Hello, Civilization!

Trip Start Jul 17, 2011
Trip End Aug 18, 2011

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Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Friday, August 12, 2011

For the first time since I arrived in Cape Trib, I wasn't awakened by school girls this morning. However, I guess nature decided to return since the girls were gone, and I was awakened by wild turkeys instead. Their form of "gobble, gobble, gobble" reverberated all through the rainforest, echoing off the tin walls and roofs. So, once again, I was up at 6:00am.

Unlike the other mornings when I went back to sleep, this morning I couldn't and didn't really try hard either. I was so pumped to return to civilization, where I had phone service and could find free wi-fi at any Macca's. I packed up my things in the dark because the girls were still sleeping (see the paragraph below) and ran down to the Bistro to eat my last free breakfast. I had breakfast with my fellow Americans Nico and Elizabeth (the first I've met my entire time traveling) and then started loading up the car.

Ok, the Essex girls. These girls were CLEARLY in the wrong place. When I got to the dorm yesterday afternoon, they were there and were very unhappy. When they told me they had been told this (the Beach House) was supposed to have been a 3 or 4 star accomodation, I laughed and asked "Told by whom?" They clearly hadn't a clue as to what they were getting themselves into-and only wanted the beach. As Beck and I had discussed yesterday, the Cape Trib Beach House was not our usual type of accomodation, but we made the most of it and enjoyed it for the experience it was. Even though these girls were only there for one night, they were clearly not going to toughen up, so I left them to their misery.

I turned in my sheets and checked out and then I was off-headed south towards cheaper food, less vegetation, and most importantly, multiple ways of communication. Before I could get there though, I had to drive back through the rainforest. In my days of relaxation and brain shut-off, I had forgotten how tight the curves were and how hilly the drive was. At one point, I went about 10k without even using my accelerator-just the brake to slow the descent. (One of the locals told me that before the road was paved, it used to take seven hours to get from the ferry crossing to Cape Trib; it now takes just one hour.)

I waited in line again at the Daintree River to cross by ferry, and about five minutes after I crossed it, I saw the only thing that could make my heart race at that point-a cell tower. I immediately checked my phone to see if I had signal and I still didn't, but within another five minutes, I got message after message from Emily.

When Emily and I had said goodbye on the Indian Pacific train in Adelaide, we had made tentative plans to meet up in Cairns. I called her when I found a pull-off point and found out that she was just lying around the pool at the hostel in Cairns, so I drove down, picked her up, and went back up to Port Douglas-about one hour from Cairns.

It is really a gorgeous drive, and I was glad she got to see it since most of her traveling so far has been in-country. It was great to see her again, but it almost didn't happen. I called her when I got into Cairns so she could direct me to the hostel. Either her directions weren't very good or my following them was terrible, but I ended up quite a distance from her hostel. So, she started walking-all the time, talking to me to identify landmarks. After about five minutes, she told me she was in front of this battery recharge store. I looked up and I was in front of the same store, but I didn't see her. Finally, I walked out a bit and looked around, and there she was-on the other side of the store!

We reconnected as quickly and as easily as on the train and immediately began filling each other in on the events of the last ten days. We drove towards Port Douglas and enjoyed the gorgeous coastal drive. This time, I was able to give her my camera to take some pictures while I steered the car-very handy, she was.

The entire reason I had decided to go to Port Douglas before I left Cairns was for it's very famous four-mile beach. Four miles of unending white sand and aqua water! Can you imagine? The very idea brought a huge smile to my face. We found a place to park, made peanut butter/jelly sandwiches, quickly devoured them, and headed to the sand amongst the line of palm trees.

As we crossed over onto the beach, what a sight my wondering eyes beheld! Lounge chairs!!! Finally, I could lie on the beach properly. We settled in, and within a few minutes, Beck joined us (she had stayed in Port Douglas last night). We read/slept/soaked up the afternoon sun, and it truly was idyllic. By 4:00pm though, the sun had gone behind the palm trees and the wind off the water made it cool, so I had to put on my jacket. It was still nice just to sit there and read. We eventually decided to make our way over to the marina side of Port Douglas to watch the sun set over the mountains.

Beck had to leave, but Emily and I found a bench on the wharf and settled in with our cameras to capture the setting sun. She really is such a relaxing person, and I was so glad she was there with me. (I've definitely had enough alone time to last me for a few days.)

We headed back to the car, changed clothes, and headed back to Cairns for dinner. We walked around town a bit and finally stopped in at a Greek restaurant called Fetta. I have to say, as picky as I am about my Greek food, the food and atmosphere was top notch and I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting Cairns. We even had a bit of a show with a belly dancer.

After our amazing dinner, we headed to Macca's so that I could finally get some free wi-fi. We ordered coffee and then Emily and I surfed the net some and looked at my pictures from the Great Barrier Reef (she'll be snorkeling next week). It eventually got to be too late for her (she's got an early morning train to catch tomorrow) so I took her back to her hostel.

After I dropped her off is when it got interesting. I took a bit of a different route to go back to Macca's and found myself being pulled over (along with many other cars) for a random breathalizer. The police officer introduced herself as Candice of the Cairns Police. I somehow heard "Can I see your hands please?" Clearly, I was confused. After she administered the test and I passed-like there was any doubt, she went on to look at the car's registration sticker. Then she asked if the car was registered. I told her it was a rental and I didn't know. The next thing I knew, she was calling it in and then questioning me, asking where I was from, what I was doing in Cairns, and where I was headed. When I told her I was on holiday and headed back to the airport after a detour to McDonald's, she radioed back in and told them never mind and let me go.

So there I was, sitting at a 24 hour McDonald's for a few hours, taking advantage of their endless supply of coffee and free wi-fi. It was interesting to watch the nightlife of Cairns filter in every once in a while; the police even had to come in at one point because a customer was complaining about the fries-no joke. But I was in my corner, sitting quitely and trying to stay awake, so no one bothered me. Now, after turning the car in, I'm getting comfortable at the airport, waiting to check in for my flight. I really enjoyed driving here in Australia; it wasn't near as hard as I thought it would be, probably because I wasn't driving in a big city although Emily and I did drive around Cairns quite a bit tonight. By the way, Cairns airport is, by far, the coolest and hippest airport I've been in. The decor, layout, and seating apparatuses are so cool! Also, not once has my ID been checked, and I'm at the gate. Love this laidback life!!

Yesterday (because now it's 6:00 in the morning) was such a memorable day-in many ways, but mainly because I reconnected with a new friend and formed an even stronger friendship. I met Emily on my first day of "solo" travel in Australia, so it's fitting that we were together on my last day as well.
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