Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Rundle Mall

A couple days ago mom and I went shopping at Rundle Mall in Adelaide. At one point we were shopping in a department store (David Jones) and we got separated. I circled the whole women's department about 4 times, but couldn't find her. She claims she was standing in the center the whole time - obviously we are both having a hard time corroborating the other's story.

I planned to page her, but figured first I would try on the clothes in my arms so that I would be ready to go once I found her. As I was trying on the last shirt and about to get dressed, I suddenly heard a loud announcement over the PA system. It went something like this;

"Ms. Shauri Quinn please report to the customer service desk on the first level, your mother is looking for you."

I kind of laughed at the fact that they said my mommy was looking for me--it made me sound like a lost 5 year old, but I gathered my stuff and started to make my way out until I realized the announcement was still going.

"We are looking for Shauri Quinn from the United States of America. Please report to your mother on the first level. If you are Ms, Shauri Quinn, American shopper your mother is looking for you. Please Shauri Quinn report to your mother."

The announcement went on for about 5 minutes and they continued to be very clear about my mother wanting to find me and where I was from. At that point, I backed in to the dressing room again, closed the door and waited a few minutes to let the voice subside a bit before I made my big exit/entrance. I didn't want everyone pointing fingers and whispering--there goes that American shopper Shauri Quinn who can't find her mommy! You know, the one shopping from the United States.

I'm a bit baffled why the over emphasis on where I was from. Is Shauri Quinn a very common name in Australia that requires extra clarification? Or perhaps they were having a little fun at the expense of the idiot Americans?

Luckily we were reunited. Australians certainly know how to help out in emergency situations. As long as they know what country you're from you're golden.

You Got Served

One quick shout-out. For those of you who haven't already been there, my sister has an awesome cooking/food blog: You Got Served. Great name huh? I won't even pretend I don't love to toot my own horn, so yes, I won her "name my blog" contest.

Because I am the thrilled recipient of most of her meals and cooking efforts, I can assure you it is DELICIOUS food that can help you out when you need some great recipes in a pinch. She also tells you how to perfectly time you're cooking efforts so everything comes out hot and ready to the table at just the right time.

I also happen to be a guest writer on her blog for the most awesome chocolate chip cookies in the world this week, I can only assume that sweetens the pot (no pun intended) on your desire to see what's there. Enjoy!


It was a unique Christmas down under. Not bad, just unique.

Perhaps the highlight of the holiday was the night before Christmas. We had about 30 people over for dinner. People investigating the church, missionaries, a friend of Garrett and his family, and our family.

After dinner Garrett and I were in charge of running a game. We played Celebrity. Basically, for those of you not in the know, this is glorified charades. All participants put 3 names in a bowl (in our case, names from the scriptures) and then you divide in to two teams and alternate. Three rounds to get as many as you can. First round you can act it out or use descriptive words. Second round you can only say one word and act it out. Last round you can't use any words.

Many of our participants were either English as a Second language people, or more "senior" or just plain slow. It made for an interesting time.

Here are some of my favorite moments.

1. One of the senior lady missionaries put the name "Dorcas" in the bowl. This has two parts of funny. The first was when a missionary drew it and tried to get people to know who it was by saying "it's a name you call someone in America when they're not smart or annoying." We got a lot of colorful language, but no one hit on Dork, which would clearly lead to Dorcas. Second bit--the missionaries insisted there was no person named Dorcas in the bible and the Sr. Sister who put it spent the whole rest of the game disengaged, searching her scriptures for Dorcas, only at the very end joyfully jumping to her feet to read a passage of scripture proving the woman's existence. Her team lost, but she claimed a personal victory.
(See her studying as the game goes on)

2. One of the investigators was an Asian girl who spoke very little English and wasn't very familiar with some of the scriptures and their names. Especially ones from the random Book of Mormon. She got extremely frustrated as she tried to get her team to just get one name and finally started shouting (clearly against the rules) "it starts with J and has 5 letters." The best part is that her team still didn't get it causing Garrett to tell the whole team how pathetic they were as he snorted in disdain.

