This is the first day in Cairns. We have spent night in our hosts’ – Andrejs and Zita, garden. After breakfast Andrejs offers us to show the mangrove forest, which is quite unique as one of the few wild mangrove groves in the world that is protected bio reserve. The groves are so out-of-this-world and nothing like even Gunta has ever seen. We take some… ok, many pictures of crabs and weird fish with big eyes able to move outside water – the mudskipper fish. The mangroves are a real jungle and a bit scary. If there was no broad walk to guide us through the grove, one would definitely get lost in there. Andrejs shows us the black-widow-style spider who eats it’s male partners after they have stopped being useful. Despite occasional warm drizzle interchanging with scorching sun filtering through the vividly green canopy we have a great time in this weird place.
Afterwards Andrejs takes us to the city library which is not so boring as it sounds. As we realize this as soon as we get out of our cars. The noise is constant and the source is the main object that we have come to see – the flying foxes or the big fruit bats have besieged the nearby trees around the library. Although it’s daytime and theoretically the bats are supposed to be sleeping, it is a very noisy sleeping. There are thousands of them. It sounds like they argue and chat and love each other at the same time making quite a noise. Now I understand where the legends of vampires and batmen come from, because they really look like batmen silhouetted against Cairn’s cloudy sky.
Interestingly the parking areas under these trees are free of charge not like the surrounding parking places. Still by parking your car under these trees you are is risking getting your car pretty dirty. We also have a quick step in the library to check out Zita’s fabulous picture of the bats – a present to the library.
Afterwards we take a walk down the beach which is lovely but the public pool just beside it looks much more inviting. The latter lets you feel like being in some kind of exotic beach with white sand and clear turquoise water. We observe some more local birds which Andrejs is very familiar with and of which, I believe, Anders understands much more.
The day goes by quickly but on our way home we just have a run in the local botanical gardens where I first see in real life a pond of lotus flowers. No wonder the flower has a fame, it s really beautiful.
We return home to grab some quick lunch before heading for the local zoo suggested by our hosts. We arrive at the zoo just in time to see the end of the crocodiles feeding show. In one house the local workers are in the process of making the koalas mate but I guess none of the two koala boys was going to get lucky today as the koala girl was screaming something fierce every time any one of them tried their moves on her. Agnese and I battle our inner battles and quickly lose to quite expensive koala holding sessions, but how can one come to Australia and not hold a koala – the incarnation of peace and all the cuddly things one can imagine! Our lovely koala girl Keyla is patient and bears with us the brief photo session.
Afterwards we catch the bird show which reminds me a bit of a circus of trained birds, still impressive and we get to see the really big blue butterflies just flying around in their home habitat.
It’s time to visit and feed some kangaroos and wallabies. This is the first time in Australia that we get actually close to these creatures as in the wild you just get to watch them gracefully hopping away.
The zoo is just about to close so a quick peek at the pelicans and we are off.
On our way home we stop by the Palm Grove beach. The water here near the shore is not the clear blue we would expect, rather it is muddy light brown and the waves just make the water more like Baltic Sea beach. Well, ok… the waves probably are bigger and the water is definitely warmer. Here you are only allowed to swim in the area enclosed by nets, and a lifeguard on duty. Only Ilgonis and Emīls are going for a swim, but I opt for walking down the beach and taking in the wonderful scenery.
Since we started our road trip this is the first evening in a long time that we eat our dinner actually before the sunset. It is wonderful, we are sitting outside in our hosts’ garden and enjoying ourselves for some time before some of us go and meet Mr Aleksandrs Gārša – an honorary consul for Latvia and a lawyer. Anders and Rūdolfs opt for staying at home.
Glass of wine with Mr Gārša and his wife is very cordial. We have some Tasmanian wine and cheese as well as Australian strawberries.
After coffee which comes from highlands just outside of Cairns and a group photo we head back home.
Turns out that during day the rain has got inside our tent, it is wet and really not a good place to sleep in. So Agnese and I take up on hosts’ generous offer to stay in Zita’s studio. And that’s when I find out that this day was supposed to be written about by me. So here I am sitting down on the floor of Zita’s studio and frantically trying to remember another day full of new impressions. Need for sleep is overwhelming so I will let others to take over from here to write about next day and new adventures that, no doubt, await us.