Monday, February 27, 2012

Aussie Recap!!!

Wow... 11 weeks flewwwwwww by. I had imagined 4... maybe 6 weeks here in Australia. Oops! Well, not oops actually-- this country is huge and AMAZING, and 11 weeks really was only like watching a preview, enticing enough to reallllllly make me want to watch the entire ‘movie’ :).  You know I’ve already made a list of things I didn't get to do; have to leave something for my next trip!!! ... and I do intent to be back, someday :). I can honestly say my 75 days here was 99% positive. There’s not many other words to describe such a statistic but i n c r e d i b l e.  People are just nice-- everywhere! If push came to shove, I could live here for sure.

All last week I was up in the Daintree rainforest; working, swimming and relaxing!  Tina, the owner of the place, and I got along just great. It was quite a symbiotic relationship.  We developed a routine (and a sweet friendship) in our week together:  work hard, go for a swim to cool off, eat, nap, then watch a movie and cap the night with a pawpaw (like a papaya), greek yogurt and honey snack :)  She went above and beyond over and over, easily converting from host to friend. :).  

Adding Bamboo to the "Yurt" roof!

How sweet are those roots! I love rope swings!
On the 21st we drove down to Cairns and spent the day there. We went to their Botanical gardens--- and WOW, Cairns wins. Of all the other cities’ I went to (Melbourne, Albury, Sydney, Brisbane) this was by far my fav! It had this amazing jungle feel (of course, it’s a rainforest!) that set it apart despite it’s being much smaller.  After that we went to the Esplanade where we were among 3,015 people who broke the Guinness World Record for most people doing Zumba together!! So YES, officially I can add World Record Holder to my credentials ;) haha.

Cairns Botanial Gardens. Love. 

Hug a tree!


I was supposed to leave Sunday, but got an email on Thursday (ish) from a Couchsurfer! She wanted to know if I was interested in an Adventure weekend up in the Tablelands!! YESSS!! It was sad to leave Tina a bit early, but she was an angel and made my fav meal (roast and potatoes) for our last dinner and then eggs and bacon for ‘brekky’ before driving me all the way down to Cairns! We stopped halfway in a place called Mossman Gorge-- which I LOVED!!!  I spent the first few hours wondering the area while she ran some errands. I am truly right at home in the woods on the edge of a rushing river. I feel like I get covered in this cloud of peace and happiness and love and fulfillment when I’m there.  I am certain now I will buy land with woods and either a creek or river running thru it wherever I settle. It’s my happy place:).  Tina returned and we walked some trails, swam, climbed rocks, and I rode down the rapids after finding a fellow daredevil to show me where to jump in! Wheeewww! That place was awesome. Thank you Tina!! Everyone go stay at Saraswati’s Oasis!!! 

Mossman river!!

Mossman Gorge

That's my head in the rapids-- wwooowweeee!!!

She dropped me in Cairns that afternoon for a trade-off to my new host, Mathilda, whose profile on Couchsurfers could have been my own.  We swam in her pool and then went out that first night... it was fun and it was nice to put my dancing shoes on for a bit... but I didn’t last long before I was draggin’ and ready for bed! 12 is waaaay past my bedtime these days :) 
Saturday morn we woke up, packed day bags, and drove up into the Tablelands, to Tinaroo.  We were registered for an adventure weekend which consisted of 4 events plus a BBQ-- all for only $20!   First we teamed up for the Metrogaine-- which was an urban scavenger hunt!  Find and reach as many checkpoints as possible in 45 minutes. Next, we went to a campground to compete in an individual Orienteering race- a staggered start where you’re given a map and whoever finds the marks in the correct order and returns in the fastest time wins.  Third was a Bush Rogaine. Nope, no about hair growth;). Rogaining is similar to Orienteering, except it was a given time limit and whoever gets the most checkpoints in that time wins using only a compass and large scale map.  This one was crrrraaazzyyy awesome!! First off, a swim across a canal for a point (later I was told there are crocs in there!! ackkk!) then it was SERIOUS bush! Zero semblance of a trail- Totally off road!!! During competition I only had winning in mind, but was quite taken back afterwards when you consider Australia has like 223 kinds of venemous snakes and we were trekking thru their prime homeland!  LOVED it though! No snakes, just legs that looked whipped all over :).  Last was the fun race (to me they were all fun)! It was an obstacle course trail run-- which, among other things, included a swim, a climb, a crawl, and ended with a slip and slide!!!! Completely exhausting day, therefore I was in heaven!! The BBQ was quite delish and the day ended with the awards ceremony-- where I found out I’d won the Orienteering event!! Wooohoooooo. This should make my mom more at ease when I go off traipsing in the woods ;).   Mathilda and I blew up her air mattress and slept in the back of her car: camping at it’s finest :).

