Farewell…and a surprise

It was a gloomy breaky to be sure.  All of us had the end-of-the-trip blues.

We’ve taken enough trips together to see it coming, however, and put some speed bumps in place.
But before I tell you about the end, I have to go back to the beginning.  At the beginning of our trip, knowing there could possibly be a slight chance of crabbiness through the grueling days of flights, we had made a deal.  Whoever got called out for being crabby would have to eat a spoonful of Vegamite.
No one did.  We did try some on toast.  Most of us found it disgusting beyond words.  It is sooo salty and bitter.  What we learned is that from a very early age, Aussie children eat sandwiches made of cheese and Vegamite the eay we eat peanut butter and jelly.  It is supposedly very high in Vitamin B and the theory is that after all those years of high doses of B the mossies no longer like the Aussies.
Believe me,  if I thought I could consume enough of that nasty stuff to avoid looking and feeling like I have the chicken pox, I would have eaten it by the gallon.  But apparently, it takes more time.  I asked.
So, on our return, our deal is this.  Whoever gets crabby on the return ridiculousness home gets assigned to cat chore duty the whole first week home.
But that morning, we all were more than a bit down in the mouth.  At breakfast we just looked at each other trying to muster up not only the energy to go home, but adding to it the knowledge of the dreaded travel time.
My husband (gosh, I love that guy) suddenly announced that we were under-budget for our trip.
We weren’t sure what that meant, but we felt good about it because the kids and I had eaten several meals in at the beginning of the trip to save on costs and I had used coupons and done my research to get us the very best deals possible.
By the way, food costs here are beyond ridiculous.  We learned that though food and clothes are extremely high-priced, wages are higher here to compensate.
That didn’t help our food budget any.
But the good news is, we had not come up short.  On previous trips I swear we made it home on our last dollar.  Kinda scary when you are on the other side of the world!
So, get to the point, Alison.
“We are under budget, guys!” he said with a smile.  “I am going to go call our snorkeling guys and see if they have four seats available this afternoon.  If they do, we’ll go one more time.  If they don’t, we move on.”
Our jaws hit the floor. Our hopes soared.  We tried to hear his phone call at the desk.
The best news ever.  We were in.
We packed in record time, happily drove two hours back down the coastline, ate some lunch and made it onto the boat.
The company we chose, we chose for three reasons.  One, they get us out to a fantastic snorkeling spot in fifteen short minutes.  Everyone else is a half or full day trip.  Too many times, too many places, we have been stuck on a long boat ride back from somewhere with that guy or that gal.  You know the ones.  The ones who talk or complain loudly THE ENTIRE TIME!  Seriously, that alone made us want a quick boat ride.
Two, quality. These guys get fantastic reviews on Tripadvisor–my travel planning scoop.
Three, cost.  Since it wasn’t a half or full day trip, the price (plus a coupon) was great.
So when our guide saw us again, he was happy, and in return he made us very happy by letting us “repeat offenders” skip his usual instruction spiel and get our own equipment ready and jump into the water well ahead of everyone else which meant 15-20 extra minutes in the water.
He also knew that my wish to see a sea turtle had gone unfulfilled on the first trip.  He made huge efforts to go look for sea turtles and point us in their direction.
And he did it.  And we saw them.  And it was magical.
I’m swimming along and I look up and Rob says, “Over there!” and I get so excited that I start swimming with every thing I’ve got.  I’m swimming so hard that I’m quickly out of breath and energy and making silly mistakes and taking in water–sputter, cough!
And then I see him.  Gliding along down about three feet and I dive down and reach my hand out and he looks back at me with his big, soulful eyes and pushes ahead just out of my reach.  And, though my heart is pounding out of my chest and I’m laughing aloud through my snorkel, I flip my flippers even harder and put my hand on his shell and we swim!!
I quickly came up and hollered for my family who all swam over and began having their own swim time–Justin and I with one and Kyrsten and Christian with another.
I have no words beyond that.
God allowed yet another of my dreams to come true.
We swam on.  This time feeling much more comfortable in the water.  We all dove down as far as our ears would allow us to see bright blue starfish and swim with schools of fluorescent fellas.
Justin came up to tell me he had just spent several minutes following (and videotaping) a 4ft. white-tip shark.
We saved that information for Kyrsten until after we got out of the water. :o)
By the time our time was up, we were pretty pooped, and we felt like we had done that as much as we could.  We all had perma-grin for the rest of the day and somehow felt more ready to fly home now.  As ready as we could be.
We drove another hour to Cairns to the Palm Royale–the hotel at which we began our trip, did some laundry, ordered some pizza, and headed to bed by 8:00.
That 2:00am alarm was going to feel rotten no matter how we sliced it.
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