“It’s ‘Cans,’ Mite!”
It may be spelled CaiRns and look like it should rhyme with ‘fair+n’ but the Aussies say ‘Cans’ with a really nasal ‘A’ diphthong. Not pretty. I never got into the city so I can’t say if it’s pretty or not, but the territory is.
This is the home of the Great Barrier Reef, which stretches along Queensland’s coast for 1,400 miles. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is ‘the only structure composed of living creatures visible from space.’ It’s been called the Eighth Wonder of the World and is comprised of 2,900 separate reefs, 600 islands, 300 cays and 360 types of coral.
Yesterday’s big shore excursion was an 8-hour trip by giant catamaran out to one tiny part of one reef. Once arrived at the pontoon platform (see below), we could take a ride in a glass-bottomed boat, hire a helicopter, or snorkel. There were 300 of us (I said it was a giant cat!) and the majority snorkeled. Including yours truly.
Though I had brought a (cheap) plastic pouch for my camera so I could use it underwater, I didn’t trust it. So I’ve cribbed internet photos of fish and coral. I was sure I would know my fishies again when I saw their snaps, but with 1,500 species to choose from, I didn’t see a face I remembered. But these are all gorgeous.
The white thing on the right, below, is the ‘platform.’ The catamaran tied up to it and became our lounge, bar and dining room. The platform was where we got and got into our anti-jellyfish ‘sting’ suits, then our fins, masks and snorkels. We swam off the platform in a contained area, under the watchful eye of two lifeguards. There were many, many more people in the water than in this photo!
It was a long, tiring day. The snorkeling was easy and totally relaxing. It was getting in and out of the protective Lycra ‘sting suit’ that burned the calories.
I burned a few anxiety calories trying to keep track of my snorkel buddy, Les. His wife put me in charge of him and, after about 10 minutes in the water, he lost me, and I couldn’t find him. In those getups, everybody looks the same. Les showed up on the cat an hour later, having gotten out of the water to go on the glass-bottomed boat ride. Once upon a time he’d been a water skiing instructor, and I hadn’t seen any real dead man floats in the water, so I wasn’t too worried.
The almost-mile-long walk back to the ship from the dock drained what little energy any of us had left, and, for me, it was an early night. I opened the drapes at 8:19 to see if there was anything to see and this lovely cat was sailing by — her sail lit by changing-color lights (they don’t show in the photo). There was some light from the lower decks of our ship, but it’s still amazing what an iPhone camera can do in the dark, no? Yes, I ‘enhanced’ it.
Besides being colorful, Australian bills are extremely durable. Since 1988 they have been made of polypropylene polymer. Australia was the first country to use polymer for its bills.
I have a little zippered pocket in my swimsuit and put my credit card and some cash in it. It was literally in the water or lingering in a wet suit for about 6 hours and got just a wee bit damp. It was fine by morning.
Today (Saturday for us) was a sea day, and all the snorkelers appreciated not having to get up for an early excursion on shore. Didn’t stop me from my 8 am Pilates class, but I skipped the 5 pm ‘Animal Moves’ exercise class — I’m smarter than to even go outside, let alone go outside and exercise on deck when it’s 95. And where we’re going, it’s gonna be even hotter…….. oh joy. #