Friday, July 30, 2010

Cairns at Leisure

It's a 15 minute walk from our hotel into the heart of the tourist district of Cairns and we have little on our agenda. The day is warm and slightly overcast and we eat lunch at an outdoor cafe on the corner of the center square. The giant fig tree dominates the square; it's "Little Shop of Horror's" tendrils and roots, creeping over the cement wall upon which people are sitting and enjoying the shade. We are not good shoppers, but poke into the many tourist shops and buy a few T-shirts for John and as gifts. The shops end and we cross over a busy boulevard and enter the park adjoining the beach. There are many interconnected swimming pools just inland from the beach and hundreds of people frolic in the shallow water or sunbathe on the adjoining sand or grass. We walk down to the harbor and drool over the incredible yachts in the slips and loop back around into town. We stroll past a drive through liquor store; amusing, and enter an air-conditioned mall. A fashion show is in progress and teen age girls are waking an improvised runway, modeling outfits that I surmise, they have put together. I am not impressed and feel embarrassed for the girls as they are ranked by the crowds applause.

On our walk back to our hotel, we pass other immense fig trees and I stop to take photos of the roots and tendrils. Another couple is taking photos, their cameras pointed high up towards the branches. I have been so focused on the bases of the trees that I have not looked up. There are thousands of flying foxes hanging like ripe fruits from the branches. We saw coveys of similar bats in the mangroves of Flores Island in Indonesia. I surmise that these Australian fruit bats are a foot to a foot and a half in length. The couple cautions us to watch out for bat guano missiles.

Back at our hotel, I do laundry and we have a reasonably good dinner at the hotel restaurant.

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