Day 13, Sunday, 1/19/03
Breakfast this morning was at 7:00 and was quite a change from our normal toast and pear halves. They had all kinds of cereal Danishes, fruit and salad. It was strange to have such a nice restaurant in the hotel and have so many people around who arent traveling with Contiki.

We got dressed in bathing suites (cossies) and cover ups and met out in the lobby at 8:00 for the bus to the Quicksilver boat. It was about a half-hour ride past oceans and rainforests. It was a beautiful drive.

We walked around the shops for a while and bought an underwater camera. We climbed aboard the boat and went upstairs to get forms filled out for our scuba dive. We had to answer a questionnaire about our medical history. After that was all filled in, we went outside to the top deck for departure. We were told to be back at 10:30 for instructions and dive times.

It started raining while we were outside and looked to be a very gloomy day. We stayed in the rain for a little while, but then Michelle and I went inside in search of cookies. Those were already put away, because they were only set out for before our boat took off from the dock.

We went in for dive instruction and I grabbed Cory from the deck. They told us a few things about equalizing the pressure in your ears by blowing into a plugged nose and the hand signals used (an A-OK symbol means all good, while a thumbs up means go to the surface). After that was done we went back to the lounge area to wait for docking. The company has a pontoon out in the middle of the reef. The boat drives out there, docks and we got off onto the pontoon, where they have all the water sports. Our dive time was 11:30, so pretty much as soon as we docked, we had to grab flippers and goggles and go to the dive area. Our instructors name was Rhett. We wore half wet suits (they only went to our knees and were short sleeved). He strapped us into a weight belt and the vest with the tank. It was very heavy. Then, we walked to a plat form in the water. We moved slowly, getting used to the breathing. I was nervous at first because Im so used to breathing through my nose, but after a short time, I got used to it. We did tests underwater, like clearing our goggles and taking out our breathing things and pulling them back in. Then we started going down a rope to the bottom. We stopped every few feet to equalize the pressure in our ears. When we got to the bottom, we saw amazing sights. Actually, even at the very top, we saw fish all around. Down on the bottom we saw beautifully colored fish in blue (they are so blue), orange, and yellow, fish with stripes and creatures that didnt even look like animals. It was beautiful and half the time I couldnt even believe I was scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef. That knocks something off my life list.

After our dive was over, we had our included lunch. It was actually very good, with meats, pasta salads and fruit. The drinks however were extra.

To make sure all the food had settled, we went on a semi-submersible boat. It had glass on the bottom and we sat down there and watched as we passed coral, fish and tons of jellyfish. We saw a sea cucumber and lots of colors. Behind us sat Sarah from Perth and Daniel from Germany.

Next, we got all smushed into our stinger suits (these Lycra all-blue suits that cover you from head to feet, including gloves for your hands). They showed off every imperfection on your body and even had a hood. Everyone looked pretty funny running around in these blue, skintight Lycra suits. We all looked like we belonged with the blue men in the Pentium commercials. Snorkeling was pretty cool, though after diving I kept forgetting how short the breathing tub was. I would try to dive down to see a fish closer and would get a mouthful of salt water. At first you couldnt really see anything, but when you got out further, as you floated on the surface, you could see whole schools of fish and lots of different fish. There were jellyfish everywhere. I was just swimming along when all of a sudden I got a sharp pain in my ankle. I got stung by one of those bloody stingers on the only part of my body that was exposed. The suits had stirrup bottoms and you wore flippers, so most of your feet and ankles were covered, but not the place I got stung. It felt like a bug bite, but it just keeps hurting, instead of lessening.

We had to leave the pontoon at 3:00, so we snorkeled until 2:30, showered, looked at pictures ($20 a pop) and got on board. The ride back to shore put a lot of people to sleep. We got on the bus and Nanique, Lorenda and Michelle made a game of putting down the armrests.

We showered and changed and went to Woolshed for dinner. We got Hawaiian pizza and left at 9:30 again. I was tired and that way we got a free ride on the coach. These rooms are so nice, I dont mind spending longer in them.

Day 14, Monday, 1/20/03
Today was such a nice relaxing day. We didnt have anything planned that we had to do. So we just played everything by ear. We actually got to sleep in and not wake up by an alarm. Well, actually I slept in, Cory woke up early and put our laundry in the washing machines. We definitely needed it, especially with our disgusting clothes from quad biking. The only bad part is that the dryers dont work all that well, so we had to lay our clothes all over the room trying to get them dry.

After we woke up. I flipped on the TV and watched the coverage of the Canberra fires. Its crazy, the whole town went up in a brushfire. It would be like if Washington DC burned to the ground.

We got dressed and met Nanique and Stacy in the lobby to catch the shuttle into town. Its a pretty nice deal, because the shuttle comes by every hour and is completely free. We walked around the town center area. Nanique said she thought it looked like Disneyworld. All the buildings were brightly colored and everything was very clean. We dropped off our underwater camera to get prints and got our memory cards from the digital camera put on CD. We sat at a corner caf while Nanique and Stacy had breakfast. After that we walked to a mall and went shopping. I wanted to get a skirt because I didnt pack one and I feel underdressed at times. I found a really cute jean skirt with a little white ruffle at the bottom.

After a while we left and went to pick up our pictures. We got some good shots, especially the ones that our dive instructor took. We figured its because hes taken so many. Later, we saw Erics pictures and he had some incredible shots.

We had lunch at a corner caf. I had a BLT and a vanilla milkshake and Cory had a burger with beetroot. We found $5 beneath our table and we were just enjoying our meal when a band started playing in the middle of the mall. It was really cool, but odd seeing as how it was a Monday afternoon. Also, beside us a woman was going into labor. She was completely red, holding her stomach and looking for a way to get to a car.

We headed back to the Cairns Colonial Club and Resort and hung out by the pool for a rest of the afternoon. At first there were just four of us, but people kept coming. The first pool had a cave with spa bubbles. We couldnt get it to work, but Eric finally did. We all ran to get in, but the water was very cold and not terribly relaxing. After a while we moved to the other pool, because it had food. We sat around for a while, then Sam came and he hadnt been swimming yet, so he got in and a bunch of us followed. Nanique, Sam, and I posed under the waterfall for a picture with Corys camera.

We got out and had dinner by the pool, then went back to the room to shower. Now, we have to try and pack our clean, damp clothes.

Nanique, Amy and Sam at our hotel in Cains

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