There are two people that I feel need to be mentioned in my blog; my friends Ella and Chloe. These two women have become such good friends while I have been here, but for some reason, I haven’t written a blog post that they are involved in. Ella is from Tasmania, Australia and Chloe is originally from South Africa, but I still like to think of her as Australian because she has lived here for a while. I absolutely adore them both. Whenever I hang out with these girls we are always laughing, always being crazy weird, and genuinely just having a fantastic time. I love these girls and will really miss them when it’s time to leave…
Yesterday, the three of us planned on going to the Currumbin Rock Pools and maybe doing some swimming if it was warm enough and bringing a picnic lunch along with us to eat. Well, Ella had a huge essay to finish, so she decided not to go unfortunately, but Chloe and I still went. Now, there are a few warnings I should give before you proceed to read this blog post: it is full of peril, danger, near death experiences, and a graphic image that some might feel squeamish about seeing…… Well, can’t say I didn’t warn you! Here we go.
Chloe and I arrived at the rock pools after picking out a delicious picnic lunch of cheese and crackers, turkey meat, chips, Tim Tams (of course), and cherries. We started wandering around to look for a spot to park and indulge in our food. There surprisingly weren’t too many people there besides us, but I’m glad of that – it always saddens me when to many people are breaking up the simple beauty of nature.
We decided we didn’t particularly want to spend the afternoon watching little kids swim or people we didn’t know snap photos of us near any of the waterfalls, so we left everyone behind and ventured onto a small dirt trail.
In all honesty, this was one of the best days I have had in all of my time in Australia. The reason is because I was stunned by the natural beauty of the area; the shimmering rock pools that gave off a blue, mineral glow, the rich emerald tone to the foliage, and best of all, the faint noise of trickling water being the only sound we could hear besides ourselves. It is a wonder when people tell me they don’t like nature, maybe I am able to see something they cannot?
As we wandered, we came to a rock that looked perfect for relaxing and munching on our picnic lunch; however, in order to get there we had to cross this stream of water and then climb up these slippery rocks. This is where our trip suddenly goes from divine to inherently dangerous. Chloe and I dip our feet in the water to cross the stream innocently and are able to safely make it onto the rock. Once there, we throw our towels down and start laying out the food we brought excitedly because we are both ravenous. Casually I sit down and start opening the box of crackers when I feel something painful on the top of my foot. I glance down casually, thinking I cut myself on a rock or, when I tripped on the path, I snagged my foot on a branch and hadn’t noticed until now… no, I look down to see a wriggling, skinny black thing attached to my foot! Okay, I would like to say I stayed calm and pulled the leech off without panicking, but that would be a complete lie. As any pansy suburb girl would do, I started howling a very unnatural sound that was somewhat reminiscent to a howler monkey, grabbed the leech and ripped it away from my skin, started dancing up and down trying to get it off my finger, and finally managed to wipe the thing onto my towel. Chloe started laughing at me and, she admitted to me later, thought to herself, “Wow, overreaction just a bit…” She ate her words as soon as she looked down and saw she had one on her foot as well, then reacted much the same way as me. I stood there petrified and probably white as a sheet for a few minutes while the disgusting leech crawled across my towel like a worm. Of course, once I had my wits about me I did what any normal human-being would do… I pulled out my camera to get a picture! Okay, I admit, most people probably wouldn’t do that, but it was either take a picture and start laughing, or cry and throw up.
We finally got rid of both leeches, and so it was that Chloe and I both started laughing with shaky voices and I fought down the urge to throw up as we both sat down carefully. Just as the tension was beginning to dissipate, I heard Chloe startle a bit and looked up from the crackers I was finally feeling up to eating. A fairly small, but highly venomous spider was making its way towards us with precision and speed. Frantically, Chloe smashed it with her shoe… once again we were both breathing hard and staring at the corpse of the spider. I couldn’t tell you exactly what kind of spider it was, but everyone and their mother knows that black and read means you’re dead….
Now, I couldn’t tell you for certain if this was the arachnid aiming to kill us, but he is close enough to what our assassin looked like that I figured I’d post this picture. So, I know I have mentioned this before, but Australia is a dangerous place. Obviously a leach isn’t going to kill you, but I absolutely abhor them; however, a spider in Oz might actually kill you. I was a bit shocked sitting on the rock at this point. Never in my wildest dreams did I think such a beautiful place had such horrifying creatures hidden in it.
I will admit that the horror is nearly over, but the final piece comes later and so you just have to be patient and wait for it! The rest of our afternoon at the rock pools were quite hilarious and fun; a welcomed contrast. Us two shared hilarious stories about life, tied knots in our cherry stems, had a competition to see who could spit their pit the farthest (Chloe was the winner… I need to go back to being a kid and relearn how to spit!), and genuinely just enjoyed the afternoon. To give you an idea of how much fun it was, my jaw hurt from smiling and I definitely have sore abs today.
Finally, we noticed it was around 4 in the afternoon and we had planned to meet up with Ella if her essay was finished to watch some Game of Thrones later that night, so we made our way back to the car. This time, I refused to cross the stream with my feet in the water, and instead skipped across rocks. On our walk back, Chloe and I couldn’t help but admire our surroundings once again, such a stunning place….
After departing from this beautiful wonderland of water, we made our way back to Griffith. Now, if you know me fairly well then you know I am an absolute sucker for beautiful sunsets. In Australia I have had the pleasure of seeing only a few splendid sunsets because I am on the East Coast of Australia, so they are a rare treasure here. On our drive home, Chloe and I almost drove off the road because of how breathtaking the sky was. I tried to take pictures from the moving car, but that’s a fairly difficult thing to do, so we hastily pulled off the road and tried to find a high spot on the hillside that was relatively free of obstruction. I wish these pictures did the sunset justice… the entire sky was burning a brilliant red and pink at one point. There are moments in my life where my heart stops and I can’t even breathe because I am in awe of the world we live in – this was one of those moments.
Once we finally made it back to Griffith, we made the plan to shower quick and then grab some dinner; both of us felt slightly grimy and buggy from the leaches. When I met up later with Chloe, she told me she had a story for me. We hop in the car and decide to find a sushi place to eat at. As we are driving she tells me that when she went to take a shower, she took off her flip flops and noticed her foot was a bit bloody. Apparently, she reached down and another leech fell from her foot!! I have to admit, her description of what happened was a lot more gruesome and once again my face probably paled, immediately goose-bumps flashed on my skin, and I thought I might get sick. That meant that the whole time we were driving home she had that thing sucking at her foot. Seriously, so revolting! Needless to say, I have a new found fear, leeches.
Well, rather than end on that note I think I’ll tell you a bit about what else is going on. Last week was my last week of classes, so I am done for the whole semester! I lucked out and don’t have any final exams, only final assignments of which I have only one left to do and it’s all poetry. From now on, I am probably going to be bored out of my mind because everyone else will be studying and I have a few weeks left, but the good news is, I am enjoying reading several new books and plan on making the most of the time I have by spending time with my friends. I really can’t believe that I am almost home….
“If leeches ate peaches instead of my blood, then I would be free to drink tea in the mud!”
― Emilie Autumn, The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls