquainted with the sensations that coming along with diving: the feeling of being weightless, of being so far below sea level and of being able to hear nothing but the air flowing in and our of your regulator (a sound ressembling Darth Vader breathing).

After getting into the swing of things dutring the first dive, I enjoyed the next two immensely. To my surprise, the marine life on the Reef didn't 'wow' me quite like it had in Fiji (probably because I saw a turtle in Fiji, which is hard to top) but we got to swim through several incredible cave-like crevasses, which I had never done before. It was thrilling and exhilarating (if not slightly claustrophobic!) in a completely different way, and I loved every minute.

I feel so lucky to have been able to explore such a renowned and magical piece of the world, not to mention getting to share the experience with Ben. Plus, it reminded me how much I bloody love diving and that I want to make it more of a priority in my future travel plans!

Once we were on board we had to pay for our dives. I paid for both of us on card, so Ben gave me cash for his share. This meant that I had about $500 on me, a sum of money I didn't feel comfortable leaving in my wallet onboard while I was in the water. Luckily, Australian notes are waterproof, so Ben kept my wad of cash in his pocket for me while we dove (dived?) Diving with half a grand in your pocket seems slightly ridiculous in hindsight but there you have it, pretty much an underwater bank machine!

Giant clam

One of the 'caves'!

Nemo's all grown up!

The money was a bit soggy afterwards but still intact!

The most amazing rainbow I'd ever seen.. perfect end to a perfect day

Friday, March 7, 2014

Give and Take

Awesome as it is, traveling just ain't free. Plane tickets, food, sightseeing... sure it can be done on the cheap, but any the end of the day you need a bit of cash to make it happen. Which is where the whole work thing comes in.

Now I don't mean to complain; I know work is a part of life and everyone has to do it. But when you're working on the road (i.e. doing shorter stints at different jobs) you gotta take what you can get, and sometimes that means doing a job you just don't like. Which is the case for me in Manly.

I found work here in a cafe with relative ease but putting up with the job has at times been anything but. The owner (who is a complete loose cannon, due to the fact he did 'too many drugs in the 70s'... his words) hires and fires
people (without notice, obviously) like there's no tomorrow. One time I actually had to console a very distraught ex-employee as she stood crying in the carpark after being fired. 

In addition to playing therapist for former employees, I get paid on a different day each week (I've narrowed it down to anytime between Wednesday and Saturday) and I never know when I'll working one week to the next, which makes planning anything in advance rather impossible. It's not all bad but I definitely far from love my job. (I sure hope the coffee I make tastes less bitter than I sound...)

 That being said, I really do try and focus on the positives as much as I can, of which there are many: the cafe is a stone's throw away from the beach, I make decent money and most importantly, working there is allowing me to experience more of a foreign country while saving a bit of money in the process. Sure I would probably have a more 'fulfilling' job if I was living back in Vancouver but I also wouldn't be fulfilling my travel dreams. In the last couple months I've done some pretty incredible things: Rang in the new year at Sydney Harbour, explored the island of Tasmania and spent many a day off snorkeling at nearby beaches. If all goes to plan, I'll be finding Nemo somewhere in the Great Barrier Reef in a few weeks. These are things I would far less likely get the chance to do if I was in a more secure job back at home, and that's what I need to remember: Travel (and life, for that matter) is all about give and take.

New Years Eve fireworks at Sydney Harbour

Beautiful Wineglass Bay, Tasmania

Popular snorkeling spot in Manly

The Wharf

It's moments like this that make it worthwhile.