Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I've got the Black Lung, Pop.

I head back to the states on May 16th. That's in 6 days. 

Shit is bananas. 

A moment ago, I was watching fireworks at the Sydney Harbour Bridge to ring in the New Year. Now, I'm plotting ways to avoid American Airlines from slapping a fee on my checked bags and carry-on cardigans. Where did the time go?

In celebration of my departure from the land down under, Katie and I took one last trip up to Queensland. If I were a compulsive liar, I'd tell you that we went up there to assist with the flood relief and find a way to keep bananas from being $12 a kg. Unfortunately, I'm neither a liar nor a saint. Instead, we went up to Queensland to do nothing, sleep in, go to the beach, meet people, eat, drink and be merry. We're so selfish. 

We got up to the Gold Coast/Surfer's Paradise late on the 27th, and it was raining. Then, we realized we missed the shuttle back to our hostel. Then, we walked around aimlessly in desperate search of our hostel. Then, we walked around aimlessly in a desperate search for for food that had a menu in English. Soon, though, it stopped raining, we found our hostel, dropped off our overpackedforaweek'stime bags and finally found food.

Dining at the elegant Hard Rock Cafe, we feasted on a decent cheeseburger and a fat glass of beer - our vacation had begun! We nestled into our tissue paper sheets and fluffed up our Legal Pad of a pillow and drifted asleep to the sweet sounds of beer bottles clanging and toilets flushing every 20 minutes.

The next day, it rained. 
The day after that, it rained. 
The day after that, it rained some more. But I demanded we suffer through the sand blasted wind chills for the sake of my bronzed skin.

On the way to the appropriately deserted beach, we met a guy in a kiosk. His hair looked as if it had been styled with Redbull & Vodka. 

And so began the spiel. 

"Look, you're American, I'm American. Let's cut a deal. What's your hostel charging for the club crawl? 30 bucks each? I've got a better deal. I'll give you a buy-one-get-one-free party pass - only $60 bucks."


"I'll give you 5 free drinks, free entry to all the bars in Queensland on Thursday night for Ladies Night, free food at the bars, hanging out with me all night (he winked just now), and free entry all night to the bars on Friday. That cool? Alright, I'll book you in. What are your names?" 

"We don't have any money on us."

"Do you have credit cards?"

"Yeah, in our hostel."

"Alright cool, we'll just mark you down for Friday night for the Wicked Party Tour with me. I'll just need your money before I can give you all your sick passes."

"No, like, we don't have any money on us. As in, we can't give you any right now because it is not in our possession."

This little exchange went on for about 10 minutes too long. Eventually, out of pity and boredom we agreed to go on the club crawl with Wicked Party Tours and Winky McSellsmeshit. We figured if we were going to go out at all, we might as well get the best deal. Club entries in Surfer's Paradise are about 10 bucks at the door, and drinks cost about the same. So, 1 club entry and 2 drinks for 30 bucks? Grow up. Besides, Katie was sold on "free food." 

Looking back, the night was hilarious. In the moment, the night was awkward, humid and smelled of drunk sweat. You know what I'm talking about. 

The most awkward thing about the night was that the crawl started at 5pm. Everyone was lingering around each other, commenting on how hungry they were and how they weren't drunk enough to be drinking the weird radioactive energy drink they gave us. Except, however, except the people that wanted to take the term "crawl" literally - they were already exclaiming "WOO!" in various octaves and dancing to the sick dubstep beats in their heads. 

The awkwardness subsided at about 10:30 and the night suddenly became fun. At that time, we were at a club with a lavish resort for a bathroom and everyone began to lose their inhibitions. Which means! Cracking jokes at people having dry sex on the dance floor, making new friends, being lumped in that pre-existing group of friends and reaping the benefits when someone says "this round's on me!"

We escaped the club just as the ripe stench of alcohol was seeping out of everyone's pores. On the way home, Katie honed in on a 24 hour pizza joint with $3 slices of margherita pizza. I think in another life she should have been a Bloodhound. That schnoz can find food from miles away. 

And the consensus is: I still hate clubbing.

The next day, I was dying. My voice was completely gone and my nose might as well have been stuffed with corks. I think God was punishing me for going clubbing. Both for that I was being debaucherous, and because I wasn't helping rectify the banana crisis. 

After our stint with the tiny town that's perpetually on Spring Break, we headed to the sunny, beautiful, quaint city of Cairns.

Cairns was a trip filled with much more nature-fueled activities, better food, a hostel that doubled as a luxury hotel and feeble attempts at keeping my illness from evolving into the Black Lung. Being on the Great Barrier Reef for 9 hours was warm, brilliant and absolutely unforgettable. However, I think the group of foreigners in front of me could not have been more grossed out at how much snot was running out of my nose and into my napkin. 

What's important, though, is that I was getting a tan. Deathly ill on the inside, bronze and hot on the outside. My priorities are totally in line. 

Katie was keen on being submerged in a rainforest. I, on the other hand, was keen on shriveling up and dying.  Due to my failing as a self-propelled doctor, the rest of the trip for me was hard on my body. I'm convinced that I lost a lung at some point during our adventures. But I was in Cairns! I couldn't waste our days getting drunk on cough syrup and buying prepaid internet cards - I had to make it memorable. Sick or not. 

And what's more memorable than biking 28 miles to a body of water? We rented bikes and rode up to this little spot called the Crystal Cascades. It was a pretty little spot with a slew of waterfalls, swimming holes and creeks. And aside from my developing pneumonia and getting a taste of what my wedding night will feel like (bike seats on long-distance rides are unforgiving), it was a beautiful day. Later that night we feasted on some overpriced Australian-native animals and onion rings. Immediately after, we went back to the hostel suite so I could be horizontal and go to bed at 9:30.

If you're wondering, Kangaroo tastes like an overcooked sirloin. And if you're also wondering, I'm a douche bag for eating a precious Kangaroo.