Tuesday, 14 June 2011


We arrived in cairns Friday evening and it was clear that it's a party town. Lots of bars and clubs and hotels (although the loss of Japanese tourists and the cyclone have slashed the number of visitors this year). It's the gateway to the barrier reef and surrounded rainforest. Port Douglas in particular up the coast is an A-list location, with the oldest rainforest in the world, and half of Australia's animal species live in it.
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.

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