3. The last one I'll share was another investigator named Randall. He was about late 40's and Australian/Caucasian (meaning English WAS his first language) and he looked a bit like Ichabod Crane. He said some rather odd things at dinner, but the topper was when in the middle of the game he decided he wanted to contribute. (He didn't know many of the scriptural names that were getting called either.) Right as mom sat down and took the bowl he snuck over and threw a piece of paper in the bowl. Since it was on top, mom grabbed it first and got a strange look on her face. She had no idea what to do with it until one of the more "aware" missionaries figured out what paper she was looking at and snatched it out of her hands telling her to move on. Garrett and I looked at the paper Randall had written to see what name he put. He wrote, "Strong, Large, Small." Could the set up be more perfect that he wrote that and put it in just in time for mom to draw it?? Later we learned he was doing a new version of the game where he gives the clues rather than the name. Or something.

All in all, it was a delightful evening with very little sense to it, but a jolly spirit and a lot of love, and after all, isn't that what Christmas is really all about?

Also including a few pics from Christmas Day.

Dad dressed up as Santa to deliver presents to all the missionaries. The first pic is him showing us how he's "grown into" his Santa suit over the last 3 years.

Dad also had two little helpers. Garrett would NOT agree to antlers, but finally was persuaded to wear a Jr. Santa hat. He said he WOULD have worn a full elf costume if it was an option, which leads me to wonder why that is better than antlers...?

Christmas Morning.

I gave dad and Garrett matching "No worries" T-shirt which only dad was willing to model.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Elf said it best

"The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear."

I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have said that if he heard this:

Instead he may have said, "The best way to create wide-spread fear is singing loud for all to hear." Thank you Flip video for ensuring all these magic moments are kept and enjoyed.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Out Bush

That's what the Aboriginals say when they leave city life for the country and just disappear. I'm out bush. On Sunday we went out bush.

My parents mission covers Alice Springs and the outback country surrounding it. There are several Aboriginal groups out bush that they have missionaries working with. Some, like Lisa's parents are doing literacy programs, and others are doing service with the aboriginals and teaching them about our church. We decided to go and see what church was like out bush and to witness the baptism of a recent convert out there named Daisy.

It was a very humbling experience to see the way these people live and they way they have been treated by the white man and the government in Australia. In the efforts to "help make it up" they have introduced some of the same problems we introduced to our American Indians--alcohol(ism), gambling (addiction) and possessions that are of little consequence to them.

The missionaries out bush work with a tiny congregation which on Sunday we counted out to be about 27 people and 17 dogs. Dogs are quickly gaining too. It was a great experience to have church scraped down to the bare minimum--to it's essence and share it with people who care only about that essence - God and a spirit of Love. We had church under their "family tree" in about 110 degree weather on little wooden benches.

There was one moment during the service when Garrett and I had to nudge each other a little and that was as the missionaries passed the sacrament and we heard playing across the street from someone's car, Girls just wanna have fun! I swear that song has been part of every single trip I've taken since 1994, and since I doubt that I will ever hear it during church again, I kinda soaked it in.

The girl who was baptized did it in a metal tub in the open air garage. As you can see, the kids were enjoying the "font" quite a bit before the baptism took place.

The children were a bit wild, but adorable and really enjoyed swinging on the tree behind my dad, running in and out of the meeting, laughing and singing.

This little girl's shirt says it all I think. She was priceless.

Everyone fought to hold the newest little baby.

And before we left, Clifford who was sort of the head of the group asked our family to take a picture with his family under their family tree "since we were now part of their family." He really took a shine to Garrett too and kept sitting next to him and talking to him and asking him what his favorite Hymn was. He stumped Garrett on that one! (I think one of the best parts of this picture were the life sized toys and Santa the kids insisted on bringing out of the house to include in the picture.)

We were boiling hot, covered in flies, but not ready to leave. As hard as some of the smells were to stomach and the quality of life that we witnessed (including lots of basics like wiping kids eyes and runny noses and not all dipping dirty fingers in to one can of yogurt and eating it) it was a place filled with love and a reminder to think about all we've been blessed with, and what's really important.

