Absence makes the heart grow fonder?

Sorry for the radio silence. I’ve been spoiled by free cousin wi-fi in Sydney and Canberra, and the harsh reality of paying for it per minute in Cairns has led to some pre-written words here. So, look out for some photos of my Cairns highlights this weekend. I’m definitely looking forward to the reported near-ubiquity of free wi-fi in much of SE Asia… where I guess I’ll already be situated next week!

Cairns has been great. I’ve accomplished some serious highlights here! I’ve snorkeled and scuba-ed in the Great Barrier Reef, where I even got to pet some enormous friendly fish. I also got rained on in the Daintree rainforest and went crocodile-spotting on the river. I drank some rainforest tea and ate some rainforest-flavored ice creams. I’ve also had enormous bats swoop past my head, widely furling out their wings into the distinctive Batman/vampire symbol. When there are thousands passing over your head at night, as if on a night sky bat conveyor belt, it really does feel a little spooky. And today… today, I cuddled a koala!! Don’t I look happy? 🙂

     

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Eating kangaroo

Originally, I wasn’t in favor of eating such an adorable national symbol. I mean, I was brought up to not eat cute foreign animals like koalas and kangaroos. It just didn’t seem right. But I keep seeing kangaroo meat in grocery stores, and, more importantly from my own perspective, I keep seeing them as road kill- struck by cars and laying dead at the side of the road. This made me realize that they’re basically the equivalent of deer in the US Midwest. They’re not rare or endangered, they’re not protected, and they’re certainly not sacred. And they cause a lot of car accidents! So, that brought them down from cute national icon level to common animal level. And from there, I guess it’s only a short leap to “potential food”. So, keeping in mind that Benjamin Franklin originally suggested the turkey as America’s national symbol (and we certainly don’t hesitate to eat them!), I decided it would be okay for me to try kangaroo meat this one time. You can see Robyn cooking the kangaroo meat on the barbie (above left)- next to the tasty onions and sausages.

Kangaroos!!!!

We went to a local park in Canberra, and even though I have much more to post about Sydney, I just had to cut in and show you these amazing kangaroos!  They let us get fairly close, which was amazing.  It’s so interesting to see animals in the wild that you’re conditioned to think of as zoo animals.

 With the exception of the one reclining kangaroo, the others were all just standing around at dusk, hanging out. There were some joeys with their mothers, and as we walked towards them, they usually moved away a bit, so I just stood still and took photos after I got close enough. I’m so used to seeing videos/animation of kangaroos hopping on those large back legs that it was a little surprising to see them move forward by putting weight on those little front legs like any other 4-legged animal would.

They were silent, though, so I don’t know what sounds they make to communicate with each other. That’s one to google. But I like to imagine that they’re gossiping to each other in cockney accents, while scratching their bellies and chewing grass… and maybe burping.