I figured I’d post at least one more Oz post before my surgery. Since my trip is serving as my escapism from reality, my memories a mechanism for coping with my fears. Besides I’ve begun my liquid diet, I think it only fitting that I talk about the food, Oh, God, the FOOD. Sorry where was I? Yes, the morning after (in keeping with my organized chronologic storytelling plans).
TR and I went to the Brisbane airport to pick up her boys. We had some time to kill before flying to Cairns. TR’s boys had become little men since I’d seen them last. They were practically as tall as I am.
(oh and I met up with Noice again. He was flying for home, his guys weekend over. I continuing on with my adventure. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit it tickled me that he wanted to keep in touch and see me again in the morning light. In fact I pondered whether a quickie in the airport would be possible. Then it wouldn’t constitute as a one night stand. Just saying.) Anyhoo, back to the boys……
They just returned from camp, one in Malaysia, the other Thailand. Living abroad affords them all sorts of opportunities others might not have. They gave us the scoop of their recent adventures. There were the Hmong people that kidnap a girl as an engagement/3 day marriage trial period, the dog that wouldn’t stop humping everyone’s legs and the girl Hassie (TR’s eldest) saved from certain demise over a cliff edge, only to highlight a few.
Once in Cairns we got the rental car and made our way, on the opposite side of the road to the condo. TR drove. A good thing, I fear I’d have done much worse than simply using the windshield wipers instead of the turn signal.
During our night out in Brisbane one of the gals we met was from Cairns. She let us know the winds were ripping all the time despite what anyone told us. That the surf was a cloudy mess, full of salt water crocs and stingers (jellies for you Americans). Now I knew there were sharks in these waters, but Crocs, Good god!! She also said the condo wouldn’t be nearly as spectacular as pictured in the brochure. This was the only thing she got wrong. Villa Beach was beautiful.
We only had an hour to hit the market before it closed and stock up for the week and figure out dinner. So TR and I left the boys to get on the shoddy internet. We hoped they would quit twitching from withdrawal. Kids these days are truly dialed into social media, almost like a respirator. Now at the market my love affair with Australia increased yet again.
It began with the gorgeous men, then the fabulous women, the scenery which is frankly unbeatable and well now? Now the food had me completely unhinged. They have Curly Whirlys. Probably doesn’t mean much to most of you. But it is only my favorite candy bar, one not available in the US. I have to go to Canada or find a British grocery which honestly is usually out of stock in order to satisfy a craving.
Again it is trite to describe TR and me as kids in a candy store, but it can’t be helped. We literally were, stocking up everything for the week and more. All the boys’ favorite candies were here-Crumble, Penguins, the mandatory Tim Tams (the caramel is my fav BTW. DT² insisted I drink coffee through one). It was an American grocery store combined with English grocery and lots of Australian goodness to make the choices plentiful. Honestly we didn’t win any parent of the year or role model awards filling up the cart.
What delighted me most was I could find so many gluten free and specialty snacks that I could eat, including a cracker and oat free granola. They had coconut/almond milk. Hell, I could get coconut lattes in most Australian Cafes. Here I have to drink Americanos or Long Blacks as they call them for lack of an option. Aussie’s are healthy eaters and everything, I do mean EVERYTHING, is superbly fresh. For our first dinner we decided on Indian food. It was on sale, easy to heat up. The deli even had Cauliflower cakes. Again a side I can eat that I never find at home. They were delicious with Tikka Masala. (A side note: Hassie is determined to marry an Indian girl since Indian food is his favorite. No wonder they say the way to a man’s heart is …….His mom and I are trying to convince him he should broaden his horizons. Any woman could learn to cook Indian. He remains unconvinced.)
We knew we’d have to bring the boys back later in the week and stock up goodies to take home, which we definitely did. TR even froze steaks since the meat in Singapore leaves a little to be desired. And as a matter of fact my last solid food prior to my 48 hour liquid diet for surgery was in fact two curly wurlys. I know for shame. But if it ends up to be my last meal I won’t be sorry.
