- Wednesday, September 11, 2002

The small city of Cairns, Australia marked September 11th with a memorial this morning in the local park. Unfortunately, we misread the flyer and thought it was this evening. Bummer!! It's a bit weird being out of the country on this anniversary. Would the 9/11 anniversary be a same-as-usual day at home? I have a feeling that the newspapers and TV stations would provide continuous coverage of the memorial events taking place throughout the country, thus ensuring this is a day no one can forget. Being in Australia, we feel quite a bit removed, aren't near a TV, and are feeling a bit homesick. We know...it's only been a few weeks since we left!!

What a relaxing few days we've had. We booked a 4 day/3 night tour to Cape Tribulation/Daintree Rainforest to recuperate from 9 days of working on the farm for 5 hours a day (pretty long day after being out of work for 6 months!). Check out this link to see why we chose to spend time here: http://eis.net.au/~nqtds/fnq/2ptb04.html

The bus, driven by a man looking very much like Santa Claus, picked us up at our hostel early Saturday morning for the 2 hour drive up to the Cape. Santa talked non-stop the entire trip. Much of the information was very useful and interesting, but we were very happy to exit the bus for our first stop at the Mossman Aboriginal Center. An aboriginal healer/guide took us for a 30 minute informational walk through the rainforest and sacred Aboriginal lands. We learned about many of the trees, plants, and berries used for food, medicine, and building purposes. Our guide also demostrated his skills as a "healer" by demonstrating his ability to read auras and channel personal energy to diagnose health problems. It was REALLY COOL!!!

Our next stop was at a hostel called Crocodylus was set in the middle of the rainforest. LITERALLY! The canvas/netted huts aimed to keep the rain out. The mosquito netting tucked into our mattress did its job in keeping the other critters of the jungle away - spiders, snakes, small mammals and mozzies (Aussie lingo for mosquitos). The rain began just after the generators were turned off at midnight, providing us with a symphony of jungle noises throughout the night. Apparently the best time to go for a hike in the jungle is at night after a rain, as all the creatures come out in full force to chat it up.

The next morning we awoke not very well rested but happy not having been attacked by bugs. We spent a few hours hanging out on the property which boasted a 3km self-guided walk through the jungle and a large, very cool common area with games, music, bar, food service, etc.. Check it out: http://www.crocodyluscapetrib.com/
After cooking up a quick breakfast in the small kitchen, we set out on the 3km jungle hike hoping to catch a glimpse of the famed Cassowary. This pre-historic looking bird is on the endangered list and there are only a few places in Queensland for Cassowary spotting. The short, spooky hike took us about an hour as the trail was not very developed and felt like we were walking through a cave. It was so quiet, you could hear a leaf fall from a tree. Every noise was cause for a quick head turn. We were, of course, prepped by the Crocodylus staff on what to do upon encountering the 6ft, long-nailed Cassowary. No worries, mate. No bird sightings.

We then moved on to our next hostel - the Cape Trib Beach House. The hostel was not as unique as Crocodylus, but you could just roll yourself down a small hill to the gorgeous beach. Our entire stay at this place was spent reading on the beach, swimming, and relaxing. The rainforest literally hits the beach, so it is quite picturesque and interesting to explore.

Our last 24 hrs in the Cape was spent at the Cape Trib Farmstay- an orchard with lodging for 16 people. (http://www.dctta.asn.au/farmstay/)
It was much more intimate and we met a bunch of Israelis, Dutch, German, and British folks. The highlight our stay was the nightwalk and exotic fruit tasting led by one of the orchard workers. We carried torches (flashlights) and wandered through the orchard, rainforest, and estuary creek systems looking for creatures of the night. Talk about confronting fears! My heart rate was pretty high the entire time, though Dave seemed to be calm as can be. We did see some interesting stuff (frogs, eels, wierd birds, huge spiders, etc) and fortunately did not see any snakes! We did lick the butt of a Green Ant which tasted like lemon sorbet. I thought doing this might make me look tough b/c I knew I would scream if I a snake slithered over my foot..

The exotic fruit tasting was SO COOL! We tried some of the most bizarre looking fruit we've ever seen that actually tasted pretty good. The hands down favorite was the Soursop which tasted like every tropical bar drink you've ever had. There was fruit that tasted like and had the consistency of chocolate pudding and one like bubblegum. And then..... we tried the MIRACLE FRUIT. Were we ever enamored! Put this small, red berry-like fruit into your mouth, break the skin, swirl it around your mouth for 30 seconds, and spit out the pit and juice. Then, take a bit of any sour tasting fruit (lime, lemon, grapefruit) and it tastes sweet. More like those sweet/sour candies. YUM!!!! Evidently this berry has enzymes that neurtalize your tart/sour taste buds. The Miracle Fruit has been used to cure people of a smoking habit because it alters the taste of cigarettes!

The next day we shocked ourselves by getting up in time to watch the surise and hiked down to the beach in the dark. It was well worth it! Later in the day, we got back on the tour bus with our new friends from the Farmstay and headed back towards Cairns. On the way home, we went for a croc spotting cruise on the Daintree river and saw a few crocs. Not very eventful.. Then we got off the tour bus at Port Douglas to catch the Quicksilver high-speed catamaran home to Cairns. This was a cheap way to get a different view of the coastline as the sun goes down with $1USD HH specials!!

We arrived back in Cairns and checked into our favorite hostel. The rooms may be somewhat moldy, but the staff greeted us like Norm from Cheers. They knew our names, wanted to know how our trip was, bla, bla, bla. A little hospitality and free internet goes a long way when you are staying in moldy rooms.

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