Croc water-- scarryyyy!

Making our way along Platypus Creek!

Pooped bush women :) 

Next morning, my very last day here, we were up at 6, because we had to get to the off-road triathlon!!! I’d found a wonderful lady who was willing to loan me her mountain bike, so was able to register for the race! It was only $15!!! I appreciate that AUS, considering in America they are $75+!  It was just a sprint distance (300m swim, 8k bike, 5k run) but it felt soooo good to race! It wasn’t a very big one, so not nearly as impressive as it sounds, but I got third place of the women. I was quite happy with that considering it’s been more than 4 months since my last race and my exercise here is sporadic at best.  More than anything it was synonymous to a huge red delicious cherry on the top of an absolutely amazing trip!!!!  I love you Australia!!!! 

A Hammerhead (my florida try club) in Australia!

AUS is actually pretty close in size to the USA, so for comparison sake, my trip from Melbourne (plus some to the west) up to Cairns (and north to Daintree) was more than 2600 miles, just short of the american equivalent from Los Angeles to Miami!!! 

I got to visit the cities of Melbourne, Sydney, Port Macquarie, Byron Bay, Brisbane, Rainbow Beach, Airlie Beach, and Cairns.  I did tours of the Great Ocean Road, Blue Mountains, Fraser Island, Moreton Island, and The Great Barrier Reef.  I stayed and worked in the Rainforest of Queensland and in the countryside of New South Wales at an Ashram, where I had the most AMAZING self discovery experience. I climbed the tallest mountain, went 60’ below the sea, and stood at the Eastern most point of the mainland!  I explored botanical gardens, ‘window shopped’ loads of markets, did city tours, played beach volleyball, practiced dragon boating, did an underwater nature trail, hiked as many tracks as possible (made my own at times), rock hopped up creeks, rivers, and along oceans, held koalas, fed birds, made pals w/ kangaroos (and ate some- sorry!), turtles and a ginormous fish named Wally.  Saw sharks, made art, learned african dance, meditative dance, and took a capoeira lesson :)  I traveled by plane, bus, train, ferry, car, tinny, kayak, 4 wheel, bike, and my good ole feet, which stood up to broken toes, mosquitos, leeches, giant biting flies, major sunburns, cuts, scraps, bruises, razor clam lacerations, burning sand, rock slammings... and a horrendously sad pedicure :)  AND, on the average, I managed to stay exactly on budget ($275/week) including airfare! Wow! Considering how craaazzy expensive AUS is (think $15-$20 for a simple lunch), that is an amazing feat! Thank you to frequent flier miles, tuna and pb&j, couchsurfers, and no desire to party, I think I can proudly proclaim myself a talented budget traveler :)  

The wrath of leaches
I must again give special thanks again to Peter and Gail, Dazza, PK, Marejada, Anudasi, Samaya and the ashram folks, Tyson, Gazza, Tina and Mathilda for extending their homes and hospitality and friendship to a strange girl from America:). I’ll be eagerly awaiting you to claim repayment!!!  
So what did I get out of it?  Besides mass visual orgasmo over incredible scenery and activities, I confirmed quite a few things I already knew about myself: That I love hot tea w/ milk and “biscuits” (cookies!) :) That I like ridiculously busy days, and calm peaceful introspective nights.   That I need to do something productive in order to feel okay relaxing. That I’m really not that into partying.  That I will always lose one earring and break whatever camera I have:(. That I love creating and discovering things.  That having nice things done for me reeeeeallllllllly inspires me to pay it forward. That I love not having to drive. That I love not having to shop. That I love not worrying about fashion, or lack thereof ;). That having quality food or accommodations are low low lowww on the priority list when up against an adventure. That I would prefer both, but I’d choose the mountains over the ocean any day. That the words please, thank you, and I’m sorry, when said with depth and sincerity, are like magic markers to me, erasing my issues instantly. And, that being yourself is 1,111 times better than being cool :).

