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Wednesday, 22 June 2011
Wednesday, 15 June 2011
Tuesday, 14 June 2011
It took two hours to get do the 8km to our couch surf (two buses with a long change) as public transport is bad here. We stayed with a guy called Mike through couchsurfing and was right by the coast at yorkey's knob beach and we went for a dip every morning.
The first day we went to the local fete and the second day we hitched up to Port Douglas and played the market there. We didn't make much dough so hitched back to Cairns in the afternoon and did some night busking which we've found to be much more profitable if you have a busy street with drunks after 10pm. It's mostly drunk girls in Cairns. The ratio of women to men is 5-1 as most men work at the mines. We get good tips with Maria's great dancing and I sing really loud after all thus busking, from up the street it sounds like I have a mic.
Before busking we got a text from Piet to say he was at the Marina so we went to confirm and discuss and see the boat. Hard to believe it's for real. He left holland 5 years ago and has been sailing around the equator. 5 years without once needing a jumper.
Maria is even happier than me because she has a boat back in Italy and it's long been her dream to sail around the world, and now it's come true. I think it's karma because she gave up her flight back to Rome to come cycling with me, which she struggles with on account of her knee, but she'd have done it fir me, and now I end up sailing with her. Who knows, maybe we end up sailing rather than cycling around the world, I'll roll with whatever. It's exciting to think we'll be as good as qualified sailers after the trip, because Piet's a sailing instructor and can't not teach.
The boat is really nice. 45 feet and teak and built for comfort not speed. We have our own cabin. Really luxury because most boats are packed with people I think.
On the last day before we stayed at the host in Yorkey's knob and I'm the evening had a strange experience where we got ditched by our host.
Luckily after an hour on the Internet we found a couch right by the airport with Moggy from England who was a great guy, super high on life. After 16 years as an occupational therapist in London he was reborn in Cairns. The job there was working with disabled people for social services. In the roughest area in London. Gang fighting. In the week before he left for example, twice two different 13 year olds brought guns into the social services building. He said London sucks the soul out of you and with all the budget cuts it's spiralling downwards out of control and england is turning into america. He's really seen the worst of it there.
In Australia his job is working with remote aboriginal communities. It was his first day at work flying our there next day and he'd heard that it would make the London gangs look like primary school. Everything goes on out there. Broken communities. Tribes that hate each other but were brought together by the missionaries and have still not been separated (the govt policy now is not intervene in that way). He's happy though because living in Cairns is a dream for him. He raved for an hour about the area and it was a pleasure to listen to him, sitting on his balcony which looked out on a unesco world heritage sight. He'd spent all day on the reef and was saving the rainforest 100km up the coast until he has a week there because it's so amazing.
Two notable pieces of good fortune happened to us in Townsville, which you may remember we only came to because qld rail gave us the tickets to it (it wasn't on our route) which only happened because we played on abc radio, which only happened because I couchsurfed with Mary in Toronto who's cousin worked for abc, and stayed in touch with her through Facebook. At Celine's BBQ, one of the CSers worked at a mine and said he would see about getting us a gig there, which worked out. $400 to play an informal set in the bar, flights, food and a tour of the mine. So much for carbon neutral touring, but it would be an education and hopefully I get a song out of it. The tour alone would be worth the trip, as it's not something many people get to see.:
And secondly, at the twilight sailing we asked around in the Marina if anyone was sailing to Darwin and a retired Dutch couple on a round the world trip (it's taken them 6 years to get this far, why rush?) knew of another Dutch guy, Pieter Snel, who needed a crew (the Dutch do this kind of thing, I've heard stories here from people of three different cyclists who made it here across land from Europe and they were all Dutch). We called him next day (he was in hospital with some chronic internal pain) and he was interested in having us. He knows we can't sail (he's a sailing instructor) so asked $10 a day each, which isn't too bad as we will have learnt to sail by the end of it, but is a stretch for our budget as busking at sea is tough. Dolphins aren't big tippers. We'll have to pullout all the stops busking a week in Darwin, and I've arranged show there. It promises to be the trip of a lifetime, sailing up the great barrier reef, snorkelling, fishing, around the Australian coast, the up to Indonesia and on to Singapore - 3 months. And that it's cone out of the blue like this makes it even more trippy. We are really lucky to have cone by Townsville because all the boats are waiting for the Darwin Ambon Rally and sailing up there from south Australia, but we've heard from a guy in Darwin who can't get a boat, that they're already crewed up by the time they get there. We count our lucky stars it worked out this way.
Piet said to meet him in cairns so we called qld rail for the third time (we had already called and got another free ticket to mt isa on the way to Darwin, which we changed to Cairns) talk about freeloaders. Thanks again guys.
We had a really fun time there. It was a real insight. Two runs on the truck was enough for me. Very boring.
The bar opens for two hours again at 6am when the nightshift finished. Always on the go.