After running ourselves ragged for nearly three days, trying to see everything that the Tropical North Queensland area had to offer us, we just needed a break. So, when we got back to Cairns around 3pm on Sunday afternoon, we took one. After going to the hostel to get some gear, James went to the Lagoon and I went shopping (which I have described in another entry).
After I finished shopping for family presents, I met up with James near the Lagoon. Since Cairns has plenty of beaches, but none that you can swim at for a vast majority of the year, the Lagoon is its very good substitute. It reminded me a lot of South Bank in Brisbane. Both are oases in an area where you can't normally go swimming; in Brisbane, this is because South Bank is next to the Brisbane River, which is often referred to as sludge (on its good days) and is an hour away from any beach, and in Cairns, this is because the miles upon miles of beautiful beaches are deadly for a majority of the year. And no, I am not referring to the intense sun and the fact that the ozone layer has a large hole in it above Australia, although this is obviously very deadly as well. The reason the beaches here are especially deadly is the box jellyfish, which is the most deadly jellyfish in the world and lives close to shore from October-May. You can go swimming/surfing if you have a full body wetsuit and plenty of vinegar to ward off potential stings, but the Lagoon seems like a much better option to me.
James had planned on going swimming, but since it was the middle of July (about as much in the "dead of winter" as Cairns gets), he had refrained. The pool was relatively empty, with the odd child jumping up and down in the shallow end or the odd teenager throwing a rugby ball around. The park, which surrounds the Lagoon and borders the Esplanade, Cairns' beachside street, was much more active. Everywhere, there were people having a good time tossing around rugby balls, playing cricket, or barbequing on the many provided electric BBQs. One thing that struck me the most about this was the number of languages I heard just sitting in the park--they ranged anywhere from Chinese to Portuguese to various African languages I can't even name.
We sat in the park for a while before moving to something that resembled the Seawall in Galveston. It was a tiny concrete wall separating the sidewalk from the beach, which had surprisingly little sand and surprisingly large numbers of mangroves lining it. Here, we dangled our feet over the sand until the sunset.
Even though there were people screaming and making noise all around us, this was definitely the most relaxing part of our trip. James was absorbed in the book that he had stolen from me (a very depressing "Dirt Music" by Tim Winton, whom we have decided is a very depressed man), while I just took in the sights. I watched the seagulls flapping as a flock from one side of the beach to the other, depending on where scraps of food were, all the while yelling "Moine! Moine!" As the sun slowly set behind the hills to our left and cast an orange glow over the children building sandcastles on the beach, I took pictures of everything around me. I ended up with about five of the same sunset picture, and one where James put his face in front of the camera, telling me to stop taking pictures obsessively!
With as many activities as Cairns and the surrounding area offer, it's hard to just sit still, relax, and take in the scenery. James and I tried to fit as much into our holiday as possible, but realized it when we tried to push ourselves too far. Slowing down was the best thing we could have done--after all, aren't vacations supposedly about relaxing?--and I thought that, along with our dinner at Swordfish, it was the best way possible to farewell Cairns.