...unless you're cool without trying to be cool ;) 
What’s the most interesting to me is that over 2 1/2 months, I’ve unknowingly been focusing on studying myself and the relationships and connections with people far more than with the actual visual/physical/location part.  I absolutely love seeing and doing all these amazzzzing things, and being in these amazing places, it feeds my body! But it’s the connections with people that has an overwhelming presence, feeding my soul!  You’ve probably noticed that in the blogs; the pictures take care of the action, but I like to write about the feeling or an insight. What I’ve learned is that getting to know people, and spending a good bit of time in one place is def’ the way to go when traveling solo.  Being a tourist: I recommend for 2 or more. I've learned that it only takes one full day (mostly much less) to cross the threshold of new/awkward/small chat into comfy/easy convo’s, but that for me 3 straight days is about the max I can spend w/ any one person, even someone I really like, before I need to go off and have at least a little bit of alone time!  That confidence is one of my favorite traits in other people. I don’t like to make all the decisions even though I like to make decisions! (ha- typical woman there)!  That our instincts and intuitions are powerful, powerful tools we should tap into all the time. That as much as I love the adventure, I love the downtime so I can reach out to those far away.  I learned that we have power over every thought/emotion/reaction in our bodies... not the action, but the response, and that’s incredibly enpowering.  That we need to love ourselves before we can really love anyone else.  I mean really love ourselves, and stay true to that.  Happiness doesn’t come from others, it comes from within, and it just gets enhanced when you add special people.  That being here on my own is wonderful, and I needed it and Im loving every minute of it, but that absence does make the heart grow fonder.  I really do have amazing friends and family!! Mmmm.... mental group hug please!!

An incredibly intuitive person (Hi Lenny!) once told me he could see I had a lot of love to give.  It’s very true... I love to love. I frequently get comments about how I’m constantly ohhing and ahhing and jumping up and down over the littlest things.  Some people say it’s childish... but I prefer ‘childlike’ (Yes Edith!!) and I love that about myself--- it’s so easy for me to love.  There IS beauty in everyone and everything!!  So making new friends is a funny thing.  Where do I have space for them??  We need a term in between an acquaintance and friend! And even in between friend and best friend!  At this point, there are times I feel overwhelmed with how many people I reallly do like and want to keep in touch with but it’s just impossible. Facebook is like a sauna. Feels great, good for your ‘surface’ skin, can be longterm beneficial to your health in short spurts by giving you the ability to keep in touch with so many people... but it can burn the shit out of you if you stay too long.  I’ve had trouble in the past where I HAD to keep in touch because that’s how I showed love, and when the other didn’t return it equally or in the same way, I thought the friendship was unimportant to them. I think that’s because everything (yes, everything) I do is extrovisual (I made that word up). My emotions, my mood, my attitude, my energy... it’s always been written all over my face, my body language, oozing from my pores. No way to hide it here, even when I want to. And because of that I’m beginning to understand that I have a ridiculous capacity to dish out love (and disappointment:(, working on that!). The trick is, accepting that giving it makes me happy, period. What I didn’t understand before is that I don’t have to get it back to still feel happy giving it. I have my Mudda to keep me feeling loved :) 

Sooooo, I need to trust more in my friendships, trust that you (yes you!) know I think of you even if I haven’t said hello in a while.  Trust that nature will run it’s correct course and weed out some relationships and strengthen others.  Similar to my friendships with Jill and Mandy (remember this blog?) and Mayumi and Serena, we’ve been separated for years by distance, but we don’t need constant contact to know we really love each other.   In all likelihood I’ll be moving to Southern Oregon (or the like) when Im done traveling. Which means every important person in my life will remain a long ways away :(, so finding a balance between becoming a facebooking fanatic and just trusting in a understood care will become essentially important. 

Without a doubt each and every day, in between and even throughout events, I’m thinking about people. Missing, wishing, loving, reminiscing, sending long distance hugs.  It really IS only our relationships and how you make people feel that matters.  Everything else dies with us. Our accomplishments, our resumes, our credentials (World record holder HA), our 6-packs or hour-glass figures (not me! speaking figuratively here!).  What will people say at your funeral?  Not that I plan on dying, but you know what I mean!!  That’s what it’s coming down to for me:  Does everyone that crosses my path feel better, or at least the same, but never worse, after our encounter?