A Sacred Site, A Steamy Spa, and Aussie Service

This morning we got up and went on a hike around Uluru with two tour guides. One was a white guy and the other was an Aboriginal woman named Valerie. The rock is sacred to the aboriginals, and it is very upsetting to them when people try to climb the rock, although of course many do.

As we walked around the base of the rock, every once in a while Valerie would stop and teach us something about their ways and elements of the rock. She would speak in her language and then the white tour guide would translate. She actually speaks some English, but the belief is that what they are teaching you about their traditions should be taught in their language. I think it made the whole experience feel more sacred.

At one point she stopped by a tree to show us some berries that they eat –tiny little red berries that apparently have 9x the vitamin C of an orange. The white guide was explaining this to us and searching for berries. It took him several moments to triumphantly find one and pull it off the tree. When we looked back over at Valerie she had about 9 or 10 berries in her hand that she was eating.

The white guide laughed at how easily she found them, while he struggled for one. Later dad used this story as an analogy to show how sometimes we lack vision - especially with regard to sacred or important things in life and it isn’t until our eyes are opened by someone or by a sacred experience or God that the world changes and we suddenly see things we didn’t before. It was certainly apparent in this case.

She showed us some of the things they wrote on the walls – some seem to be stories to remember like the creation story. Other writing/drawing is to teach what they have learned to others. For example Valerie showed us where they had drawn a certain kind of snake to watch out for that was poisonous. It was very interesting.

In the women’s site she taught us some stories – one about a woman facing east and a monster dog who was chasing that woman. This is his paw print:

It was a fascinating experience and Valerie had the most peaceful spirit about her. She was a beautiful person.

After the hike we relaxed a bit and then I surprised everyone with an early Christmas present to get massages at the spa. Mom and I went first, and it was fairly uneventful, although I was surprised to be led in to a room with two tables where we got “couples massages.” I wasn’t expecting that and I was excited to hear about Dad and Garrett’s reaction when they were led in for theirs.

Perhaps the best part of the experience was when we were all in our robes in the sitting room and we learned that dad was wearing the disposable thong underwear. I could only imagine how thrilled he was to put that on. The funniest moment was when he was sitting in his chair with a short robe and not a very “lady-like” position (legs wide open) and mom frantically signaling to him to shut his legs. He didn’t get it and looked a bit annoyed when he finally figured it out. Mom was laughing so hard while she was signaling he couldn’t understand her.

Garrett said, “Mom you’ve seen him naked a million times, what’s the big deal?” And she responded indignantly, “Not in public!” I should hope not.

The other funny moment was when Garrett asked if men or women gave us massages and we said women. He looked very relieved because for some reason he didn’t want a man to give him a massage although dad didn’t care one way or the other. Garrett was very adamant about not wanting “big man hands” rubbing him. When it was time for them to go a woman and a man walked in to take their papers. Garrett got up with a big smile on his face off to his massage, but what he didn’t notice was it was the man who picked up his paper work. Mom and I got a big laugh thinking about them being led in to the couples tables and Garrett finding out he was getting man hands.

For dinner we went to “Australian Bar-b-que.” You pick your meat, they give you a grill and you grill it yourself. After we picked all our meat and loaded up from the buffet we moved over to the picnic tables and were treated to another Australian specialty—flies. Everywhere in the outback you get swarmed by flies – the aboriginals hardly even notice them now and you can see they let them crawl on their faces and eyes with hardly a care. I hadn’t had the full fly effect until this meal when they swarmed our food, faces and bodies. I have NEVER eaten so fast while fanning my food with my left hand, sticking in bites with my right and being careful not to leave my mouth open too long in case a fly decided to join my food. It was disgusting. I think we all ate in about 5 minutes flat and bolted.

This was the good part of the day. The less good part came in the form of that awesome Australian service I’ve been talking about in earlier posts. After we packed all our bags and lugged them over to the spot where we were getting picked up by a bus for our trip back to Alice we discovered the bus wasn’t coming. (First imagine how thrilled Garrett was to learn that he didn’t have to go on another flight after all his complaints – instead he got a 5 hour bus ride.)
Mom called the bus people about 8 times that day to confirm we knew what time pickup was and where we should meet the bus so you can imagine her chagrin and shock when the manager at the pickup spot told us no bus was coming. Apparently sometimes if they don’t have enough people they just don’t come. Interesting. We did finally get ahold of the bus driver (after he left Uluru) and he agreed to come back and get us. Here are some shots of us waiting:
(apparently dad and Garrett don't like sitting together.)

When he came back he was a bundle of cheer and no worries and g’day mates, and I have to say, I thought the bus was extremely comfortable and enjoyable. Not sure dad, Garrett and mom agreed, but I quite liked it. Of course I was a fan of the Chinatown bus trip that Lisa, Amy and Kristin have different feelings about as well.

About halfway through the trip the bus stopped and all of a sudden we heard some man saying, “I’m injured – not sure I can make it up there. Can’t get up there now.” And other random things. He was a very large man who looked sort of like the axe murderer guy in Adventures in Babysitting. (KQ, you know the guy). Garrett and I were shocked, or at least I was, because I had no idea how he got back there or that he was back there. Turns out there was some secret compartment by the bathroom with a curtain and a bed. Apparently mom on one of her bathroom visits didn’t know he was there either and swung the door wide smacking the poor man in the head. That may be when the “injury” occurred, not sure.

Other than that the trip was uneventful and we happily arrived back at our hotel in Alice around 1am. Ready and raring for our 6am wakeup call the next morning to go out bush.

I'll pay you back

Garrett was thrilled to find out we were boarding another flight the next day out to Uluru, or as the white man calls it, Ayers Rock. A World Heritage site. The flight was just a short 30 minutes from Alice.

Mom was stunned on the flight when a woman came up to her and said in booming voice, “Hello Sister Quinn!” Mom just stared at her and you could see the wheels turning as she tried to figure out who this woman was and how she knew here. Finally after a pregnant pause the woman said, “You don’t know me. I’m from Utah and I saw your nametag.” Mom’s face slowly regained color as she exhaled and remember she was wearing her name on her clothing.

Nothing got spilled on Garrett on this flight.

When we got in to the resort it was beautiful and we wandered around to check out the view of Uluru, and to make our plans for the rest of the afternoon/evening.

I planned some activities for us, and one of them involved disposable cameras I handed out to each member of the family. The objective was to use half the pictures to tell a unique story they would write to go with their photos, and the second half to try and catch the funniest or most creative shot of a person in the family. You can see dad was busily engaged with his disposable camera, while mom followed him around taking shots of him taking pictures, and Garrett shooting mom, shooting dad. Creative family.

Our plan for the night was a camel ride to see the sun set over Uluru. Right before we were going to walk out the door to the camels, Dad suddenly sat on the couch and said, “I’m not going.” Like this was going to be OK with everyone. I was sort of expecting this moment since his last experience on a horse in Costa Rica involved terror (his) and getting bucked off his horse and almost trampled on a cliff. Horses do smell fear and I have never seen anyone so scared of a horse. Needless to say he was relived when that trip ended with no plans for a future horse ride.

Of course, these weren’t horses – they were camels. So what’s the problem? We wheedled, cajoled, threatened and finally mom told him he WAS going and that she had paid $99 for his camel ride. His response? “I’ll pay you back.” A clever response, but it didn’t work out for him – he was forced to come.

You can see the tenseness on his face. And how mom is laughing at his fear.

The camels did make a lot of loud, scary noises as they jumped up with us on board, but turns out it was an easy ride, no one got bucked off and dad admitted it exceeded his expectations.

The sunset was beautiful, but we didn’t really enjoy it for very long and I was anticipating we would see the sun set behind or even near Uluru and the two were not connected at all. It was still fun though and seeing dad on a camel was well-worth the $99 and then some.

