What's been going on in my world, you ask? Well it's been like this...
After Emailing last, I left the café (somewhat lighter of pocket - it's not cheap here) feeling guilty because I was meant to have spent the day looking for new digs, but had instead squandered my time on the internet. I popped to the supermarket to get a few essentials, and as I stood at the till preparing to pay, a notice on the noticeboard caught my eye. It was advertising a room to rent in a house along Four Mile Beach, $80 per week plus electric, no lease, use of pool and near to the beach. I called the number shown, to find out that they had only just stuck the advert up. A- and M- came and picked me up from town and took me out to look at it. The place was really nice, and suited my purposes well, so I arranged to move in a couple of days later.
The couple were about to start there IDC (instructor's course) in a day or two, so I made sure I kept myself to myself so they had enough space to study - I know how stressful it was doing it myself, let alone as half as a couple. In the event A- passed while her boyfriend M- has to resit his exams in a month's time. To keep me out of the house . . . and just because it's nice and relaxing . . . I took to visiting Four Mile Beach of an evening; sitting, chilling, looking at the stars, listening to the waves crash gently against the shore. Nice.
On the day before our first unbelievably quiet day, Keri (lovely Kiwi instructor) and I were working. She suggested that we pop around Ghigo's (cool Italian divemaster) place on the way home. Once we found out that there were only twelve passengers booked on for the next day, we determined to see if he was up for a bit of a piss up. Once the boat was cleaned we cycled around there. His partner and her parents were down in Sydney, so he had the flat to himself. He was on his first of two days off, and it did not take any hard work to convince him to have a bit of a session - "why not? At least I am off tomorrow", he said.
Keri made the first trip to the nearby bottle shop, and came back with two bottles of Pinoit Noir. Ghigo, being the perfect host provided us not only with nibbles, but also a proper meal . . . pasta, of course. We sat and chatted and laughed, and got through the wine without too much effort, so moved on to a bottle of red that Ghigo had in the house. Once that was drunk, it seemed only right to make a return visit to the bottle shop, for which I volunteered. Of course there seemed little point in making the journey for a mere one bottle, so we agreed that I'd get two.
I left the apartment via the patio doors, stepped out of the gate and apprehensively eyed my bicycle, propped up on its stand. I managed to jam my helmet onto my head, and attached my nifty little LED torch around my helmet - voila, instant headlight! Shakily I straddled my bike, and managed to get to a tottery start down the drive, convinced I would spill any moment. I turned left onto the road and made my slow, unsteady way toward to bottle shop, promising myself that I'd get a taxi home later, and pick up the bike in the morning. After a short distance though I seemed to gain some better control over my limbs, and actually started to enjoy my ride. By the time I arrived at the bottle shop my confidence had grown. I parked my bike with the careful, deliberate movements of a drunken person and made my purchase, before riding back up the road, and only slightly missing the right house first time around.
Whereas my expedition seemed to have sobered me up, albeit only slightly, Keri and Ghigo seemed to have gone the other way, and were one step from blotto on my return. Keri later said that it was from this point on that she was seeing double. I'd not been back long when she made an extended trip to the bathroom, and came back smiling, explaining that she had been sick, but felt much better now. A while later, and she had again disappeared for some time. Ghigo and I discussed her absence, and concluded that she was probably throwing up again. Sure enough when she emerged Keri told us of how she had power chucked all over Ghigo's bathroom, which she had then had to clean. It was around this time that we decided that we should make our excuses and leave - after all, we did have to work tomorrow.
Ghigo accompanied us outside, and we exited the gate and stood in the driveway next to our bikes. Keri realised she needed a little sit down before the bike ride home, and Ghigo and I decided to join her, so the three of us sat facing each other in a triangle. Before long that became too much effort, so we each lay back on the concrete, and remained that way for around an hour, I'd say. At one stage a neighbour returned home and entered her house, only yards away - I dread to think what she thought when she saw us. We lay peacefully down, each in our own drunken world; after a time my attention was drawn by a crashing noise.
I looked up to see Keri sitting up, 'ooops!' written all over her face. I sat up and turned to see what she as looking at - Ghigo lay under her bike which had fallen on top of him as she had tried to get her T-shirt from the basket. He lay there, not moving a muscle, asking "is everybody okay?" in his thick Italian accent. After a minute or two it dawned on us that we should probably attempt to remove the bicycle, and we eventually managed to extract him from underneath it. Ghigo reminded us that - as he had previously mentioned - we were welcome to crash there, and this time we decided to accept his kind offer. We all but crawled back into his pad, and the three of us crashed on the tiled floor of the living room, until sometime after three he persuaded the two of us to move into the guest bedroom and sleep the rest of the night on a bed.