This is of course much easier to say than do, as I know I’ve offended or hurt in the past (knowing with guilt or unknowingly) but I love to work on stuff, and writing it down is quite helpful. It’s like having an exercise partner that calls you at 6 times in a row at 6am, unwilling to let you sleep in and skip it :).  So, my friends, 'new word for in betweens' , acquaintances, family, true loves and those near and dear to my heart, I send love, lots of love.  Hope you can feel it :)

p.s.... I’m at my layover in Singapore at the moment, finishing the first 15 hours of travel... only 23 hours more until INDIA!!!!!  CANT WAIT FOR THE NEW EXPERIENCES!!!! Robynnnnnn is coming to visit!! Who is next??!!??!?!?!!? (hint, hint!)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Beaches, Islands, Reefs and Rainforests!

Last blog, I had just concluded a week of adventures, and this past week that ensued certainly continued the fun and hectic-ness! From Brisbane I bussed to Rainbow Beach- super cool place. You trek up to what's called Carlo Sandblow, where you can see (not quite a rainbow, but hey) different colored sands, made so from the minerals in the soil during different periods of it's history.  Best thing was walking along and kicking up different colors of sand where your foot had been!!

How cool is that? Diff colored sands at Rainbow Beach

Carlo Sandblow, Rainbow Beach
Then it was off to Fraser Island-- this is the world’s largest Sand Island. Crazzzy because it has a rainforest on it!!! It really was such a unique experience to be “hiking” in a rainforest but with barefeet and in soft sand!!   I decided to spend the dough and join a 3day/2night tour here as it’s been realllllly recommended... and Im passing that reco on!  Absolutely worth it!!!  It’s a 4wheel drive only island (access by ferry), so I joined a tag-along tour... meaning we (32 of us) drove ourselves!!! I am finally going to admit that Im a sucky driver :).  A million of you have said it to me, and this just confirmed it!  Especially in a 4wheel drive w/ 7 other people trusting me!  I’m just not comfy behind the wheel!  I was quite confident going into it (as with most things) but me and the driver seat just didn’t belong together :). Im so happy I have no car (and no keys to lose)!  I think I killed it more than anyone else on the trip... whoopsy!  

Yyyyaaa 4 wheel drive on 75 Mile Beach!!
The beach part was much easier than the rainforest part ;)
SO many amazing things on this island-- first of all coolest lakes ever.  We went to three.. a blue one, a brown one, and a green one.  The first, Lake MacKenzie, was a perfectly clear/ blue perched lake. Perched means its above the water table, and over time sand and vegetation have compacted making a bowl.  It is completely made of rainwater, not inlets or outlets.  They say it's one of the most photographed lakes in the world.  It was -- totally beautiful and crazy clear... not so good for snorkeling, but perfect for some underwater photo fun:).

How picturesque: our 4wheel family.
3 French, 3 English, a Swissman and me :) 

Pyramid time :) 
Next was Lake Allom, a perfectly brown lake.  It's also a perched lake, but colored with all of the oils from the surrounding trees.  I loved this lake cuz there was no shore anywhere.  Once we swam to the middle, the entire circle as you looked around was just big ol' trees and grassy water plants.  They promised no crocs, but still my heart was beating a little faster ;)   

Lake Allom entry parade :) 

They said no crocs!!! Ha :) 
 The last day we went to Lake Wabby, a perfectly green lake with lots of catfish and turtles. Unlike the others this one is at the water table level and known as a barrage lake. One where evolving sand dunes have blocked off a water supply, and eventually the sand will keep moving and fill this lake. Bummer,  because it being set on the edge of a steep sand dune makes it completely perfect for sprinting down and jumping in! yeeeeehawwww

Lake Wabby!  Don't mind if I do...
How about a group roll into it? Yes please! 

We also climbed up a cliff called indian head (a natural headland that protrudes into the water like a peninsula and ends the 75 Mile Beach), saw a neat shipwreck (the S.S. Maheno, ashore since 1935), and lounged in natural tubs called the champagne pools!!  
A plank at the ship- get it? ... Im so clever :) 
Champagne Pools! 
Can you see me out there? Soaking up the sun at Indian Head :) 

My favorite (and our awesome-blond-afro-guide Geoff''s too) was a rainwater creek streaming out to the ocean.  Both mornings we woke up, and then went there to really wake up, by floating down cold ass Eli Creek.

Eli Creek and good morning headstands :) 

More crocodiles! hhhahah. I love this.
Both nights we camped, cooked for ourselves, played games (my famous ‘Assume the position’ game remains a crowd fav!), had some goon (box wine!), and did the dishes in the ocean (this is actually quite fun and super entertaining!).  We were sweaty, dirty, fly bitten, sandy... but I was quite impressed with the whole group to be honest.  I was a bit skeptical to join... lots of these tours can be tons of youngin’s with party focus, but we were on-the-whole pretty great!  Camping has a way of bringing out both the best and worst in people.  If fact, as a side note,  I recommend camping early on when starting to like someone... you can really find out about their character when there's no coffee, hot water, tv or toilets! 

