I’m driving with two Couchsurfers through tropical north Queensland, up and up, through the rainforest toward Kuranda village. The wind blows through our hair and we practice our German accents while Zeppelin blasts on the radio. We’re looking out for Cassowaries and wild cockatoos, our wallets fat with the prospect of buying didgeridoos and locally made crafts from the Djabugay Aborigines.
While our White Pickup truck twists and turns through the dense rainforest, we almost miss a scenic lookout of Cairns city. We step out of the car to watch the Coral Sea glimmer in the distance like a million diamond-studded wrists, beckoning tourists and locals alike to sail out, to discover the wonderful coral cities that lie underneath the water’s surface.
It’s Sunday afternoon and we’re sweating in the balmy “city center” (population: 1,600) perusing artisan stalls, examining wild flora and spiders, snapping pictures of locals enjoying a smoke and their afternoon coffee in this hippie meets yuppie mecca. Homemade ice cream soothes our thirsty tongues and my German friend Linnea buys a pair of pants from a dreadlocked purveyor.
“Are these a little much?” Linnea asks me. “Red’s too loud, isn’t it?”
The pants look like they’ve been waiting to hug her hips her whole life.
“They’re perfect.” I start. “Who else do you know that owns a pair of red pants?”
She completes the purchase and we’re off to Barron Gorge Falls. We ask someone to “make a picture” of us, as Linnea would incorrectly, yet endearingly say. Somehow “making” pictures felt right.
We bushwalk barefoot for a while before coming back down to Earth, beginning our slow, winding descent, pausing only momentarily to burn the leeches off of our calloused feet.