The next morning, badly hungover, we cycled the short distance to work, stopping at the shop to buy toothbrushes and toothpaste. With twelve people on board and five staff the day was ridiculously quiet. I had one certified diver and Keri had two intros - normal numbers would rarely drop lower than six of each. We had certainly chosen the best time to do it. The journey to and from the reef was a tad lumpy, but not even I threw up! It was sunny for most of the day - only as we drew closer to Cairns did the clouds close in. The mainland was enveloped in grey, and rain drizzled down.
In a purely coincidental turn of events, that was the last day I worked for five days . . . whilst the weather has by no means been bad, it has not been as perfect as it had been, so people were still being put off the idea of a trip to the reef. Ironically, conditions seem often to prove to be worse here on land than at the reef. G- explained to me that when number are low and fewer staff are needed, it is his permanent staff that he will offer preference too - understandably. I am trying to ensure I have the correct outlook on this situation; it is easy to spend your days at work wishing you were off, and the days that you are not required to work wishing you were working. I am trying to reverse this "the grass is always greener . . . " tendency in thinking, and to actually enjoy each day, whatever I am doing. So far so good, I think.
My days off were well timed too, as it gave me a chance to catch up with a few people, firstly Jen and Heidi from the IDC, who travelled up one Saturday, and found Port to be a slightly more relaxing place than Carins, not surprisingly. It was really good to see them again, and hear how their lives were progressing. My next visitors, a few days later were Megan and Mullet from the Africa overland trip, and Len, Mullet's dad. They were up in Cairns toward the beginning of a month long trip up the coast. The night before they came up to Port, Megan had managed to get them chucked out of the friend's house where they had been staying in Cairns . . . apparently she had expressed an opinion that was unwelcome to her host. Not like Megan at all to get in to trouble for being too vocal!
It was great to see them, and to embark on Megan's Magical Mystery Tour, highlights of which included views of Port Douglas from the lookout (after spectacularly abandoning the hire car in the middle of the road), an ice cream stop, and a visit to Mossman Gorge, complete with informative trek through the rain forest and a refreshing swim in the river - where Len won the wet underpants competition. The day was rounded off nicely with a few jugs of VB in the Courthouse pub back at Port. It was really good to catch up with them again, and lovely to meet Len - I now know where Mullet (who attended sans hair) gets his comedy voices and bizarre sense of humour from.
The following day I was back at work, the weather having improved somewhat, and numbers having increased - it also helps that most of the regular staff tend to want time off around the weekends, so us casual staff have a better chance of earning around these times. G-, the boss, had kindly invited everyone at work out to the nearby Rainforest Habitat centre for dinner on Saturday night - a gesture which was appreciated all round. We were all pretty sure that it was 'on him', which was confirmed on our arrival. I turned up with Keri, and when G- saw us he bought us a bottle of wine between us - which put our minds at rest on the other thing we had been unsure about, was it an open bar? We happily resolved to get mightily pissed . . . a mission in which we both succeeded.
The Habitat is great (and bears no resemblance to the English shop), an enclosed area where some of the native birds and animals are free to roam, whilst you sup and eat your dinner. As we stood at the bar, a wallaby bounded passed us. They say the food was really good too, although I think I stuck mainly with the liquid. I remember them bringing round a small croc for us to touch, and later a snake, though not much in between and hardly anything at all after. Instead my memory is composed of a series of snapshots of being different places with different people. I was told yesterday that I sat my boss down and told him how much I enjoyed working for his company - which is cool, because I do.
A good evening was had by all . . . well, apart maybe from one of the skippers. His psycho-bitch girlfriend came up to where he was sitting with a group of his colleagues, talking innocently, and hit him hard three times about the head because there were women at the table, and in her mind he was chatting them up. Apparently she has been physically abusing him for some time. Still, what's a good party without some scandal, eh? At the end of the evening I got a lift home with Ghigo, and his lovely Dutch partner, Ina. I was eternally grateful in the morning to discover that they had also brought my bike home too, so I could cycle into work rather than have an hour's walk. We all turned up a little bit pissed still in the morning, for what was fortunately a reasonably easy day.
So as you can see, things have been grooving along quite nicely here. We have even had a couple of good looking blokes on the boat - a real rarity. Hope all is well with each of you, and that those of you in the Northern hemisphere are looking forward to the good aspects of winter, rather than dwelling on the not so good (easy for me to say, I know, but still).
Take care, one and all, and until next time, TTFN.