It was an early to bed, early to rise type weekend for me, I'm no doubt an early bird.  Three mornings I found myself up first, out admiring the beautiful beach, and both nights wandering out to gaze at the full moon and insanely starry night.  Thru the sky, I was “talking” to you amazing people back home... so if I was in your dreams last week maybe my vibes reached across the moon and stars to you!!!!   

Goooood morning!!

Good night! 
From Fraser, it was back to Rainbow for the night, where I did a free capoeira lesson. Whoa... if you want sweet legs look into that! I then took the overnight bus to Airlie Beach. Tyson's dad lives up there, so he went up to visit and doubled once again as an awesome tour guide.  We were pretty chill and went to a coral beach. I spent over an hour snorkeling in one foot of water cuz the rocks were sooooo cool! Could’ve been called rainbow rock beach-- soooo colorful!!  The bummer of this was my "waterproof " camera proved to not be so waterproof back at Fraser, otherwise you'd get to see some pics of rocks :) Don't be too bummed! Here I also got to eat my first kangaroo! Tyson’s dad, Gazza, made it for us!! YUM! It’s quite delish actually.  

Realized I could use my iPhone a bit late, but did get 
a few shots of bluer than blue Airlie!
Just spent the one night in Airlie, then took the overnight Greyhound to Cairns.. my bus arrived at 6am and by 9 I was on my way out to the outer Reef!!!!!   Let me just say, that the Great Barrier Reef is not one of the seven natural wonders of the world for no reason!! I got to do two dives, 41 and 49 mins-- and they were AWESOME!!!!!  The coral really was just breathtaking... and the amount and diversity and size of the fish was wheewww!!! I saw 6 sharks (white tip and grey reef sharks), got up close and personal with a big ol’ sea turtle eating some seaweed, and loooooooovvveedd when we actually got to go thru a coral tunnel!  My dive master was pretty flirty.... but in this case I was eating it up cuz it got me special treatment and he showed me allllll sorts of good stuff- like sticky coral, coral that changes color, and coral that changes from soft to hard! :) I also got an underwater waltz..  haha;) 

Meet Wally... he's technically a Humphead Maori Wrasse... but I think more like a puppy...
he obediently went wherever the photo guide led him! Strange but cool!

A giant clam!

Thru a coral tunnel!!! My one-time use Kodak camera= not so good :( 

Whewww, I feel like I've just been on an insane 2 month vacation.  Technically, I guess I have been. ha.  I mean it in the way that I didn't intend to be here so long, or to do so much "tourist-ing" but this place realllllly is amazing. Originally I was going to try and hit another country in between here and India (leaving the 27th) but I decided not to rush it and am enjoying a nice and relaxing cap to an action packed last few weeks...months really :)  Im currently staying with another wonderful connection, up here in Cow Bay, 2 hours north of Cairns. We're actually inside the Daintree rainforest, where city services are not allowed. Solar, gas, and septic it is!  This really is a great compromise if you want both the forest and the oceans!  I'm here with Tina, who runs a holiday home,  and her mom Jenny.  Tina and I work for about 4 hours each day, right now adding a roof to one of the huts. Tina is afraid of heights so she's quite happy I'm not :)   We have been going to different swimming holes each afternoon to cool off... she promises no crocs in there but I def still feel nervous!  Besides that, there is lots of napping in the hammock, reading, writing, and movies :). I walked (only 15 mins!) down to the beach the other day to read....  I really can’t get over how the rainforest just stops and you’re at the ocean! So neat. Exceptttt you can’t swim in it :(  There are crocodile and jellyfish signs allll over.  Yup, even in the ocean. Dang saltwater crocs!  Oh and the cassowaries... THAT has been cool.  We took a sight seeing tour and drove up to Cape Tribulation... and three times had to stop cuz of big ol’ cassowary’s in the road! HA! (it's a big flightless bird that looks like an ostrich). It def rains a TON here- I suppose rainforest is an apt name :).  Like Miami actually, super humid and hot and the next thing you know it's downpouring!  Pretty good reason to stay in and watch movies and read.  I finished "The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo" (over 500 pages) in two days. :)

