Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Quakka for Daaaaaays!
Whew! What a stinkin weekend! I had several friends who met my excitement over my trip to “Rottnest Island” with skepticism and disgust, mainly due to the unappealing and unfortunate title of the island. However, there is an explanation that makes the island’s unappetizing name tolerable. No, the island does not have a bad case of putrid fungus or rancid food (rot), but instead has an infestation of lovable Quokka. Imagine a fuzzy, adorable, friendly, playful, miniature kangaroo. Got it? Alright that image in your head is a Quokka. Phenomenal right? Now imagine that they are literally
EVERYWHERE on the island, hopping to their hearts content and constantly making new friends due to their bouncy, tame, and friendly nature. Schweet! It sounds like Mark Jansa’s dream come true! Anyhoo, back to the name of Rottnest. Early settlers of the island thought that the delightful, lovable Quokka were actually horrid, oversized rats (how they made this drastic error in judgment is inconceivable to me) and therefore named the island “Rat’s Nest” Island. However, due to their AWESOMELY thick Australian accent, the pronunciation was interpreted as Rottnest, effectively giving the gorgeous island a rather foul name. Anyhoo, after hittin the hay early on Friday night in order to rest up, we awoke bright and early at 6 AM to prepare for our island adventure getaway and catch the 7:15 Rottnest Express Ferry. I packed my travel backpack full of food for the weekend (carrots, apples, canned tuna, peanut butter, and approximately 40 pre-made francakes) and headed out for our weekend adventure. Upon arriving, we immediately stashed most of our gear in a rented locker (with the exception of my massive, heavy backpack due to lack of space in the locker) and wandered over to the bike rental shop. We all snagged some sweet one size fits all (except for 6’3 males) bikes, all equipped with fantastic handlebar bells and no gears (the good ol’ single speed brought back a pang of nostalgia for childhood). However, the bikes, while simple and basic, proved themselves to be absolutely brilliant throughout our weekend and were a stellar investment. On the other hand, I was absolutely devastated upon realizing that my bell was malfunctioning and did not deliver a crisp, loud ring, but instead a dull click. How disappointing. Thankfully, my broken bell is the only thing that comes to mind in terms of complaints about the weekend, everything else was beyond spectacular. We decided to take a scenic ride around the entire island on the challenging but gorgeous hilly oval loop. We pedaled to our hearts content, taking occasional breaks to snap pictures of our unbelievable surroundings. The island was truly a tropical paradise, the views were awe-inspiring, the water was breathtakingly clear, and the hills were covered with windswept trees, isolated lakes, and rocky cliffs that emitted powerful roars from the unrelenting crashing waves. My pathetic excuse for descriptive writing could never come close to accurately portraying the amazing scenic beauty we witness, and although my pictures are far less than perfect, they’ll have to do for now.
After completing our loop around the island, along with a few side expeditions for further island exploration, we checked into our little cabin and sat down for a minute to rest our weary, but content bodies. Next thing we knew, all of us had slipped into a powerful and delightful coma. Following our long nap, we meandered down to a lovely waterfront restaurant to grab some food (I gobbled down some flavorful canned tuna instead). We then casually strolled back to our humble abode, where we spent the night playing outrageous games and drinking copious amounts of alcohol. I must comment that our group (consisting of my self, one other fine gentleman, and 5 lovely ladies) was a fantastic collection of human beings who were great to spend a weekend with. What a fantastic day!
We awoke early the next morning to some nagging hangovers, but a gloriously nice day outside awaiting us, fresh eager quokkas greeting us at our door, and some seriously sore butts (none of us had thought to slip on our luxurious and elegant diaper shorts that bikers often wear). We grubbed on some quick snacks (FRANCAKES), walked down to the bike shop to return our well-used bikes, and headed out on foot for an island hike in the beautiful Australian sunshine. We trekked aimlessly over the lush island, passing many more spectacular views and dazzling beaches and happily chatting away. After a long hike, we headed to a secret, secluded beach that two of our group members had luckily stumbled upon the previous day. The walk was several scorching miles away (Sunday was the hottest day we’ve had thus far down under), but the beach at Salmon Bay instantly erased all doubts any of us had about the lengthiness of the journey. What a freaking beach! Never in my life have I been on a beach with such crystal clear shimmering water, pristine white sand, and utter seclusion from the rest of the world! We plopped down our gear and set out to check out surroundings, including a series of jagged rocks that led to a cave. We instantly found some unique creatures, including a giant sea slug, several scuttling crabs, and a birds nest that housed a couple of tiny baby birds. After returning to our gear, we snatched up our snorkeling equipment and hit the temperate water running. I was blown away by the size and variety of coral and fish that I witnessed, and I could have spent an entire day with my head in the water enjoying the incredible aquatic animals and views. We spent the rest of the day snorkeling, relaxing on the beach, tossing some Frisbee, reading, and really just enjoying the heck out of the mind-bogglingly gorgeous beach and island. We eventually had to drag ourselves away from our secret paradise to catch the last ferry home, where we discovered just how exhausted the weekend had made us all and just how unforgiving the brutal Australian sun can be (using the word tomato to describe our skin would be an understatement). However, the weekend was truly one of the highlights of my trip thus far and we all had a marvelous weekend on Rottnest Island!
-On Monday afternoon, a few friends and I took the train to Perth to experience first hand some of the somewhat bizarre local cuisine. We shared an absolutely mouthwatering plate of assorted meat including kangaroo, crocodile, and emu! It was definitely a memorable experience, and although some of my female amigos were less than thrilled with the interesting meal, I savored my portion and found it to be quite delicious!
-Another fantastic evening of late night Tuesday pick-up basketball, never gets old. The car ride was highlighted by a heated 30 minute debate over whether college basketball or NBA is better, more entertaining, and more intense (I of course argued in favor of the infinitely superior NCAA).
-Wednesday marked round 2 of myself cooking community dinner. Our glorious team of 4 prepared a delicious appetizer of various popcorn flavors (my favorite being the peanut butter and chocolate chip popcorn), as well as a main course that included grilled, seasoned green beans, corn, and three delicious varieties of pasta: fettuccine with butter and parmesan, fettuccine with sausage and Italian tomato sauce, and my personal favorite, fettuccine with deliciously succulent chicken and pesto. YUM! To top it off, I borrowed my dear friend’s recipe for no bake cookies, a fudgy, peanut buttery delight that was met with rave reviews. Great success!
I’m headed to Broome tomorrow morning to live with an aboriginal community for 5 days and I could NOT be more excited!!! The same day I return from my journey to the outback I’m taking a plane to Thailand for what will surely be a stupendous vacation, what a stinkin’ blast! My life is pretty darn hard… This next week will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of my study abroad experience so wish me luck!
Peace, LOVE, and gumdrops,