Floating in the Coral Sea, Al and I watch the sun set behind the hills as the sky picks up all the shades of pink. We discuss life with the ease of old friends when abruptly he stops mid-sentence, hesitates and asks, “Did you just see that?! What was that?! Something just jumped over the net.”. Whatever bogus safety we felt in the dark, between the three net walls protruding from the beach, swiftly evaporated and only a fear of losing a limb to a hungry crocodile remained as we made a less than graceful exit to land. So this is why Kev wouldn’t come with us…
Stopping in Cairns, Australia was a last minute decision. Without having the time in my schedule to see it all, I decided to skip it all together. But then a not-to-be-missed opportunity came up to dive the Great Barrier Reef so I sent an email to a former colleague asking her if she’d introduce me to her friends, Al & Kev, in Cairns. It’s always a bonus to get a locals advice and recommendations. Australian hospitality is infamous and yet I was still surprised when a reply arrived with an invitation to stay in their guest bedroom.
Crazy people, what were thinking? They had to base their decision on a few quick emails from me and a reference from my coworker. I would show up without a mode of transportation and a very vague plan of what I’d be doing with my time there. Clearly saints.
What was waiting for me north of Cairns was so much more than I could have ever expected. I was having such an amazing time with these guys, they ran the risk of me eating them out of house and home and overstaying my welcome; I was ready to move in and abandon the rest of my travels.
They carted me around, took me to their favorite spots, shared their stories, pictures and enthusiasm for this diverse corner of northern Australia, fed me, and even did my laundry. It was a treat to unpack my bag and be in a real home. It was a treat to be on beach, go for runs and hit the plunge pool afterwards. It was a treat to see the area from a locals eye. Every night we’d sit on their top floor balcony with a few beverages and talk the night away, which was the best treat of all.
Al is the photographer and adventurist. He braved the ocean nets so I could experience swimming in crocodile infested waters. Kev is the master chef (feeding anything from the birds to me) and the compassionate guy who will pull over to move a snake out of the road. Together they’re two of the most genuine, down to earth, loving and generous folks I’ve met on these travels. AnK hold a special place in my heart now and I only hope one day I’ll be able to return the generosity back in the States!
Teary goodbyes; Lots of hotness in this picture