Swinging back and forth, I ran my fingertips up the many white webbings suspending me above the ground below. I left my hands there to linger for a while, feeling for vibrations from a giant mutated lizard that could pose a threat to the Cairns population. I was actually swinging in a hammock at my new hostel imitating the Amazing Spider-Man. I recommend seeing it! Andrew Garfield makes an excellent Peter Parker, while having great on screen chemistry with Emma Stone.
Let us rewind back for a second. There I was, casually just sitting in the office without anything to do. All our work had been outsourced to New Zealand so there was nothing for us to do until our contracts ran out. John called the remaining few employees into a meeting. “Uhh, I just want to thank you all kindly for the hard work you have put in what can only be described as a stressful and difficult period. Uhh, good news is that, uh management have agreed to pay out the remainder of your contracts and you are now free to leave.”
Two weeks of paid leave. Sweet. This gave me time to plan for my first big trip since Sydney. Due to it getting colder by the day it was to move north. Destination: Cairns. Foolishly, I had booked a 6 AM flight. The previous evening, I said my goodbyes to my Brissy family and made a beeline to bed at 9 PM.
It was the quietest I had ever seen Brisbane, that cold Tuesday morning where I waited for the airport transfer in the pre-dawn darkness. I am not one to sleep on planes but as soon as I took my seat I was gone until the captain announced our descent. A few hours later, I was fully relaxed in my new environment, reading my new book ‘Into Thin Air’ on the hammock by the pool surrounded by palm trees. The hostel itself had that rustic American motel feel with the rooms making a horseshoe shape around the pool centerpiece. The weather was scorching hot with barely a cloud in the open sky. I slapped on some sunblock and threw on my sunnies (Australian for sunglasses) and thongs (Australian for flip flops) to meet my friend Lyndsey.
Lyndsey is an unassuming person blessed with a generous and mothering nature. She left Brisbane to travel the whole Australian east coast with her sister, Gillian, who flew from Scotland for a holiday. The three of us headed off to wander around the Cairns waterfront, with tropical hills rollings around the side of the bay. There was also the massive swimming lagoon at the ocean’s edge with the famous fish ornaments.
We caught up with the latest news over burgers on the escapade. Before that I was helping them plan their tours for Cairns. Lyndsey is perhaps the most indecisive person in the world so this was not an easy process. I remember this one time when we were in Coles trying to pick out a birthday card for Ben. I swear we were there for an hour deliberating what to get him as all my choices were questionable. Finally, I had to choose an epic card that was a celebration for someone’s 70th, which was well received by the group, otherwise we might have been buying a card for Ben’s next birthday. They finally decided on a reef tour and a trip to the rain forest.
There was one point where we were standing in one of the many travel stores scattered throughout the city and we were speaking to this middle-aged travel rep. I had stolen the conversation away from Lynsey and Gillian and was inquiring about a Great Barrier for myself. She asked me if I was a strong swimmer to determine what type of tour would be best for me. This is the conversation that took place:
Me – “…well, I’m a decent enough swimmer but I’m not too sure about the girls that I’m with next week.”
Rep – “Girls next week? And you’re accompanying these two ladies this week?”
Me – “Um, yes.”
Rep – “Are you…are you a gigolo?”
Me – <laughs>
Rep – “If so, I’ll give you a good deal on the reef tour if you can give me a discount.”
Me – “Deal*, we’ll talk rates afterwards.”
*I do not condone prostitution