Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Village Life

Yesterday we went to a traditional Indonesian village. We were standing by the side of the road, trying to figure out where the bus-stop was, when a car pulled up. Two men stepped out and offered to take us there. Their names were Elfis and Nobbi. We got in the car and headed up through a bumpy, winding road, while Elfis and Nobbi watched music videos by this elderly Christian guy. They seemed to have an endless supply of them. We eventually ended up at the foot of a steep hill, which we trudged up, ending up at a small village of traditional houses with thatched roofs and no walls. We were greeted by the village leader, who dressed in original garb and showed us his spears, machete, and bow and arrows. We were then led to where the women had set up their various necklaces, bracelets and baskets for sale. They were all basically the same thing, and most of them showed signs of being produced in a factory. My mum however, bought four baskets that we didn't actually need, and my dad bought a wooden spoon. It was interesting to see just how isolated they were. They had their own pigs and chickens, and they grew most of their own food. After we had been waved off, we took Elfis and Nobbi out for lunch. For the five of us to have huge lunches, plus drinks, only cost about eight dollars. The food was quite spicy, to me, but I soldiered on, until being informed that this was 'mild' for Indonesia. After being dropped off near the harbour, Elfis asked for money. We had paid for gas and food, and they hadn't said anything about money at first. We had hoped they were just being friendly, and showing their country to foreigners. Despite that, we had had a wonderful day and it was fascinating to learn about the traditional lifestyle. (My dad also bought a machete at from a market on the way home, for chopping up coconuts, and declared that it made him feel 'manly').

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Visiting the Alors

Today, we are heading to Alor Island, part of the Alor archipelago. We plan to spend six weeks slooooowly heading up to Bali. We have about fifteen or sixteen travel days. When we were sailing up the coast of Australia, we were moving every day. But now, we're going to spend roughly four weeks just lazing about. Scuba diving, snorkelling, swimming, hiking, exploring, talking to locals, going to markets . . . These are all things we just didn't have time for, in Australia. We had a normal life, school, work, circus and friends took up all our time. We had such a wonderful time in Australia, but I'm really excited about this new part of our voyage. The area of the archipelago that we're going to is newly protected by the locals, and is just taking off as a scuba diving spot. There are also several traditional villages that we're hoping to visit. We have about a week in the Alor Islands, which to me sounds like an insane amount of time. It should be fun though, and I'm looking forward to exploring Indonesia.

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Friday, October 17, 2014

First Impressions of Indonesia

First Impressions of Indonesia

Walking the streets of Kupang for the first time was interesting, shocking and wonderful. As me and my tall parents passed the crowds of small Indonesians, loads of the boys or young men whistled and shouted. At first we thought it was because we were the only white people in the mass of people. But we soon realised that they weren’t talking to us. They were talking to my legs and my mum’s cleavage. I was wearing my usual outfit, shorts and a t-shirt. My mum was wearing a long dress that wouldn’t be considered low-cut in Australia, but it was here. Together, we scandalised the town.

Today, I wore a knee length dress with a highish neck-line. My mum wore a similar one. We still got some shouts, but people were talking to us. They were looking at our faces and asking our names. They would touch our hair and smile happily. And it made me feel like dirt. I completely understand the need to be respectful of other people’s cultures and religions, but when people think that the way I dress influences me as a person? That confuses me so much. I dress to be comfortable in the heat. I dress in a way that makes me feel good about myself. However, when I show my legs or shoulders and that makes people view me as if in exposing my body, they somehow own me, that makes me embarrassed and angry. It seems as if in wearing shorts, my body becomes separate from me. I also think, that if they want to stare at me and judge me for my un-modest outfit, that says more about them then it does about me. I wish I could be someone who laughs it off. But I’m not. It hurts when people judge me and shout and whistle. I’m thirteen. I’m still a kid. And I don’t want to have to think first about how others will see me if I wear a particular outfit.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Two Fish

