Contrary to popular belief, I did not get eaten by a python. And no, I didn’t get bitten by a Funnel Web Spider. Unfortunately, the story of my absence is a lot less exciting. Four weeks ago the center switched internet networks. Consequently, the internet was out for a week, and when it came back on…the Holy Cross website was blocked. Of course the only college website that gets blocked would be Holy Cross. Due to this fact, I have been unable to upload a blog post and unable to access Star, Moodle, Crusader Connections, and anything HC related for the past month. Despite having access to internet in Cairns and Magnetic Island, my plans for those excursions prevented me from bringing my laptop and other electronics, which I will justify later.
In the past four weeks, a lot has transpired. To keep this post under novel length, I am going to touch upon the high points since my last post: homestay weekend, Cairns weekend, and Spring break.
At the end of week 6, homestay weekend was the perfect escape from the overload of field exercises and assignments that were due in the prior weeks. The homestay locations were split into what gender the families wanted: all boys, all girls, or mixed. Additionally, diet was an excluding factor. Vegetarians were specified as being optimal or non-optimal. In order to get placed with a family, we were given a list of descriptions and told to pick our top three choices. Luckily, I received my second choice, a relaxing two and a half day retreat on Lake Tinaroo doing water sports, swimming, and tanning. Well for me, it’s more like burning, but that’s beside the point. My homestay was three students, mixed, and vegetarians were non-optimal. On Friday, Kristen, Alan and I walked over to the Yungaburra bowls club in order to meet our homestay mom and dad, Paul and Leslie. Bowling in Australia is not the traditional American sport. This game is a mix of shuffleboard and bocce. The object is to roll the oval shaped balls as close to a marker as possible. You can knock your opponents’ bowling balls away from the marker in an attempt to get the most closest to the marker. Bowling is played by retirees (not a single person at the club was under the age of 55). Unfortunately, we didn’t get an opportunity to play.
Surprisingly, our homestay family ran a conference/retreat center. There were four housing blocks, a cafeteria, volleyball court, and an amazing view. The three of us were in our own room with a private bathroom and a lakeside view. It felt like paradise after roughing it in the rainforest for so long. Between playing elimination trumps, kneeboarding, tubing, swimming, and touring the lake in the boat, not to mention the food (sausage, oxtail soup, and chicken salad wraps), I did not want to go back to the center. Rather, I wanted the Warrawee Center to be the Lake Tinaroo Conference Center instead.
Two weeks later, Easter weekend, started the most anticipated trip of the semester, Spring break. For Spring break, me and 17 other students headed out to Magnetic Island, which is a 30 minute ferry ride north of Townsville. Unfortunately, Easter weekend meant everything was booked, so we were unable to rent a house. Regardless, we all stayed at Base Backpackers, a hostel right on the beach. After the 6 hour bus ride and 30 minute ferry ride, we made it to the island on Good Friday, which is a national holiday in Australia (Easter Sunday and Good Friday are reversed in AU). The next three days were absolutely incredible partially because the weather was perfect. We laid on the beach, rock jumped into open ocean during stinger season, jet skied, slept on the beach, and rented scooters. Going 70 mph over water on a jet ski was some of the most fun I have ever had. Not to mention riding a scooter with 14 other people exploring the island. Our “scooter gang” took up 3 full parking spots and was a formidable force on the roads topping out at 55 kmph. I highly recommend renting from Road Runner Rentals. 45 dollars for 24 hours with 2 dollars of gas cost. Hands down the best deal on the island, and no waiting for the bus. Although I didn’t get to spend Easter with my family, I had my SFS family by my side. I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to live, explore, and study abroad with.
The only thing that could have made our return from Spring break worse, finals. The 2 days following our arrival back at Warrawee we took final exams. As a reward for cramming a semesters worth of information for 3 classes in 1 day, we went to Cairns at the end of week 9. Sunday, I booked snorkeling for a full day on Green Island. At 9:00 a.m., the 10 of us were shuttled out to the island to get our stinger suits and snorkeling masks. Unfortunately, the wind was extremely strong, which made the water unusually choppy. However, we still saw and swam with Sea Turtles, Black Tipped Reef Sharks, and hundreds of fish. The water was clear enough to see straight to the bottom. It was a sight I will not soon forget. Eating lunch on the island, taking ridiculous pictures with our stinger suits on, and witnessing the plethora of fish and coral made for a special day. With our second Cairns weekend in the history books, it was time to get down to work, directed research.
This post is already much longer than it should be, but I want to say that I left my computer behind for Cairns and Magnetic Island because of damage risk. Between the sand, water, and potential theft while at the hostel/lack of attendance while snorkeling, the cons outweighed the pros of bringing it along. Many computers have already broken at the center due to the moisture. Therefore, I have to be extremely cautious with mine because of its importance since our independent directed research projects are in full swing.
Francis DeLeo '14