Come Fly With Me (Part One)

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I’ve been living quite a lot this past month or so. Apologies for the incredibly late post and not comforting you with my warm words in your cold climate. Or, if you’re also reading from a place of warmth, we’re connecting on such a deeper level right now.

One thing I had been dying to do my whole life was travel. My eagerness to leave routine and explore change was overwhelming as an early teenager and right now, I feel as though I have been transported back into my freshman year computer class, researching flights to anywhere for any length of time. The thrill, temptation, and excitement I felt was met with the disappointing realization that money exists and I don’t have it. Thankfully, I was fortunate enough to be able to travel during my time here in Australia and it has been the most satisfying thing I have done in my life thus far. It’s more than I imagined. It’s more than the hotel rooms, the fresh food, the new adventures–it allows a whole world to manifest in your mind filled with enlightening possibilities for your life. You can go anywhere, you should see everything, you can know everyone. You can also say no, hole yourself in, and judge others. You take what you want from each place and activity and decide what you like, what you don’t, and what you absolutely positively will never try (i.e. bungee jumping…probably).

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During my spring break, I traveled to Cairns in Queensland, Australia and upon stepping foot off the plane and having my hair frizz in the first two minutes, I knew I was going to have to look at this trip in a positive light and learn from what was to follow. When I arrived to the hostel/hotel/drunk-safe-haven-for-foreigners, I was greeted by a “dude” who insisted he must show me his new tattoo on his thigh that said something like, “I like school,” or “School is fun,” or something regarding that topic of life which he clearly did not finish. But after spending the day with “No-Worries-Too-Easy Pete,” I was intrigued as to what would come next. Would it be another uncomfortable joke? Another banana found in an abandoned stand off the road that tasted like an apple? Well, yes, but even better, we got to see beautiful rivers, waterfalls, and lakes all day. After sliding down a slippery rock, looking like a beached whale trying to climb it again, and being schooled by a 60 year old man, I figured I should just stay down at the bottom and videotape others enjoying themselves. When we arrived at the waterfall, I was amazed by the size, strength, and frigidness. Determined to swim underneath, I paddled and shivered for a few minutes until I was practically drowned by the weight of the water hitting my head. DO IT FOR THE VID! (GoPro vids to come, obvio). Lastly, we went to Lake Eachem, a beautiful lake that’s actually a bottomless pit above a volcano–I was just feeling so safe this day! The color of this lake was a blue I’d never seen before and rather than enjoy the sunset and a leisurely swim, we decided to jump off trees into the lake. What follows is just another chapter in my time here of painful mishaps: I bellyflopped from about 25 (+/-) feet from the tree. While people were thinking I died, I was under the water laughing at how stupid I was, how much pain I was in, and that this probably made a great GoPro video. No doubt, I looked like a fool and walked away with only a stinging torso and thigh–NOOOO WORRIESSSS.

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The next day was the real reason I came on the trip–a boat ride to the Great Barrier Reef! However, no one told us that this ride out there was 2.5 hours through treacherous ocean, thus making 1/3 of the people around me sea-sick. Fast forward through all the anxiety, meditation, and humming through closed ears, we made it to the island and I promise you’ve never seen water this blue (if you’re from New Jersey, then I REALLY promise you. Brown is not a normal ocean color…) When I submerged myself, I was amazed that I was finally in the place where Sabrina the Teenaged Witch’s movie, “Down Under”, opened with shots from this gorgeous underwater world while playing “Octopus’s Garden.” Ah memories. After unsuccessfully getting no pictures of sharks or turtles, I was content with the few fish I followed aimlessly, coral I was oh-so-tempted to touch, and the overall attractiveness I had with my wetties, goggles, and snorkel gear on. My invasive camera pole captured rare moments that could be gone in a few decades–I feel so lucky to have been able to almost drown in the middle of it (I swear I’m a good swimmer but when you have that snorkeling gear in your mouth and you swallow water and you look up and the waves are flapping and you see no one around, it just kinda makes you feel like Tom Hanks or Robert Redford). Screenshot 2014-04-07 14.46.55Screenshot 2014-04-07 14.47.14Screenshot 2014-04-07 14.55.42Screenshot 2014-04-07 14.56.26Screenshot 2014-04-07 14.52.14Screenshot 2014-04-07 14.49.03

While Cairns reminded me of a bad, grimy Jersey shore town, I loved everything I did there. I went on a minjin swing, swam with fish, bellyflopped hardcore–it was all so memorable and without a doubt, the best spring break I’ve had. It certainly beats working at a bagel shop in NJ and binge-watching a show on Netflix. My screams, laughs, and fears were met with satisfaction and pride once I did it all. I feel like this break finally made me realize; this is what it feels like to travel. It feels freeing. Exciting. Scary. Happy. That’s all I wanted and that’s all I got. (Due to the length of this post, I’ve decided to split it into two or three parts (like my soul). Stay tuned for blog posts about the second half of spring break and life post-holiday including internships, watching more movies than is healthy, and one last hurrah!)

Ta,

Mariana ❤

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