One other benefit of the camel trip was meeting Deborah and her son from Chicago. She was a lot of fun, had led an extremely interesting life and ended up going to dinner with us and telling us all about her life story. One of the best parts of traveling is the interesting people you meet and connections you make.

Alice Springs- Day 1

As much as Garrett and I loved our time in Cairns, we were both pretty excited to finally see mom and dad in Alice Springs. At the airport we ran in to the Melbourne international team and I stopped to talk to a couple guys who looked American. Turns out one of them went to High School with James Lang who I filmed on the Utah Flash last year. Small basketball world.

Garrett and I got on our flight and as you may have noticed one of the recurring themes of this trip has been, “What’s going to happen to Garrett today?” Sort of like Where’s Waldo, but not as interactive and engaging. Now that I’ve set the stage I may as well tell you, the stewardess spilled some apple juice on Garrett that she was pouring for someone else. I caught it out of the corner of my eye, but couldn’t believe it really happened until I saw the stain on his shorts and heard the attendant say, “I’m sorry.” That’s all, sorry. I mean, I guess there’s not much else you can do in that situation but say you’re sorry, but somehow it just doesn’t seem enough.

Garrett said it was ok, but then we both started laughing hysterically. Both at the fact that another bad thing happened to him, and at the fact that she spilled and just said sorry. I told him he should toss his drink at her as she walked by and when she turned just look really apologetic and say, “Oh, sorry.” What else could he do? Then they could both be sorry together.

The good news is right after we met mom we went to get ice cream and something weird and pink was dripping from an unidentified source in the mall…right on to Garrett’s shorts. And a day later the green box he carried rubbed off all over his white t-shirt. Need I say more? Garrett has resigned himself to the fact that fate is against him. Either his clothes are lost, or pink mystery goop is dripping on them.

It was so great to see mom at that airport and dad a bit later. You forget or get accustomed to being away from them and then on sight remember just how much you missed them. When mom picked us up at the airport it was in classic Delsa fashion. She was waiting with the camera up to take a picture of us, but she got so flustered or excited, she put it down right after she pressed the button and said, "I can't figure this thing out" and then it flashed and took the picture. We suggested a little patience might help the mechanics. But she was already rushing over to hug us, camera forgotten.

We met dad and walked over to a park and sat and chatted or a while before having an early Christmas dinner with all their missionaries in the Alice Springs area.

We also got our first glimpse of some of our other favorite people—the Shumways. My sister in Law’s parents are also serving missions in Alice creating a literacy program for the aboriginals in the outback. It’s doing surprisingly well, and everyone is really excited about it. You can see mom and Linda are carrying on as usual.

Our dinner was at a surprising location for a bunch of missionaries—a smoke-filled casino. Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Gift that spoiled Christmas

Time for a brief break in the Australia Travel log. If you read Kristin's blog, you may have already read this story, but it's a spinster story must, so it has to be posted here as well.

Many of you are familiar with "hockeydad." Before leaving the country I put together a little gift bag for him and asked my sister to deliver it for me as I was rushing out the door. She agreed.

Several days later she cheerfully left to deliver it. As I was boarding my plane from Dunk Island, I got this email from Kristin:

Well, I delivered your present today. He wasn't there, but a blond 30ish woman answered the door. I really hope it wasn't his ex cause that would be awkward. He has a sister though, right? It was probably her. Just in case she was his ex and you're curious, it was a very short exchange.

Is Joe here?
No he's not.
Oh, okay. My sister asked me to drop this off. Can you give it to him for me?

All very pleasant.


I happen to know that his sister does not have blonde hair and that his ex does. However I also know that he would never let her in the house with the kids while he was gone so I start to wonder...I shoot him a quick msg and ask if his ex was in the house today by any chance?

Here's his reply:

No, but it is a funny story. Your sis got the wrong house but just happened to go to a neighbor's house whose husband is also named Joe.

The poor lady thought her husband was having an affair and that your gift was from a mistress. She finally figured it out after she got herself off the floor.

At this point it all falls in to place and as the full picture develops, the conversation Kristin had with the blond woman becomes much funnier. Imagine you have a girl on your step with gifts for you husband, saying she is dropping it off for "her sister."

I tell Kristin what happened and get this final email:

So funny. And actually, the first house I went to was the wrong house. It was a black family and I was like, I think I have the wrong house... I'm looking for Joe. He pointed me over to the house I went to. Great directions sis. I feel so bad for that lady!

Sort of the opposite of a Christmas miracle. Could be bad directions. Could be a bad direction follower. I say, all's well that ends well and as long as there are no divorces caused by this little mishap, no harm no foul. I do wonder how they figured out it was the wrong Joe, and I also wonder how many men by that name live on one small cul-de-sac!

Diving and bobbing is best in Water

This morning Garrett and I had our snorkeling adventure out to the Reef. Our fearless captain picked us up on what seemed to a glorified life raft. It was supposed to be just Garrett and I, but Captain Jason had picked up two other stowaways. A semi-crazy gypsy type woman and her 4-year old daughter.

The woman was a delight--obviously from the back country, but so positive and optimistic she was totally fun and hilarious.

The ride out was more like white water rafting as we "jumped" waves and held on for dear life. It was really fun.

We ended up at a couple different remote island coves where we did some snorkeling. The best part was when he gave us our sting ray protective suits and Garrett's literally hung on him. Cap'n Jason said he'd perhaps overestimated Garrett's size and maybe a Medium would do. Garrett stuck with his roomier version. You can see it's quite flattering.

Unfortunately I ended up getting a little seasick and washed myself up on shore after about 15 minutes of snorkeling. It was still a delightful day in beautiful water with great company - and a captain who offered to "massage me" to help with my seasickness. That's a new one. When I turned down the great offer he came over and trickled cold bottled water on my neck. At that point I told him I was much, much better.

Our time on Dunk had ended and Garrett and I made our way back to our little death-trap plane. Seated next to and in front of us was a family of four with a little girl and boy.

After about 20 minutes in to the flight we hit bad weather and our plane started getting tossed around quite a bit. Garrett seemed perfectly comfortable as he slept right through the dips and turns, but the woman in front of us started hyperventilating and crying. Her husband was holding her hand and trying to talk her down. The little boy started crying then too and sucking his thumb and basically they were all in a panic.

I have to admit it was pretty scary, but I was so torn between hilarity and panic watching the family in front of me that I couldn't think too much about my own fear. The woman kept turning to me and asking if I knew when we were landing. I've never seen anyone respond so strongly--she was terrified.

When we finally touched down the pilot said, "Thanks for flying with us, hope you enjoyed the flight." The lady looked at us in shocked disbelief and said, "Did he really just say that???" It was sort of a strange comment to make after all the terror.

One more night in Cairns and then off to see mom and dad in Alice tomorrow. Can't wait for the outback. Garrett has only told me 5 times today that he can't wait to be in Adelaide and done traveling. He's loving it!

Our Troubles at Dunk

Today I woke up at 4am to being trying to troubleshoot my little internet problem. I had promised my colleagues at Root that I would send them a script for the documentary we are making for Hampton. I spent quite a bit of time writing it on my travels, only to discover that the promised internet at Dunk Island was a bit spotty at best, that there is no wireless and only one computer, and on top of that you can’t download any files to that one computer to send out.

I argued for a long time with the manager about how my file would not corrupt their whole system, and offered her all my credit cards and my brother (it’s not really a safe bet at my age to put my firstborn on the table) if she would let me send this stupid word document. Nothing.

So at 4am Cairns time, Brian, myself and the IT team began trying to solve the problem. We tried printer- no. We tried Bluetooth to Blackberry, no again. Brian called AT &T and got me set up for international on my wireless card, no again. Finally at 6:30am we agreed to wait until the staff was up and see what else I could wrangle.

In the midst of all of this intense frustration I managed to slam my thumb in the sliding glass door of their awesome tech center. It hasn’t stopped throbbing yet and Garrett assures me that the nail will probably fall off. I've noticed he's quite a beacon of optimism.

