It’s near the end of my reading week (lecture recess/mid-semester break/spring break – why are there so many different names?!), and let me just say it was nothing like I had originally planned. To put it short, it was probably one of the worst reading weeks ever.
Dear Cyclone Debbie, why did you have to come at possibly the worst week ever? I had two trips planned: One was with my fish course where we would be heading down to Orpheus Island, a beautiful place where we would be surveying fish for research. It was going to be wonderful. A three day trip where I’d be spending most of the time swimming in the water (in a remote area) with the company of many of my friends. It was also my birthday weekend so how perfect was that going to be! But of course, Debbie stirred up stronger than ever, and with just two days before the trip, we got notice that it had to cancelled. The whole island has been evacuated- this was getting pretty serious.
I’ve never been in any natural disaster before, and although I have heard about cyclones occurring here, I didn’t think it would actually happen. I remember one of the things I got in my orientation package was a “How to prepare for a cyclone” pamphlet. When I first saw it, I remember vividly going ‘AS IF!’, and threw it somewhere. Jokes on me now! The grocery stores were cleared almost instantly. All the bread, beans, water…gone! It was like there was some apocalypse happening. I got pretty excited and joined in on the fun by stocking up on canned food and filling up water bottles. My roommate and I spent a couple of days moving everything in our backyard inside, taping up windows, and preparing for the worst. It was quite the experience to be honest! A day before the cyclone hits, word of ‘cyclone parties’ are tossed around. Apparently, it’s a thing here. My roommate and I pack our things to stay over at her friend’s house for the so-called ‘cyclone party’. The boys were so keen on the cyclone hitting, and we spent a majority of our time refreshing the updates on the cyclone. They even taped their microwave doors and car down as an exaggeration. Hilarious. Unfortunately, Debbie decided to veer south, and in the end, we got nothing but gorgeous sunsets which I cannot complain about. But with every gust of wind we would be like “THERE IT IS!”, and then nothing for the next 20 minutes. We didn’t even get rain… heck, we got more rain last week! Don’t get me wrong though, I’m definitely thankful it didn’t hit us directly as it was intended to. It’s done a lot of damage down south and has flooded many areas, but a little excitement could have been nice. I was honestly disappointed, and even more disappointed by the fact that the trip to Orpheus Island could have probably worked out.
I had spent most of the reading week indoors. I was a potato. And if you know me, you know I hate staying indoors. I’m more tired than ever. Most of my friends that were still around were studying for their midterms coming the following week. Fair enough. I definitely could have gone somewhere, but flights were super expensive because of how last minute it was.
There was one thing left on the agenda though! I had planned to get my advanced diving, and was surprised to find out that it was still running despite the anti-climactic aftermath of Debbie. My friend and I woke up at 5am the following day, packed our bags to spend two nights over on Magnetic Island for the course. We were super excited and it was a beautiful day! Unfortunately, the visibility was the worst. I could barely see my friend who would be less than a meter away from me. We couldn’t see anything. It was far from the ideal conditions. But, we made the best of it, and worked on our buoyancy, navigation, and search and recovery skills. What we were looking forward to most anyways was the Yongala Wreck dive tomorrow- one of the top dives in the world. While my friend and I were resting up on our two dives, and talking about how tomorrow should be much better, our instructor comes around the corner: “I’ve got some bad news”.
And with that, we were told the boat out to Yongala was not running. So, the trip was cancelled, and we would have to reschedule for another weekend. I felt so defeated. Could this week get any worse? My friend and I prepped for two nights on the island, and now we could just head back home in a couple of hours if we wanted to. So to put in summary: My trip to Orpheus Island, and wreck dive got cancelled from a cyclone that never came.
But it doesn’t end here. I wrote this post because I wanted to say how sometimes the best things happen when nothing goes as planned. The best trips I’ve been to have been the most spontaneous ones. The best laughs have been from times I’d least expect. So with that to remind myself, my friend and I spent the rest of the day with open arms. We went back to the bay, and laid down in the cool shaded sand. We had a really nice conversation and ended up falling asleep at the same time. That nap was glorious. There was a nice breeze, the sand was so comfortable, and I felt so relaxed. I could have slept there all night if I had to. We then decided to do a short hike up to a small hill during sunset. We got lost a little, but made it to the top and what a view! It was another beautiful sunset. I can never get tired of sunsets! And despite getting bit a handful of times by those darn mosquitoes, the haze, and changing colors made it all worth it. When we marched back down, a bat flew down at us, and we grabbed each other, and yelled in perfect synchrony. It was hilarious. We wanted an adventure, so here it was, haha! We then biked back to the ferry port, and missed the track and so had to heave through the biggest slope. I didn’t think I was going to make it, and if that uphill was any longer, I probably would have rolled back down. Luckily there weren’t any cars behind us as well. We then went to the cutest family owned mexican restaurant in the middle of nowhere. We thought we were walking into someone’s backyard, but what a place it turned out to be! After the most satisfying burrito ever, we spent the next few hours chatting. It turned out out to be such a lovely night, and it wasn’t even over yet. We had another 12km cycle back home, and even though we could have left our bikes in the city and take the bus back, we wanted to end with a BANG. And so, we cycled through with the gentle breeze on our side. It was magnificent. At this point, I was exhausted, and the bike felt like it was going to give up on me. But at last, I made it home in a sweaty mess (the fully loaded backpack definitely didn’t help with the ride). I felt super pleased- what a day this had turn out to be!
So all in all, yes, reading week did suck mostly. But hey, I cycled for 30km, chased many sunsets, still managed to dive a little, ate a lot of food (priorities), watched a lot of movies, and did next to little school work. Sounds pretty great to me now!