Me, skinny dipping in a natural waterfall pool in Australia. YOLO!

G’day mate!

Floating on my back naked under a natural waterfall during a tropical rain storm in December was a truly magical experience.

In the crappiest weather ever, Jolene picked me up in her van and whisked me off to explore the Australian rainforest — for the most unforgettable hike of my life 🙌🏽

This was definitely the highlight of my short, Australian vacation.
Poet, artist, muse, and mother: Jolene Reyes-Collyer

It is such a small world! We matched on Tinder and after we followed each other on Instagram, I saw that my IRL crush has an Instagram crush on Jolene! We talked about it a little on our date — that was fun.

I was ill-prepared for the rainforest. She had given me just 20 minutes to get ready. I had no rain gear. I forgot to bring a towel. I had on white high top shoes. Not ideal, but we made it work 😅

I loved tromping around in the rainforest in my boxers, slipping on rocks, getting drenched, grabbing on roots, climbing boulders, floating around looking out for stonefishes and leeches in a waterfall, and even watching for crocodiles.

Sidenote: In Cairns, when someone sees a croc, they simply put up a ‘no swimming' sign and hope for the best! There have been lots of humans eaten by them…but they’re endangered, so they go free.

Jolene grew up swimming on this trail, and she showed me the places where the rocks had slid and the trees had fallen. That afternoon with Jolene was the best 😍

Two days earlier…
I’m on a boat! In the Coral Sea (Outer Great Barrier Reef, Australia)

There were tons of people on the dive boats. Japanese tourists. Couples. There was even a baby! But somehow I ended up connecting with four other English-speaking solo travelers.

Making friends

After I left the boat, I got a group text between my new dive buddies and we met up for dinner that night sans Karina. She was the organizer, but she ditched us because her flight was super early the next morning and she had to do laundry.

After dinner, I met up with my Airbnb host for drinks and she drove me home.

Jasveen from Canada was with me when I skipped my first dive. She went on to travel to Brisbane and New Zealand, and hung out with kangaroos and koalas (I’m so jealous!) She was staying at the same hostel as Sophie, so she got left off the group text for dinner. But I follow her on Instagram now. On my last day in Cairns I was at the mall and heard my name, “Catrina!” I thought I was trippin, but it was Jasveen on her way to get food and head to the airport (I had just eaten).

Sophie, a doctor from Holland, was my cabin mate and dive buddy. She left early the next morning for more beach. I felt bad, though, because Tropical Cyclone Owen was still pummeling the shore. Sophie was pissed because Owen was apparently following her around — from Uluru Mountain to the Great Barrier Reef, to down Australia’s Gold Coast. I still owe her pictures! She literally gave me a Hotmail email address to send them to. She was with me when our guide lost his way and we had to surface without a safety stop, with our air meters in the red zone! The water’s surface was very choppy and hard to swim in. It was scary and fun to put our snorkels in and kick our way back to the boat on the surface.

Karina was Jasveen’s roomie on the liveaboard boat. She keeps an apartment in the Bay, but she lives in SoCal.

The captain kept on openly flirting with Karina, which was really hard to watch:

“Pass the sugar, honey!” —creepy captain

She almost convinced me to change my plans and tag along with her to the Outback! I’m sad it didn’t work out because she was in Sydney the night after me — and it was her 27th birthday. I’m definitely trying to hang out with Karina again.

It’s incredibly hard to find travel buddies who also scuba.

Kassem from Denmark showed up at dinner on the liveaboard boat without a roommate. He fell out of a chair during the 3–4 hour rocky boat ride back to shore. He shares my love for trap music, and can rap the lyrics to Kendrick Lamar’s song Humble, word for word. Even the fast parts. And like me, he skips the N-word 😊

The 21 year old Copenhagener

I ran into him again on my last day in Cairns and we wandered around downtown in the pouring rain for hours and hours.

He held the umbrella for me. And let me win at pool 😊

The kid was hilarious — he couldn’t get over the fact that we were hanging out because we’re so different. He’s ethnically Palestinian, but Danish by birth. A Copenhagener. But his parents both lived in refugee camps in Lebanon. I liked hanging out with Kassem and I probably will never see him again. I hope he gets to visit his ancestral land one day—it’s currently being occupied by Israel 😡🤬

The only Aboriginal people I saw were street urchins begging rich tourists for money — Kassem said their plight reminded him of the systemic oppression of Native Americans. He wasn’t wrong.

Hope you’re enjoying my Australia stories. This is way easier than having to tell them over and over again. I heard from Jolene that the storm got even worse after I left! Till next time. xx