I started writing this while sitting by Mike and Tanya’s all-natural (shall I dare call it organic?), filtered rainwater pool, which looks like it’s surrounded by a wild rainforest the way they have constructed the walls of rocks and plants along the deep end and towel shed. And yes, I am naked. I’m actually always naked, unless I’m working in the garden or on the roof. During my morning break, I tried to fry an egg in a little bit of olive oil and was extremely on edge about it. I stood at least a foot away from the stove, on my toes, so I could properly see into the pan and flip the damn thing without oil jumping out and sizzling my exposed body.
I realize I probably sound like a hippy, especially because I let the cat out of the bag and mentioned my unshaved armpits in my last post, but it’s actually very cool and peaceful here. Mike and Tanya are an older couple who’ve been living here for about 15 years. Mike is from east London, England, and Tanya is from the Ukraine. They own two salon and spas in town along the main strip in Airlie Beach and live here on about 5 acres of land, 25 kilometres outside the “downtown” core of Proserpine and Airlie Beach, which are both located on the mainland within the Whitsunday Region. They have room for about 10 people to stay with them but I don’t think they’ve ever had that many people come at once. They only take single girls or couples, no single men as no one wants them walking around poking things by accident. From 7am to 9:30am, we mostly work in the garden. It is HUGE with tons to be taken care of. My first day, I spent the first 20 minutes picking fresh, pink and red flowers for the flower displays at the spas (we actually start off every morning like this). I then went on to cut up the ginger that had grown way to high along the entrance to the driveway and then helped pick some weeds and throw large sticks and branches that had fallen from the trees into mulch piles. I have no idea what that means but I’m sure my grandmother would be very proud of me. I then tried to cook that egg. It was a success by the way. Afterwards we did some domestic work around the house: cleaning windows, the kitchen, vacuuming. We finish at noon and the rest of the day is ours. Four hours of work for free accommodation and food. And free rides into Airlie Beach. WE includes myself, a French couple from Paris, Léa and Yvan, and another French girl from Normandy, Alexia, who is all for the nudity. Léa is a little more nervous about it while Yvan won’t even take off his underwear in the house or his robe, even if it’s 30 degrees. Me? I’m actually all for it! I think the human body is the most beautiful piece of art ever created. Why hide it? And everyone’s looks so different. I think I’ve always liked to be nude though. One time when I was three or four, I was having dinner with my mother and father at the Mandarin when suddenly I stood up, pulled my pants down and ran around the restaurant. Just a casual, adorable toddler with a cute bum and an afro running around a Chinese buffet restaurant. As curious as I am though (aren’t me all?), I try not to stare at anyone and concentrate really hard on just looking them in the eyes when they talk to me, especially Mike since he’s literally like 65. But sometimes I’m just thinking to myself that’s different, or please don’t bend over, I’m right behind you.
The house is very cute and smells like your average old school cottage or camper. It’s really quiet here and I always wake to the sound of birds chirping or Mike’s booming British accent trying to get Tanya out of bed. I like to open the blinds in the morning and see the sun just peeking out over the horizon to start the day. I can’t really see much from my window though, the house is literally up a hill and in a bush (no pun intended). Everything is quite far. Even the bus stop is about 3-kilometres down the road. There are tons of wildlife and insects everywhere; lots of wallabies and lots of spiders. Both Léa and I have had nosey little ticks sneak their way in our skin and I usually feed the Bush (there’s that word again) Turkeys our compost in the morning. The garden is a tropical oasis of things, including grand coconut trees, mango trees and the entire town, as well as Airlie and Proserpine, are covered in sugar cane, the main industry up here in the Whitsundays Region (besides tourism of course). I’m staying just under three weeks in total. I would probably stay right up until my departure on August 15th if my flight wasn’t in Cairns and I hadn’t just booked a skydive over the reef there (eeeeeeekkkk!).
In the afternoons, if I’m not by the pool or tanning in the driveway where the sun hits perfectly just over the palm trees, I’m sitting with a coffee writing, having a nap, reading or am at the beach in Airlie. What a life, huh? I’m really enjoying being nude as well. I got used to it so quickly that I almost got in the car to go to Airlie without a shirt on once. It’s funny how I’ve gone from being extremely overdressed, to the point that I was suffocating in my clothing in the 42-degree weather of Rajasthan, India to being completely comfortable nude walking around in the humid ocean air off the coast of the Whitsunday Islands. The stories I'll have as an old lady are going to be fantastic. I can’t wait for the day my kids are old enough to complain about how odd their parents are with their friends. My kids will definitely win with “well my mom was a nudist in the Whitsundays. And shit her pants in the streets of Ghana”.
This past Friday, I took on a day of sightseeing around the Whitsunday Islands, including snorkelling on the north end of Hook Island, heading up to the inlet lookout at Whitehaven Beach and overall, cruising at top speeds of 50 – 70 km/h around the Whitsundays. I booked the tour with Ocean Rafting and I highly recommend them if you are looking for a one-day trip around the islands for an affordable price (and if you like speed). We left from Abel Point, just west of the Airlie Beach main strip. The boat accommodated about 25 people and the driver and tour leader were so much fun. Ross, with his dreamy green eyes and blond swaying-in-the-wind hair, was the ideal Aussie mate you expect to meet in Australia and was the most enthusiastic tour leader I think I’ve ever met. He was out there with us snorkelling with the GoPro and helping the few families with kids enjoy their day. Most of the other tourists were actually from Australia or Europe, including Sam, an adorable girl from the Netherlands, who I spent the day with throughout the cruise.
The boat left around 9:00am and we were soaking wet by 9:10am. The boat goes so quickly over these massive waves created by the wind and other boats driving out from the marina. We were airborne quite a few times, which followed by huge sprays of water leaping up over the boat and splashing right into our sunnies and into our lungs. We did a couple snorkelling stops but the first one was just incredible. As soon as I jumped into the water, I was greeted by hundreds of Blue Tang fish (or Dory fish if you are a Finding Nemo lover), all swaying along with the current. It was incredible. I hardly looked up to even see what was happening in front of me, as I was so fascinated with the fish swimming under and around me. I actually smashed my head into the boat a few times when I wasn't paying attention, which led me to ditching the snorkel and just swimming under. I think I screamed a few times underwater in pure terror though whenever a massive fish would swim by me. They were HUGE! My size HUGE! That’s massive for a fish! There were also these beautiful rainbow coloured little guys that would make you think you were having a psychedelic trip just looking at them. They stand out next to any other fish with their technic-colored skin and the shine that comes off them. You’d almost think they were covered in craft glitter gel. Definitely the Beyoncé’s of the sea.
We ended the afternoon on Whitehaven Beach, which is famous for the incredible swirls of crystal clear blue water and white sand along the inlet. We hiked up the hill for a good view and some pictures then headed down to have lunch on the sands and swim in the cool waters. While Sam and I started swimming out, a small shark passed us! And on the way back to Airlie, we spotted a mama whale and her baby heading south. They were so extremely close it was almost terrifying. Now, I know whales are big, everyone knows that, but when they are next to your boat and the boat looks tiny, and the boat is about 16-feet long, your jaw drops. I could not believe how close they got and how large they were.
It was such an unreal day out in the islands. Nothing will ever compare to how blue that water is and how many things are living within it. I don’t think I’ve ever spent that much time with ocean life…ever.
Sigh…two weeks to go and so much to see. In less than a week, I’m off to Cairns then, randomly, and not sure how I swung this one but Los Angeles, California for nine days!
Stay tuned to hear if I shit my pants, again, while skydiving over the reef.