Now I could go on and on and on about the food. Hamburgers with Beet root and sautéed onions, Fuck yes! And the fruit plate?!! Okay, you order a bowl of fruit in the US and you get a cup, perhaps a little parfait dish, with Cantaloupe and honeydew, a few questionable red grapes and god forbid there actually be a piece of Pineapple. It’s like striking gold.
In Australia the fruit bowl is in fact a bowl. It’s teeming with the freshest most gloriously juicy fruit ever-Melons yes, but also kiwi, berries of all kinds, banana, mango, pineapple, watermelon. And the entire thing is drizzled in honey with a side of yogurt. They know how to eat.
Even their white bread kicks ass. It is fluffy and huge, toasts perfectly. I actually dream of PB&Js made from their bread. As a kid I wouldn’t even need the crusts cut off.
Now when I travel I much prefer renting a condo then staying in a hotel. I like to be able cook and do laundry. And frankly TR is a fabulous chef. She came to visit me after my first surgery and we had a terrific time cooking up coconut flour tortillas for fajitas and all other sorts of concoctions for my new found allowable diet.
Actually she’s a bit of an inspiration to me. I suppose since I never had kids I never needed to hone my multitasking skills like she has. She says it comes from being ADD as a child and the need to find ways to stay organized so she could keep up with her peers. Well, now she is a superwoman. I can’t believe her husband’s let her get away. Morons!!! But I like to think that about mine as well. Well, I do. HA!!
The first morning I began what would become my ritual, walking on the beach to greet the sunrise. I fell in love yet again. I’d be remiss to say I didn’t take wide berth of the areas with the Caution croc signs. But every morning brought with it a new splendor.
Day one, after my beach walk and breakfast of course, we took off to explore, headed to Port Douglas for the afternoon. Along the winding coastal drive we found a beach full of rocks. I sat digging wondering if Australia had Agates, my childhood beachcombing ritual.
I of course slipped on the large black rock formations-my flip-flops disagreeing with the wet surface. Somehow I over estimated their sturdiness and perhaps mine as well- a little blood on my ankle, but thankfully nothing more. This could have been way worse. I’m not as agile or as strong as I once was, so the surf proved to my knee later on in the week.
Australia is beautiful but tough. There are a million things that seek to kill you. I have never felt so strong, as alive as I did there. It is amazing to be faced with your capacities and to push the limits of your strength and reserve.
Frankly with all my activities I am shocked my colon didn’t twist around. By the end of my trip I hoped it would. I wanted to be rushed into emergency surgery. Then I’d be in Australia for my month recovery.
TR’s youngest (Big Fish) wasn’t as lucky as me. He caught his foot in a crack crossing the street and went down hard. We were unsure if he broke his wrist as it and his hand began to puff up. We sought out medical attention, an ace bandage and ice to mitigate the swelling.
Now the fear became that he wouldn’t be able to go diving at the Great Barrier Reef. All three of them are certified divers and as Big Fish informed me, THIS was his lifelong dream. At 13, 11 years is a huge chunk of time. Ever since watching Finding Nemo it’d become his goal. He had to achieve it.
On the ride back Hassie was sharing story about being able to bare pain. As Big Fish was in a good deal of it, naturally sibling rivalry flared at his mother’s pointed out his younger brother was better then him at handling pain. His story consisted of seeing how long you could hold still as your friends’ poured hot wax on your hand. Hassie had lasted the longest. From the back seat Big Fish said, “Why?” direct and matter of fact. I pointed out that there was no doubt a girl involved and he wanted to show his prowess beat out the other guys. Again Big Fish said “WHY?” Honestly, this pretty much summed it up- brains versus brawn.
Once we got to the condo we poured ourselves one of the many terrific Shiraz we would partake over the week. We grilled up some steaks. TR whipped up a Caprese salad to go on top. She even deseeded the tomatoes for her highness. Yes me, the princess and the pea of tomatoes (texture issues). We fell asleep as we had the night before to the sound of the ocean waves, the fan tenderly caressing our skin. We needed to be up bright and early for our first day at the Great Barrier Reef.