Cairns, Australia
 Today we visited the Tjapukai Cultural Center, an Aboriginal park featuring history, artifacts and demonstrations. The documentary part about the ancient tribal culture and its clash with European invasion was moving and sad. But not surprising or new for me. It is a different story about a familiar subject. What was surprising is how well the culture is supported by the Australian Government and public, at least in this region. I'm sure the Aboriginal people might have a different take, but compared to native cultures in the states, there was much wider knowledge and acceptance.
This is definitely the dry tropics. Unlike the jungles I'm familiar with — Central America — this is half that type of vegetation and the other half desert. It is so weird to see that hit the blue, blue sea.
First impressions: one - I'm a dumb tourist. I thought I'd be able to see the Great Barrier Reef from the plane since we flew right down the northeastern coastline; and two - this town is like a ghost town full of people. Most towns, they have a life of their own, and the Cairns inhabitants seem empty and drained. Australians for the most part have a vivacious energy that us come from within cos there's not much life in the town of Cairns itself. Feels like the states.
Kuranda, Australia
October 30, 2003
Kuranda is immense and I didn't get an appreciation for that until we rode the tram through it. We took a bus from the base up to the top of the mountain, then wandered, checking out the wallabies and kangaroos. Caylo was a little suspicious of the kangaroos. Then we took the tram down. Listened to the birds calling in the canopy. Monkeys howling. Watched swarms of butterflies flit through the treetops, dancing in the sun.
On our way back down the hill, we stopped off at Barron Gorge, an immense cliff wall with huge waterfalls crashing down, making stadium-sized pools at their bases like stairsteps across the cliff face. Tall, jagged, craggy, with the water sparkling like gems as it cascaded to the rapids below. Absolutely breathtaking. Surrounded by tropical rainforests, bird calls and bright sunshine, I forgot where I was. Didn't mind. It was like the reef; for a time, I got lost in where I was and never wanted to go.
Part of me missed my old life them. No timetables, no schedules, no one to answer to. But giving that experience to Caylo, I know the more he sees the more he'll want to protect it and feel a sense of obligation to keep it eternal, beautiful and unspoilt.
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