TODAY I CAUGHT TWO FISH!!!!!!!!!! TWO!!!! I KNOW!!!!!!!! Seeing as the last fish I caught was a three inch long sunfish when I was 7, I’m pretty proud. We’re in Alcaro Bay and we’ve stopped for a day. Not because it was windy, not because we had to repair something but because we met a lovely couple who encouraged us to stay. Their names were Ted and Des and when we arrived in the anchorage, they promptly zipped over in their dinghy to tell us about Darwin and give us advice. We joked about running out of food but it turned out they had stocked up for six months and insisted we come for breakfast. I think we might have eaten an entire pig. There were sausages and pork chops and bacon and hash browns, baked beans, toast and eggs. Impressive. 

We went to shore to walk off our breakfast and when we came back all of fifteen minutes later; Ted and Des were fishing and had already caught about fifteen fish. There were a few big fish which they kept and lots of medium ones that they tossed back or flung on shore for the big sea eagles which inhabited the shore. When they tossed fish on shore, an eagle would swoop down immediately and, not stopping, grasp the fish in its talons and fly away to enjoy its treat in privacy. They offered to let me try so I thought what the heck, might as well. 

Now, I’ve always been the bad luck fisherman. When I’m around, nobody catches anything. My mum’s the same. So, naturally I was surprised when 20 seconds after tossing my line in, I caught a fish (Wooo-hoooooo!!). Excitement. After about five more minutes I caught the biggest fish of the day. I named it Doris. Doris was a goodly fish. She was about 6 pounds. After chopping off Doris’s head, my mum spotted a mud crab. A big one. Ted and Des claimed it was tiny but I don’t believe them. Ted grabbed his weighted throwing net thingamajig and after a few tries, caught it. And immediately gave it to us, because apparently, they were sick of crab. So we got three fish and a crab and a wonderful friendship which sounds really soppy and sentimental but I don’t care. So, good day.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Lizard Island

I've been busy. On Saturday, we went on a rough sail and then a long snorkel. On Sunday, we went on a 4.4km hike up 1000ft of elevation. At 8am. Without breakfast. UP TO A CAPTAIN COOK LOOKOUT. As some of you might already know, I have a grudge against Captain Cook. When we were crossing the South Pacific, we sailed where Cook had sailed, anchored where Cook had anchored and walked where Cook had walked. By the end of it, I was officially DONE, with Cook. So it was with great pleasure that I thought (foolishly, mistakenly) that we were ACTUALLY done with Cook. But it was not to be. Sailing up to Darwin, we've been to the town of 1770, where Cook was. We've been to CookTOWN (the name seems self explanatory). And now we're leaving Lizard Island where Cook spotted a path through the Great Barrier Reef

But back to my busy life. On Sunday, we also went scuba diving. On Monday, we walked 6km in the sun with no shade, in soft, black, BURNING HOT sand to the Lizard Island Research Center that offers a place for university students and scientists to study and research the Barrier Reef. Sadly, this March, a Category 5 cyclone ripped through Lizard Island and the surrounding reef. The cyclone spent 11hrs over the small island where it devastated what once was spectacular coral and all the vegetation on the island. It's difficult for the coral to bounce back because it's facing additional pressures such as the Crown of Thorns starfish and bleaching due to the ocean temperatures rising.

It was clear just how much damage the cyclone and us humans had caused to the reef. Instead of the huge bommies made entirely out of various types of coral in a rainbow of colours, which you see in postcards of the Great Barrier Reef, it was seaweed covered rock with the occasional small, bleached piece coral dotting the wall. However it was a bit of a mixed bag, with a barren wall for a few meters and a thriving reef for the next few feet. The good news is that the fish population was looking great, which is wonderful to see because many people fish on the edges of the no-take zones, claiming that the protected areas 'just don't work'.

Anyway, we just left Lizard Island and it's a bit rough so I'm sitting in our desk chair rolled back and forth across the boat and TRYING to get this written. But finally I've succeeded. Yay!!! Bye until next time!!!