I’m perfectly content to slow the pace waaaaay down and just relax my last week!  I'm, in a way, mentally preparing for the actual trip to start.  I say it that way just because being here in Australia really is so much like America in terms of culture, language, styles, etc.  I do feel like this time so far has been this huge vacation, and I've been a total tourist.  I'm beyond grateful for all my experiences so far, and especially my serendipitous time at the ashram... seems like somehow it was a preparation for me!  Very soon, and most of the rest of my time away, I'll be among quiiiiite different cultures and lifestyles, and I am reeeealllly looking forward to it.  So yes, it's chill out time in Australia for one more week.... except for tomorrow... next time you hear from me I could possibly be a World Record Holder! Cairns is attempting to beat the ZUMBA record for most people doing a zumba class together ... Tina and I can't resist :) 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Kindness of Strangers!!

It’s been just over a week since I left the ashram, and it’s been a ridiculously awesome week!!!!  I'm super high on life and I think it's attracting more good stuff!!!!   I must update on the awesomeness!:
Last Monday night my bus arrived late to Byron Bay, like 9pm.  Marejada, who I had met and stayed with before, opened her home to me again.  She says I am always welcome:).  Since it was so late, I hitchhiked. Thankfully got picked up within just a few minutes-- a guy named Tyson. Really nice guy.  As is usual, he has done some backpacking himself so is returning the favor.  (Remember him for future story). The next day, my first priority was laundry since everything I owned was wet and moldy!  ickk. I really wanted to use a dryer for my stuff so it didn’t have any chance to mold again, so we went to the Arts Factory. I had originally tried to stay at this place, amung other things its a hostel, but they were booked. Oh soooo glad we had an excuse to go out there! It was awesommmmmeee!  A real unique experience type place. A hostel yes, but a bar, a cafe, a camp village, tee-pees, a volleyball court, tons of hammocks, a lake... just an overall atmosphere that I love and AM going to incorporate into my life when I am done traveling!  

Super cool place!

Then Mare took me to the tea tree lakes. This was awesome as its just off the beach and actually is feeding out into the ocean! Its totally brown/orange/yellow though because of the oils. We were the only ones there so decided to tan our white parts :) 

Tea Tree feeding the ocean!

After that Mare had to go in to work, so her awesome neighbor asked if I wanted to tag along to a West African dance class.  HOLY awesome- LOVED it!!! First off, we had 3 live drummers in a little church hall, so the sounds sunk deep in our bodies! The teacher was fantastic, and the first hour+ we learned different moves in slow progressive steps. Its lots of pounding, jumping, athletic movements almost-- so I was loving it!  I thought we were done, but then we spent the next hour putting the moves together and actually doing a dance!!! Which rightly so ended with us all shaking our asses at the drummers as proper thank you’s- HA! We were totally dripping in sweat, so as a wonderful ‘cherry-on-top’ to a great day, Bree and I took a dip in the ocean, under only the moonlight! Wow that was fantastic, cold but exhilarating!  LOVE in Byron Bay! 
Next morning it was off to Brisbane-- Three words: Lone Pine Sanctuary! Wow!!! Totally touristic, but yes, I held a koala. #1 observation? They have a reallllly rough scratchy hard ass! hha! Still cute though :)  They must have close to 100 koalas... just doing the cutest things! Way more active than the ones I saw before. I spend 20 minutes just watching this one set: a baby on a momma’s back, who was just wandering here to there and now there... nowhere in particular, and a second baby (super energetic one) was bouncing all around chasing them, sometimes trying to climb on too. SOOO stinking cute!!! 



Then went and lounged with the kangaroos like old mates!!!! Seriously, like 15-20 of them, so accustomed to humans they didn’t even move!  Bunch of them were laying down so I did too.. right in the middle! Must have stayed there for 45 minutes just petting them like dogs!  Coooool! Especially the one that was with a joey (baby) in the pouch! Super cool!  AND then, there was a wild lorikeet (parrotish bird) feeding. They were awesome! Everywhere and all over, flying on your arms your head, inches from your face! :)  

Look how big that baby is!? Doesn't even fit!!

Kangaroo party? Don't mind if I do! 

