Cairns is a beautiful city. From the lodge, the bus into town takes about 30 minutes. It drops us off in the heart of the city, not far from the Esplanade. The Esplanade is the beautiful walk that lines the bay. It goes from the pier, where the yacht club docks their sailboats for racing, the tour boats wait to take sightseers to the islands, and children raised at sea scavenge for parts to make their own toy sailboats. Then it goes past the Lagoon, where tourist sunbathe in the sand, families swim and splash together, and giant fish spurt fountains of water. It continues along where the shallow waters of the Coral Sea meet the shore of the city. It’s hard not to feel like you’re on vacation, since the city is full of palm trees and exotic birds perched in the trees or flying overhead. Yesterday, after we walked through Rusty’s market, we sat in the shade and saw parrots, cockatoos, and pelicans. This is a normal day in Cairns.
Rusty’s market is open Friday through Sunday, and on Sundays, when the vendors are trying to get rid of their produce, they sell it for cheap. I bought a quarter of a watermelon (originally priced at 2.75) for $1, a container of strawberries for $2, and 10 tiny avocados for $2. The prices are amazing, but I’d argue that the atmosphere is the best part of being in the market. The colors of the fresh fruits light up the market, and the clothing and jewelry are casually elegant, boasting bright pinks and turquoises, as well as mellow oranges and browns. There’s so much to see, and so much to buy. Peppa pig crocs. Colorful sarongs. Crepes. Butternut squash. Thai cuisine. Relaxing massages. Coffee. Fresh ginger. Smoothies. Passionfruit. Lots of things I’ve never heard of, seen, or eaten before.
We had lunch at the market. I had a Korean rice bowl with chicken and stir-fried kimchi. It was different from the Korean food I’ve had in the past, but still delicious. The food here is unique, and certainly westernized—or Australianized? The biggest difference between Australian food and American food is that there isn’t as much sugar in Aussie food. We sweeten our food to death. We put sugar in our bread, our beverages, our bacon, our everything! The amount of sugar I put in my tea is off-putting to my Aussie friends, who take their tea black. And the smoothies here are sweetened naturally with fruit and maybe a little honey. It’s definitely a healthier way of eating, but I do miss my sweets.
Timtams are my refuge. They’re chocolate covered biscuits that are layered with a sweet cream in the center. The Timtam challenge is my favorite thing to do. You take milk, or preferably hot tea, and bite the ends off of the Timtam. Then proceed to use the cookie as a straw and suck up the beverage as much as possible before shoving the whole thing in your mouth. The result is the most delicious melty chocolate perfection you’ve ever tasted. Also, it’s heaps of fun.
Cairns is certainly a tourist town, catering to visitors with lots of places to get ice cream, book travel plans, lounge out in the sun, and shop for clothes or trinkets. It has its pros and cons, but so far, I’ve only been entranced by the pros. Next Sunday, we’re planning on going back to Rusty’s in the morning, and then to check out the bungee jumping place behind our accommodation. Every week here is full of excitement. I’m already sad that I have to leave in November.