Meanwhile, Garrett’s luggage saga continues. They finally found his lost bag and promised to send it out to Dunk. 36 hours and several phone calls later it still hasn’t appeared. Last call he was told that it was surely on a water taxi of some unidentifiable service on it’s way here. It was supposed to arrive at 4. It’s 5:30 now. He is not a happy camper in his dirty undies and the same white t-shirt he’s worn for the last 3 days. (Sorry Elizabeth- just chronicling history.)

The important point in all of this is that while the manager here at Dunk Island refused to do ANYTHING to help me in my frantic state except shake her head with a patronizing smile and say “Sorry.” There ARE service oriented people in Australia. One. I continued to beg anyone I saw for wireless service or access to their computer when I finally stumbled back in to the reception and found someone new at the desk. A lovely girl named Peta who went way out of her way to help me find a solution and finally when all else failed went and retrieved her laptop on her lunch break and let me send it from her computer at the end of her shift. I could have kissed her.

On top of that, Garrett and I have also had the bad luck of not being able to get on to the snorkeling/diving trip to the Reef (the whole reason we’re here) because it is too full. We begged the activities people to ask the other guests who were here for longer (we leave tomorrow) to trade their spot with us since we only had one day to do it. No. They acted like they would try and then said, “Oh, sorry, can’t find them.”

Peta heard our story and (again) went out of her way to try and re-arrange everything including our flight and when all that failed called someone off the island/resort who agreed to come out and pick us up in his boat and take just Garrett and I out to the reef tomorrow to snorkel.

After being wowed by Hampton two weeks ago and Hilton a few days ago, I was less than impressed with this shoddy service, but will still leave with a good taste in my mouth thanks to our angel…Peta.

By the way, I do realize the irony of me being upset about my inability to have full technology access on a vacation to a desert island where I should be enjoying the “escape.”

On a positive note, Garrett and I did have some very enjoyable moments today. After our rocky start battling the powers that be, we started our day with some stress-relieving pilates. Garrett was worried he would be the only guy, but he wasn’t - there was one other. We were a group of 7 people laying on mats on a tennis court surrounded by dead (and live) cockroaches. “Just a part of the island folks!” It was actually quite relaxing, although not very strenuous. I kept one eye peeled for the roaches though—no worries mate!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dunk Island

After a series of mishaps, Garrett and I finally landed on Dunk Island. A couple of these mishaps include Garrett losing his passport right before customs and us nearly missing our puddle jumper to the island because our flight was delayed.

The puddle jumper was another first—I’ve never flown in a plane that tiny (see how well Garrett fits) or been flown by someone who looks like he just graduated from high school. They start the trip by showing you a life vest that inflates and making sure you know how to use it. Not “in case of emergency landing”, just “You should know how to use this.” Confidently, I stepped on to this rickety old thing.

We did make it safely and landed on a little slice of paradise. It was approximately a thousand degrees with 500% humidity, so you can imagine how hot that was. Garrett will explain here:

Unfortunately the water in the pool had also been nicely heated by the sun, so it was lukewarm and we were supposed to only enter the ocean at our own risk of jellyfish bites. Regardless, it was lovely and who can complain about being in the middle of such a beautiful slice of the earth? Garrett keeps saying he feels like we are in the middle of the lost and the island does feel like that or Robinson Caruso.

At the end of the day we took a stroll on the beach at sunset (quite romantic for a brother and sister) where I snapped some lovely photos and then we headed in to dinner.

Once we were seated, the waitress gave us our menus and Garrett opened his, took a look at words like Vicchyssois salad and said, ‘I have no idea what to do with this.” He has recently informed me that even with his upper middle class upbringing he is actually inherently or genetically blue collar, which certainly accounted for his confusion around the menu options.

We were delighted however to discover that the food was delicious. Before coming I had read on a blog that the food at Dunk Island was terrible and that they only served nasty fish and chips. We have had other service issues and problems with the resort but I will say all the food we’ve eaten has been quite delicious.


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