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Thursday, September 04, 2014

The Daintree

Yesterday we went to the Daintree Rainforest. It's the oldest rainforest in the world.We took a shuttle to the edge of the forest and then set off to explore the huge tropical wonder. As we entered the densely packed trees, the air immediately cooled down and the light was dimmed. Supposedly, the rainforest is home to a number of cassowaries, a huge emu-like bird with a curved horn on the top of their head. They're apparently quite aggressive, even attacking the unwary tourist. Sadly, we didn't see any. We had considered bringing the cat as bait for the cassowary, but decided, seeing as we're quite fond of him, to keep him for the crocodiles instead. We went on a steep hike up a mountain and once we were sufficiently warm, plunged into a freezing mountain river. Said river, was cold, had a swift current and lots of smooth boulders plunked into the middle of the river. Still, it was the perfect way to bring your body temperature down after a lovely hike. The river was called the Mossman River and was part of the part of the Daintree Rainforest in Cairns. ( And you can't pronounce it 'Care-ins', it must be 'Cans' ). So that's my most recent 'adventure'.
A suspension bridge over the Mossman River


Just cause I can

This tree got a bit confused . . .


Monday, August 25, 2014

Abbot Point

Abbot Point

Yesterday we passed Abbot Point. The long pier, that allows ships to collect coal, extends 1.5 miles off shore. Abbot Point is a large coal port that contributes significantly to the huge amount off coal getting shipped out off Australia each year. However, one pier is clearly not enough. Why have only one, when you could have two? Or three? So that’s what they’re doing. They’re going to dredge off Abbot Point so that the water will be deep enough for two more piers. The dredge spoil will be dumped on or near coastal coral reefs or sea grass beds. However they’re not really taking into account the fact that dredge spoil spreads. It doesn’t just sink immediately; it spreads and can smother and kill many marine habitats. Also, areas like the sea grass beds are a large source of food for animals like dugongs and turtles.
Gladstone is also undergoing a building boom
 Now, for my opinion. I think that the people who are justifying all this as okay, are either seriously misinformed, crazy, or just don’t care. I’ve spent more than half my life at sea, watching hundreds of animals play near our boat. When we first arrived, we didn’t snorkel on any reefs. And then we were in Brisbane for two and a half years and none of us really wanted to swim in the Brisbane River. But now we’ve snorkeled on a few reefs in Australia and I know that the level of sea life we’re seeing isn’t healthy. Because I’ve snorkeled on lots of reefs outside of Australia and while I don’t have data and notes, I think I can tell a little bit about whether reefs are healthy. We have seen no sharks. No large fish. None of the signs of a healthy, well balanced reef. And it makes me want to cry.

We’re seeing a reasonable amount of turtles and whales when at sea and in anchorages, but no signs of life on the reefs. We’re heading more into the Great Barrier Reef area, so I’m hoping that there’s life. The largest coral reef in the world is starting to die. And unless we do something, we’re going to see it end.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Ceilydh: Trapped in the . . . Well, Just Stuck

We arrived in Refuge Bay just over a week ago, planning to spend a few days in the anchorage, deciding where to haul out the boat. We're. Still. Here. We didn't stay because it was pretty or we met nice people. We stayed because the wind is blowing roughly 30 knots and we didn't like the look of the waves. It's funny though, we're refuges from the wind in Refuge Bay. The beaches here are strewn with coral, the forest is dense and inaccessible, and, we are, the only boat here. We went for a quick swim on the reef yesterday, and while it was healthy and beautiful, it was also stinking cold. We're going snorkelling on it again today. Why? Because there's not much else to do. But, I must admit the view from the boat is lovely and it was wonderful to see such a healthy, colourful reef. There's also lots of sea life. There's Yrtle the Turtle, Helvetica the Lobster and Melanie the Soft Shell crabby snaily shell-like-thing. And of course we mustn't forget Daisy, the sleazy, villainous dolphin responsible for all the muggings and robberies in the area. And for those of you that are no doubt wondering, no, being stuck in an isolated, windy anchorage has not made me lose my mind. It's just done something strange to my creative streak.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Five year crusiversiry

