Sunday, October 21, 2007

Palm Cove, Kuranda, and on the road through tropical Queensland

The first step in Cairns announces a change - just as hot, but oh so tropical. Breathing is easier, no dry throat, and my face re-moisturizes itself.

I am the cause of many jam-ups on the sidewalk as the birds regularly stop me in my tracks. I hear more than I see, but I see plenty. If you live here, do they just become garden variety birds? Probably not. I love the local birds in California, and a good Mockingbird call will fascinate me all night. The lorikeet concert in the palm trees in Townsville was a real treat.

We obtained a rental car, and headed to Palm Cove, where we had a dreadful experience with the "charming" hotel with "an award winning Fijian chef" that we booked online. Audra and I will fully blog this after our blistering letters of complaint are posted. We found a wonderful alternative in the Hotel Mercure, with a luxury apartment and the most charming pool ever. But the whole fiasco took so long, we were forced into beer and peanuts as the only items left on the pub menu. We retreated to our luxury apartment with rum and potato chips, with the promise of a good breakfast.

We were just a cross-walk away from the beach where I spent hours swimming in the South Pacific Ocean. The sand was like silk. And I saw crocodile tracks in the sand!
Spice was the name of the restaurant and bar attached to the hotel, and I discovered a Bleu Blue, a martini made with Sapphire Gin and green olives stuffed with blue cheese.

We took a steam train ride up to Kuranda, a village at the top of a mountain covered in tropical rainforest. We selected this activity on the advise of a total stranger we met at the sunrise visit to Uluru. A group of refugees from a local road race in Broom were toasting the sunset, and commented on my viewing perch in the boot of the car. Audra told them she was making me tour Australia in the boot, they offered to take our picture in from of Uluru, we shared a toast and an evening friendship was cemented.

His advise was solid. We had lunch in a balcony jutting into the forest and were amused by the birds. We tasted local wine, I bought some lovely shifts for the upcoming cruise, and Audra stocked up on sarongs. Many fine minutes were spent tasting local honey, but I wonder how they know for sure that the bees made the honey
from the nectar source listed on the label? Hours later, we boarded the gondola ride down through the rainforest. Audra managed to relax into the experience. It was breathtaking. You could look straight down to the forest floor, or view the horizon, the ocean, back up the mountain, or forward down the slope.

We hit the road to meet up with Kevin at Airlie Beach for the cruise. We had a frightening time when Kevin called from Sydney. He was experiencing heart palpitations and was rushed to hospital. We were ready to cancel all plans and go to Sydney, but it was not a serious situation, and Kevin recovered fully with promises to take a boatload of tests, with definite lifestyle changes. He arrived in Persepine Airport on schedule, with the cruise as treatment for frayed nerves. He brougt internet access with him, so of course I logged on, only to learn that my mother Charlotte was in hospital after a heart attack. Again, I was ready to cancel all plans and fly to Ohio, but my sisters Marsha and Nancy assured me that all was well. Mom was airlifted from her small village into Toledo and a major hospital where she underwent surgery to install stints in her arteries. She assured me there was nothing I could do, and that Mom would feel really guilty if I cancelled my trip. Staying here was very hard. I wish I was there to help my mother and my sisters. But our life never delivers the script we draft, and we are forced to perform the one that is written. I will set sail tomorrow with a heavy heart that is no more than my fair share of life.

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