On our flight from Christchurch to Queensland, Australia, the passengers on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 weighed heavy on our minds, particularly when traversing such a large expanse of sea.
Skimming above the Great Barrier Reef making our decent into Cairns (the gateway to reef exploration) – a collective sigh was audible. Awe, certainly, of the aquatic opals beneath, but in one passenger’s pinched mouth and raised brow, I imagined her prayer that perhaps – just maybe – there could be a miracle for the lost passengers aboard that ill-fated flight.
Escaping the hustle of Cairns (pronounced “Cans”), Richard and I took a shuttle to our final destination – Port Douglas; a beach town whose small-town feel and hip sensibilities reminded me of Ann Arbor, minus winter’s frigid temps. It’s a town where the Great Barrier Reef meets the Daintree Rain Forest, our planet’s most ancient forest – what’s not to like?
Maybe the monstrous spiders, icky creepy-crawlies, box jellyfish and saltwater crocs…or perhaps it’s the thousands of bats screeching through the skies each evening (it’s mating season in March). So you take precautions, such as wearing a stinger suit to thwart jellyfish when snorkeling, and get used to sharing space with the critters. After a few days, you wonder why you were concerned in the first place.
Because it’s rainy season in the wet tropics, the tourists have diminished, which makes for ideal, stress-free exploration. A free upgrade in our accommodation, reduced tariffs across the board, no waits to explore the reef or get the best table when dining; paradise, enow! We carry our umbrella, rumor has it a cyclone is brewing off the coast, but only once has it rained.
We’re at that stage in the journey where simplicity is appreciated, and that applies to the menu. What we enjoy most are the fruits; fruits we’ve never tasted. We could live off of the fruits found at the market in Port Douglas! An “apple”, for instance, so sweet, luscious, and creamy it’s aptly called a custard apple. A spiked, red-headed fruit –rambutan – chewy, sweet and slightly sour, somewhat like a grape – but way more fun to eat. .
Most of you don’t have access to these fruits – I don’t in Michigan – so the following recipe has been modified to suit whatever fruits are available to you. As with my last two New Zealand blogs, I’ve included a sprinkle of images from Queensland below. Some were taken at a wildlife refuge, others in the Daintree vacinity.