Wow, an incredible amount has happened since I last blogged and it has only been a few days. Orientation week has been awesome and this country is beautiful beyond belief. Yes, so so beautiful, but filled with the most poisonous creatures and I fear for my skin every time I step out in the sun, but that is beside the point.
FIRST OF ALL, CIEE students in both the Arts & Sciences and Conservation, Ecology, and Sustainability programs went to Caversham Wildlife Park on Tuesday of this week. It was 40+ degrees out (remember, Celsius. Why do we use Fahrenheit again?) Here is where I got to cuddle/pet/selfie with kangaroos, pet koalas with two fingers only, sit next to a wombat, and hold a snake. In case you don’t know, I hate snakes so this is quite a big deal. Here I am with my new friends.
If you would care to see the photos of the other animals you may refer to Facebook.
Following the Wildlife Park experience, we had our first Australian pie experience. Apparently, pie is a matter to be taken very seriously. There are about 20+ different meat pie combinations that I have since stumbled upon in bakeries and restaurants. The food chain that we went to “Jester’s” is what our leader calls “the pie shop”. Since Tuesday, I have had about 8 pies because we are often taken to a bakery where this is the only source of protein in the place. I very much enjoyed my chicken and vegetable pie today (it was basically a Marie Calendar’s chicken pot pie) and the other day I enjoyed an egg bacon and mushroom pie as well as a spinach and feta pie. I think I am done with pies for now.
As of an hour ago, I returned from an island off the coast called Rottnest Island. I learned during my two days there that this was named because the Europeans thought that the animal that inhabited the island was a rat and therefore referred to it as ratnest island. Little did they know that this little defenseless creature was not a rat, but rather an adorable, defenseless marsupial that is endagered by feral cats. Oh, and they like to smile!
Our group stayed in two old military barracks that were filled with bunk beds. We toured the whole island on bicycles with extremely uncomfortable seats, but it was so fun! There are no private cars on the island and the only other way around is by a slow and lazy tour bus (no offense), so we stayed active, soaked up a lot of sun, and viewed amazing coastlines. The water is so clear there that you can see everything from the bike path essentially. I got to see my first of, hopefully, many shipwrecks. We biked until we reached Salmon Bay and went for a dip. This was also our first time snorkeling and it was a blast. It was a hot day and after many steep hills on the bike it felt so great to relax in the crystal clear waters. We stayed for quite a while, allowing me to get very sunburned. Fish and chips were had for dinner overlooking the boat docks. Our group strolled back to our accommodations along the beach making sure not to be attacked by the quokkas. There were hundreds of quokkas encountered on the way back, since they are nocturnal animals.
This morning, a group of students and I woke up to see the sunrise along the beach at 6 a.m. Unfortunately, it was too cloudy to see the sunrise and nobody could get time-lapse photos, but it was still refreshing to have the salty air upon my face and to enjoy the sea breeze. One of the girls even lead us through a small yoga class in the sand. We packed up our stuff and biked over to The Basin for some more snorkeling. Again, it was incredible. Here, you only have to walk about three large steps before you find a coral reef and small fish swimming around. The water is perfect temperature and clarity. What more is there to ask for? We went into the town for our lunch and then headed back to the ferry for our quick 45 minute trip back to Freo. It was a bumpy ride and about 5 people got sick. Glad it wasn’t me! I am hoping to go to Rottnest again before I leave. I am very grateful for these orientation experiences. Now, it is time for the weekend. Classes begin Monday already, so this weekend I want to go to Cottesloe beach, get coffee in Freo, and send off some postcards in town. Oh yeah, and maybe get some school supplies, too…..