We were having a moment ;) 

A few people had told me to skip Brisbane, not much there. Screw that, I loved it!!! City bikes - all day for $2, de-litter campaign with free lunch, actors in the streets. stopped at a cutsie gift shop and chit chatted with the wonderful owners for 30 mins. (check out And of course the Botanical gardens. Pretty sure Australia has got this down pat! So impressive, these massive chunks of land in the most primo locations in all these big cities I’ve been too! Good job AUS, hug a tree :) 
I had to take care of lots of business here... I was dealing with getting my Indian Visa (prob 5ish hours total...a pain in the rear but had lots of perfect timing moments)!  Made my first big rookie traveler mistake:  It’s gonna take 10 business days! I was planning to leave on the 13th, but that’s only 6 days :( Plus, I had to send it in! So Im addressing it ahead of myself to the post office in Cairns. Im reallllly nervous about not having my passport in hand! acckkk! BUT it WILL work out and WILl be there when I arrive! I also was trying to find someone to help me unlock my iphone.... met him (Kirov, thank you!!!) twice, no dice, but it was still quite pleasant and he’s giving me connections in Malaysia:) (anybody work for AT&T and want to hook me up with a code* or something???!!)  Lastly, thank goodness for a hostel w/ free wifi!  After 3 weeks of accessing the internet only enough to upload a blog here or there, I had a lot of catching up to do!  
I was going to head up to Rainbow beach next, but I got an interesting email that made me switcheroo the plans. Recall my hitchhiker guy Tyson from Byron? We had been chatty cathy’s on the ride, and conversations let to my blog so I gave him the address as he dropped me off.  Couple days later, he emailed me up and said he had liked my vibe and was loving the blog, and thought he could tell I was a good soul and would be happy to show me around where he lived, Moreton island- one of the largest sand islands. SWEET!  I took a ferry over, and he picked me up in a dingy (called a tinny here) and we boated up 2 hrs (ended up being a sunset ride!)  to the bar and beach house--- 50 meters from the water. Niiice.  First day we meditated on the beach with our feet in the water (awwww yesss) then kayaked for hourrrrrs-- saw a jillion big ol’ turtles, sting rays, and shovel head sharks-- of which he caught a baby one and I held it! (LOVE!)  

Me and a shovelnose sharkey!

We hiked up into the sand dunes... which were WOW! First of all.... it looks like a normal mountainous island with trees all over (which are really still also growing in sand) and then you just have these patches of pure white sand dunes! We swam in an oasis, climbed ( major leg burn!) to the top and wow the view was just so cool. Two different worlds with the tree/forest vs. the vast desert!  We bounded (so funnn) down the sand cliffs, to the the tide being out, and beached kayaks! We had to drag them foreveeeer to water...through razor clam ‘mine fields’!! I wasn’t too lucky and had a few cuts, but it was worth it for the shark sightings! There were four, prob 5’ long shovelheads all together at one point. Tyson tried to catch one like he did the baby, and it totally drug and made him fall over when it tried to get away! hhhhhaaaa awesome!!!!  We’re both super into self-help, appreciation, philosophical and inspirational things, so we watched a couple such movies/clips and talked about the awesomeness off life... over nutella :) yum!  
Moreton Island!
Next day, we decided to go farther, so took the tinny...with me as captain! :) We boated up to “Big Sandhills” for some sand sledding!  What an adventure!! So much like snow sledding! White snow? White sand!  Snow angels? Sand angels!  Sled? Boogie board! Bundled up? my case, yes! hahah. The UV rays are so crazy here, and I’d gotten some serious burn the day before, so I was in long pants, long sleeve, a neck wrap, a hat, socks and goggles! HA! Pretty styling!  That was sooo fun!  

I give fashion lessons ;) 

THEN, it gets better! We were heading out in the boat and Ty asks if I want to “ski” behind.  Of course I do :)  We stop and I jump in... and guess what???!?!? We were right above a massive starfish area! Maybe a breeding ground or something cuz there were literally hundreds! ACKKKK SOOOO COOL!!!!!! 
How cool is that??!!?

Up close and personal! Def a highlight of my trip so far!!!

We  took turns with the snorkel googles and must have stayed 20 minutes, just oohing and ahhing over such an ridiculously awesome finding!!!! Woohooo! As we continued boating along, they didnt stop, and what we thought was hundreds was really more like thousands!!!!!!  Also at this point seeing turtles, sting rays and shovelhead sharks is commonplace! Crazy! At one point we found really deep water.. I made lunch while Ty fished for dinner... and a HUGE turtle came up to check us out.. must’ve been 3 ft WIDE!!  We also saw birds diving into the water to fish, and got stuck in the oyster farm and had to drag the tinny thru mass muck and another razor clam mine field (luckily no cuts this time!)  Back home and thoroughly impressed and satisfied w/ a great day! We watched movies/ chatted more and then to cap off the day, went night spot light fishing... where Ty caught a squid which proceeded to ink him! HA!

Our last day I woke up and felt something strange with my mouth. Took pics to see myself--- with a GINORMOUS lip! Majorly swollen from the sun burn! Ouchhh!  
Whoaaaaa! Not plastic surgery!! 

Doesn't even look like me!  Who needs collagen? Just get a sunburn, its cheaper ;)
After I ran to show Ty my best Bubba Gump impression, we took the tinny back down to Dunwich and rode the ferry back to the mainland. We drove down to Currumbin and went to the Springbrook National park waterfalls----- amazing!!! There rain has been so heavy in prior weeks Ty said it was the most intense he’d ever seen it.  We climbed into the waterfalls and had to jump and push and swim hard to get behind the falls-- supppper cool! 

Drastic heat and sun calls for umbrellas and wet towels on head in the boat :) 
Right in the middle there is where we climbed behind the falls!

Sooo cool, thanks Tyson!!!!

So basically this first week after the ashram has been phenomenally awesome.  Im so happy I think it’s radiating out of me... maybe thats what Tyson felt?!!?! At this point you’re wondering what’s up with Ty?  Why is he doing all that for me? Is he asking for ‘favors’... and the answer is no! The world is filled with good people, people!!!!    As we’ve become better friends (and friends we will totally stay!) he’s told me that he just felt I was a good person, got some really good inspiration from my blog, and thought why not spend some time with a likeminded and fun person?  Oh there is so much beauty in people, just look for it!  Before the trip, many people asked me if Im nervous, aren’t I scared, etc.  The reality is Im not! The media portrays the world as sooo awful-- It’s NOT!! It’s incredible! I’ve been gone for 8 weeks already, and aside from one semi uncomfy (but still positive) episode, I’ve had all extremely positive “stranger” encounters!  Ty, Marejada, Bree, PK, Pete, Gail-- all people I’d never met, but are totally welcome in my home in America (whenever I go back!)

Look, Im not naive. I know there is bad in the world. I know I’m only in ‘placid’ Australia and I haven’t seen nothin‘ yet.  But, there IS more good than bad and I choose to focus on that.  I trust my instincts and intuition wholeheartedly. Yes, horrible things have happened to good people, but you can’t live your life in fear of the ‘what if’.  You know that saying that the majority of children are taught, “Dont talk to strangers”? That seems like a quite ridiculous piece of advice.  That’s WAAAYYY to general!!  Almost everyone is a stranger, not just to your kid but to us adults!  First of all, who are they supposed to talk to if they get lost? And second, it seems to me that would promote some social awkwardness, or at a minimum a bit of an ego and maybe even the start of being judgmental. Sensitive subject,  but the point is just that learning to be comfortable with people you don’t know is something we all need more of, and judging a book by it's cover isn't a very good way to walk thru life.  If we all started from very young and safely grew and practiced those social skills and nurtured our intuition, we’d be soooo much more confident!! Listen to your body and those clues that tell you yay or nay, not your mind that says "oh he's got lots of tattoos and long hair he must be a hooligan" !  Learn how to identify and then deal with that feeling you get when you're next to someone :). Its similar with dating really!  You go out with 10 people who all have picture perfect ‘resumes' but maybe just maybe you get a feeling with one. An indescribable feeling deep in your body that after you leave you say, ohhh I want to know more about them and be around them again!  Happens with friends too. Think about your aquaintances vs your real firends.  There is a feeling you have, of comfort, deep down that makes you click with some people and not others. Trust that click!  Anddd it happens with strangers.  I bet you can recall a time you met someone and just barely chatted with them, and as you were walking away wished you could get to know them more.  Tyson did!  And we all should! Go back and say, heeyyy, blah blah blah, lets be friends!!! hhaah!  

I think “Talk to strangers!” is excellent advice. Perfect example this last week, an incredible series of events all from the kindness of strangers. As far as the proper advice for kids? I don't know cuz I'm not there yet... but I’d imagine it'd be a bit more specific
Whatever it is that connects people,  Im loving it, loving life, walking around w/ a perma smile!  (well, technically, right now it's a blistery nasty looking half smile as my lip is healing ;)  but I try! 

*see all the pics here on Facebook, days 50-56 belong with this blog!
*Iphone help? Please!  It's an iphone4, firmware 4.11.08.  Not seeming to accept any unlocking stuff from online :/ Help please!!! Just want to be able to use this with my local countries sim card!