The 23rd of July was our 5th crusiversiry. In two more months, I’ll have lived on a boat for half my life (I was born on my parents’ first boat). I’ve grown a bit since we left in the July of 2009 (where did that cute little 7 year old we left with go?) and I’ve met many amazing people. I’ve swum with sea lions in the U.S, I’ve wandered through sun baked desert in Mexico, I’ve foraged for fruit in the Marquesas, I’ve dove in crystal clear water in the Tuamotus and I’ve gone to school in Australia. I’ve done more than I could possibly dream of doing. And the best part? My parents and my cat, Charlie, have been along for every step of the way. Here are some photos of every year on the water.

The year we left and now

The Gulf Islands

Christmas baking
Australia Zoo

Starting school

Leaving Brisbane

The Enchanted Butterfly Forest

Trees filled with gently fluttering butterflies, sunlight shining through their gossamer wings . . .  Lovely fantasy, right? Well it turns out that in the town of 1770, they really do have a butterfly forest. The town is home to hundreds of blue tiger butterflies. We were going on a hike up to see where Captain Cook’s ship, the Endeavour, sailed in, in, you guessed it, 1770. As we were walking, we noticed a few bright blue butterflies. We kept walking and burst into a butterfly blizzard. Not exaggerating in the slightest. The trees were hung with butterflies. They looked like strange, exotic fruit. There was a deep gully just off the path and at the bottom, trees that were so thick with butterflies, the trees looked dead, the butterflies disguised as dead leaves. I managed to scramble down the dusty incline with the camera and snapped a few pictures. Ta-da! 
Our first glimpses of the butterflies . . .
Butterfly Blizzard!
More butterflies . . .

Hundreds of butterflies adorned the trees . . .

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Back on the Water

After two and a bit years in the beautiful city of Brisbane, we have officially left to seek new and exciting adventures, which, I, the author, shall tell you, the reader about in this blog. Are you excited yet? If you aren’t, TOO BAD! BECAUSE I AM!! Brisbane was lovely but I think I speak for my entire family when I say we are insanely glad to leave.

Charlie the cat, however, is rather annoyed that we’ve left the comfortable place that he grew to love. He’s also irritated about the whole motion thing and we’ve had to explain to him that when you SAIL, you MOVE. He’s improving everyday though. He doesn’t run and hide when the engine starts but just lies on the couch looking upset. The other day I’m pretty sure he was laughing at my dad and I when we went to clean the bottom of the boat in fourteen degree water. When we got out, we were shivering so badly we were having trouble walking and it was quite a while before we thawed out. 

We are currently sailing through the Great Sandy Straights and it will be quite awhile before we leave Australia. I’ll be starting homeschooling in a week or two and I’m quite excited to start chemistry and quantum physics. I’ll also be doing the novel study of Coraline and the film study of Spirited Away, (part of the same curriculum as my Aussie friends!).  I’ll continue to post on my blog as much as possible. Bye!!

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Leaving Brisbane

 Our time in Brisbane has been a little over two years. Some might say that that's not very long in the grand scheme of things. To me however, it's been a lifetime. I gathered an amazing group of friends.
So, Dara, Kathleen, Evangeline, Emelyn, Loz, Lily, Bianca and Chloe, this post is for and about the wonderful gift you gave me when you became my friends. I haven't even left yet but already I miss you like crazycakes, (and all the other wonderful, special, beautiful friends I've made here). When I first got here, I was a geeky, (still am), awkward, strange, lonely, scared and shy kid who had been confident in her own environment but confronted with a new life, retreated into my shell. My friends have transformed me and I just want you to know how much I love them for it and for their weird and wacky personality. I'm crying as I write this, my babycakes, my small, blonde, drowned rat, my Romollo, my confused green blondie, my adorably giggling friend, my weirdo that is Chloe, my Kafweenie and my smart-as Bianca. I will miss you unbearably and as I hugged my friends for the last time tonight, I know I'll see you all one day. Stay weird, stay short, stay confused, stay creepy, stay hyper, stay smart, stay romantic and stay wonderful. I miss you.  


