GBR

We have finally arrived in Cairns, gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. We found another couchsurfing host, Levi –this was his first time hosting, and he’s never surfed before (!)– but he was fantastic. Our topics of discussion included AFL (footy/aussie rules/the most intense game ever), the NBA (he’s super keen), traveling in South America (he’s planning a trip), the Royal Australian Navy (he’s a member) and each of our future life plans. His roommate happened to get getting scuba certified that very weekend, so we had plenty of advice to share.

Couchsurfing in Cairns (Levi is second from the left)
Couchsurfing in Cairns (Levi is second from the left)

During our one day in Cairns before boarding our ship, we visited the Esplanade which has a lovely public swimming area and heaps of shops and markets. We relished the sun and soaked it in for a few hours.

The Cairns Esplanade swimming pool (with sand!)
The Cairns Esplanade swimming pool (with sand on one side, cement of the other)

On our way back, we noticed signs for–of all things– the Great Moscow Circus! In Cairns! We pulled over to take some pictures (we could see camels and zebra in the back), and just then a family walked out of the tent asking if we wanted free tickets because their daughter got too scared. Free tickets to the circus, right now, why not?! And so Christina got to relive her childhood birthdays and Paul got to see his first circus ever (I still can’t believe it myself).

The Great Moscow Circus tent in the middle of tropical Cairns
The Great Moscow Circus tent in the middle of tropical Cairns…Christina holding free tickets

With an early start, we jumped on the Reefkist for a two-hour ride out to sea to our new home away from home (away from car/tent), the Kangaroo Explorer:

The liveaboard dive boat Kangaroo Explorer (operated by Cairns Dive Center)
The liveaboard dive boat Kangaroo Explorer (operated by Cairns Dive Center)

For five days and four nights we got to hop between reefs and scuba dive as much as our bodies would allow (9 for Paul and 15 for Christina).

Christina in her element, about to jump into the ocean
Christina in her element, about to jump into the ocean at Milln Reef

We were also fortunate enough to have a Minke whale swim right past our boat (two of the instructors jumped in to snorkel with her), as well as have some dolphins bow ride right below us. And yes, we saw sharks (only a couple little guys).

Our fellow shipmates included Dana and her dad Joe (from Toronto), a New Zealand high school class, 2 Germans, 3 Americans, 1 Frenchman, 3 Brits, as well as many others we didn’t meet, and a seemingly endless rotation of international crew & dive masters (the Reefkist met up with us everyday to swap guests and crew, since you could stay for any number of nights you wished). Dana and Joe are avid world travelers (and dive masters themselves) and made for great dive buddies, so we had plenty to talk about over meals.

Dana, Joe, Christina & Paul on the Kangaroo Explorer, on the Great Barrier Reef
Dana, Joe, Christina & Paul on the Kangaroo Explorer, on the Great Barrier Reef

Speaking of food– being served 3 warm meals a day was a welcome break from our little camp stove and having to do dishes hunched over with a cold water trickle from our water jug… but it turned out that five days was just enough time to get through the meal cycle without it repeating. Turns out five days is also the perfect amount of time to get your sea legs… so naturally when we got back to land, our bodies were a tad confused and needed another few days to re-adjust back to solid land…

So why not re-adjust in the rainforest?… next stop Daintree National Park.

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