Orpheus Island (Feb. 4 - Feb. 19)When I arrived on the island I was greeted by: the managers (Kylie and Rob, who also have 2 little girls), the assistant managers (Louise and Lachin and their little girl, Siara), and the researchers (Yui and his two volunteers - Dan and Jeremy). I spent my first week on Orpheus with Kylie, Rob, their 2 girls, and Yui, Dan, and Jeremy (Louise and Lachin had a 4-day break).
Yui is from Japan and is currently working on his master's degree at James Cook University studying black-band disease in corals. He was hilarious. Constantly talking. And he loved using Australian expressions: "git it down ya," "g'day mate,"no worries," "heaps," and then he has a few of his own: "sure, why not" (his answer to most questions) and "no, not really" (he never said no. If you asked him if there was any ketchup left, he'd say no not really, which really meant "no" there was none left at all). The best though was that all of these expressions were said in a mixed Japanese-Australian accent.
Both Dan and Jeremy were on the island to assist Yui with his research. Dan is from England and has travelled all over the world diving as a research assistant (Lizard Island in Australia, Indonesia, Oman, Hondoras, Madagascar and probably others that I can't remember). He also loves nudibranchs (sea slugs). I think one of his favorite things about them is how they have sex: nudibranchs are hermaphrodites, and when two encounter each other, they battle with their penises. The one that wins becomes the male and stabs the other (now the female) in the side with his penis and releases his sperm. That's a good piece of random trivia, huh? Jeremy is from Detroit, but has been living in Australia and studying at James Cook University for the past 2 years.
I shared a communal area and kitchen with the 3 guys and loved it. They immediately befriended me and from that first night until their last night on the island, we always had breakfast and dinner together - just like a family! Everyday the guys would go to different sites around Orpheus or to other neighboring islands to survey coral colonies for black-band disease. A couple times I worked extra long days (or not at all...) and got to spend the day on the boat with them, snorkeling at some really amazing sites.
When I wasn't hanging out with the guys, I was either cleaning floors and bathroom walls, weeding, scrubbing the hulls of boats, mowing the grass, blowing leaves off the pathways (That was a bit of a pointless job, like sweeping leaves off the forest floor), reading, or walking along/across the island.
Yui, Dan, and Jeremy left me on a Saturday and for the next week it was just Lachin, Louise, Siara, and me on the island. I thought it would be lonely at first, but I actually had a lot of fun and got a ton of reading done (3 books: You Shall Know Our Velocity, Everything is Illuminated, and Extremely Loud, Incredibly Close - all very good). I love Louise, Lachin, and Siara. During the week: Louise and Siara usually cleaned with me in the mornings, and it was such a nice change to have company doing those menial chores (I'm kind of an idiot and didn't bring my iPod with me on this trip); most mornings Louise and I would swim out along the pipeline - a pretty good swim - and then snorkel around looking at the coral and fish for awhile; Siara and I became good buddies - she is such a beautiful little girl, with a head full of soft, blonde curls and huge brown eyes; both Lachin and Louise invited my over for chicken curry one evening (one of my absolute favorites) and we spent the whole night eating, drinking, talking, and listening to some really good Australian bands (check out The Waifs, The Cat Empire, and The John Butler Trio).
Louise, Lachin, and Siara left Orpheus the same morning I did for a 1 month vacation. They offered to drive me to Townsville, which was perfect as Jeremy lived in Townsville and said I could crash at his place if I wanted. We stopped briefly in Ingham at a local bakery and Lachin bought me a chicken curry pie. Savory pies are amazing and I don't understand why they aren't popular in the States. We don't know what we're missing... The drive to Townsville was about an 1 1/2 and I sat in the back playing with Siara and dozing off and on. After a couple wrong turns, Lachin drove me right up to Jeremy's driveway and transferred me from one group of amazing people to another.