Sunday, April 14, 2013

I’m Baaack!

G’day mates! I haven’t posted in a while and for that I’m truly sorry. I’ve been very busy, you know, running a joke shop, circus, horse camp, all the normal things.

To start with I am very proud to announce that my friends and I have started a joke shop! Jokes Via Ceilidh. We sell shock pens, fake gum, fake pencils and fake blood. Real wide variety, isn’t it? We have made (let me add this up) a grand total of (that can’t be right) $2.20. Oh. Well that was just the profit!

What next . . . (Let me consult my notes) Ahhhhh, yes, Circus! Well I have been moved to (drum roll) 7 hours a week! 3 times a week. I am learning cloud swing, a type of rope that is suspended from both ends. You do all sorts of tricks on it.

And finally, Kiah Park Horse Camp. I was there for a week. I rode a sweet black mare called Minty for most of the week; but she was so stubborn that I rode a lovely chestnut gelding called Zumba for the rest of the week. Zumba and I took 4th in barrels, bounce pony and horsemanship. We got 3 ribbons that looked very handsome around his neck. We went swimming in the dam, I was so cold, my teeth were literally chattering. There was a flying fox where you would go skimming across the surface of the water like a skipping stone.

I’m in 7th grade now and I’m the vice captain of my school house. (I get a badge and a-a-a, well I get the badge). That’s pretty cool cause I’m a school leader and I get to boss around all the little kids! (No, not really). Anyways I will post again soon and so long for now!

Friday, July 06, 2012

My Day as a Zookeeper

this is a barn owl called Milo

this is a wedge tailed eagle called Omega

this is a sea eagle called Illuka

This is a barn owl called smudgee

This is Tanami the dingo

 me and Utopia the koala
utopia agaian

Hello again. It's been a while. Yesterday I went to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and took part in their 'junior zoo keeper for a day' program. We got to learn about animals such as platypuses, dingos, cockatoos, koalas, and many other types of birds. We made clay toys with nuts stuck in them for the cockatoos to play with and eat. We cuddled koalas, held barn owls and pet barking owls. We cleaned the dingos enclosure and hid bits of meat for them. We sorted through meal worms and earth worms for a tasty lunch for Barak the platypus. It was a very full day. I had a very good time (even though I had to get up a 6:45, blargggg!). The employees all took very good care of the animals and they obviously love them a lot. The Koalas were sleepy and cuddly and would snuggle up against you. The dingos were excitable and happy and leaped to greet you. The Platypus was energetic and could stay underwater for over 2 minutes! We fed kangaroos and looked at tiny joeys. I thought it was a great program and I really enjoyed myself.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Life in Brisbane

Hello everybody who reads my blog!
I'm sorry I haven't been blogging lately. I've been pretty busy. I am now in school at New Farm State School in Brisbane as some of you may know. I have to wear a uniform (arggg!). 

It is much different from home school. The bell for the start of school rings at 8:35 am and the going home bell rings at 3:00 pm. I used to get up at 8:35! Things are busy and my mom is writing a book so the whole family is working hard. We were recently in Airlie Beach on a trip with my dad. We got a TV in our hotel room which was extremely exciting. (When you haven't watched TV in almost 3 years watching TV is thrilling). 

 We also went to Moreton Bay with our good friends Totem. While there we went surfing down the big sand dunes on boogy boards and we had an Easter egg hunt on shore. Good bye for now and happy belated Easter.