So, as I realised last week that I somehow spent a three week chunk of my budget in just over a week, I decided to get a wriggle on down the coast and moved on to Mission Beach as someone told me there "wasn't much to do" and I "wouldn't spend much money" there. Between being picked up from the bus stop and arriving at the hostel I had already agreed to do a 14,000 ft skydive, thus spending another weeks worth of budget in one go by signing up for something that I wasn't sure I would be coming out of alive. (Although this would solve my money problems, I would also be dead, therefore chances of further enjoying my trip are somewhat limited). Before leaping to my untimely demise, I spoke to a few people who had already done it and questioned just how terrifying freefalling through the air was. They all assured me that it would be the most thrilling and surreal thing I have ever done and that it doesn't actually feel like you're falling at all. I can now speak from experience and glady tell you that when one minute you're in a plane 14,000 ft in the air, and the next you are plummeting towards the ground at God knows how many miles per hour, you can tell that you're falling. The sixty seconds prior to the parachute opening were probably the most horror-filled moments of my life when it occured to me just what I had done and I kept having hideous flashbacks from an episode of Hollyoaks I once watched when a girl jumped out of a plane an her parachute didn't open... Obviously, as I am still here, my parachute did open and I lived to tell the tale. What I did not (almost) live through was running into a cassowary whilst on a walk up a mountain with two German girls from my hostel. I'm not entirely sure their English stretched to, "fucking hell, there's a bird about to eat us", but I think they got the point when it ran past us, in a surprisingly camp manner, and had us frozen to the spot for about ten minutes in case it came back/was still around/had gone to get friends. I knew nothing good was going to come from going on a "bushwalk". Bushwalk is the term Australians use when they mean 'slow, life-threatening torture'. I think it's the equivalent of a leisurely walk through the woods in England (an activity I have partaken in only about three times since I was fifteen), only instead of the woods, it's vertical up a mountain, instead of rabbits, it's birds that kick you to death, and instead of pleasant English weather, it is 100 degrees and sweat is dripping from places I didn't even know had sweat glands. We were so traumatised by the whole ordeal that the long walk back to the hostel seemed all too much to cope with and we hitch-hiked a ride back with an Australian couple. Unfortunately for us, we had to squish ourselves in the back, still sweating, amongst half a trampoline, a dog basket, and a children's car seat. It wasn't the most confortable ride of my life, but the more distance put between my face and the kicking bird, the better.
Just in case the cassowary, the bushwalk, the hitch-hike and the skydive were not enough to scare me into never leaving the house again, a stranger on the beach put his snake around my neck. (Not a euphemism, an actual python). There I was, wandering along the beach, daydreaming of simpler times when I could afford bread, when a man started chatting to me. I chatted happily back for a few minutes when I suddenly realised he was holding a snake. "Oh, my snake?" he says, as though he was simply walking a border collie down the beach, "beauty, isn't she? Here, try her on!" and before I knew it, "she", bless her, was around my neck, 'purring' (i.e angrily hissing) and tightening her grip in a not entirely unworrying manner. After what felt like an eternity on my shoulders, the snake was finally removed as a woman and her child came over to investigate. Being Australian, and also clearly insane, they had no objection whatsoever in holding the snake whilst I took a photo for them and the woman either did not receive or just chose to ignore my telepathic messages that clearly said, "it's going to eat your child" every time the snake 'yawned'... Who knew I was so maternal?
After all the horrors of Mission Beach, I decided it was time to move on again before I eventually came to a sticky end. Understandably, the Australian Greyhound buses are a lot smaller than the American ones that I'm used to, I just wish I'd not discovered this as I attempted to lie myself down across two seats, fell off, and subsequently became wedged in between my seat and the seat in front. After a fair struggle, I managed to eventually heave myself out and sat in a quiet dignity for the following 18 hours with the group of people who had just witnessed my downfall and were, naturally, getting off at my stop. Just as I was congratulating myself at the beach later on in the day on my tanning upgrade from milk-bottle white to egg-shell white, the group from the bus strolled past, followed by not one but twelve Australians carrying surfboards who, in comparison to me, looked pretty much a different race. Tanning progress = nil.