Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Reflections on Townsville

We've ended up staying here in Townsville for about 7 months. I'm grateful for the times we've had here - as my friend Natalie said, 'it will be an experience'. Living in North QLD has been like living in another state! It's really quite different up here compared to South East Queensland, which is what we're accustomed to. For starters - the people are more relaxed. They talk more slowly (my brother paid me out on the phone the other day because I must have picked up a bit of the Townsville drawl) but also things get done slower. But funnily, no one drives slowly! I've never once seen a cop out on the roads doing speed checks... and hence, no one follows the speed limits (except, it seems, for me!). The quality, communication and speed of workmanship can sometimes be a bit less than what we're used to in a capital city. Townsville seems to be trying to be a bigger city than it's people and infrastructure are ready for.
Townsville street - post Cyclone Yasi
There is a lot more tropical fruit available and I've enjoyed trying out all sorts of delicious foods that grow so well up here in the warmer climate. My favourites have been star fruit (Carambola), Mangoes (of course!), Persimmons, Achacha and Dragon Fruit (Pitaya). 
The downside is that almost all groceries (apart from locally grown fruit and veg at the markets) is much more expensive. People tell me it's because of the crazy systems we have in place. The food is grown up here, is sent down south (as far as Sydney), packaged and then sent back up here again. So we end up paying more because of the many miles the food has travelled. What a waste of fuel!
Me enjoying a red Dragon fruit!
The weather is much more intense up here. It has been super hot and humid - I don't know how we would have coped without the little window aircon unit we bought second hand. Of course, there is the ever-present threat (and sometimes reality) of cyclones. I've already written at length about Cyclone Yasi. There is still the very real threat of another cyclone forming before the season is through. Fingers are very very crossed that this won't happen!!!! Surprisingly, I've become used to living by the beach but not thinking about ever swimming in it. The stingers annoyingly frequent the waters here over summer - just when you want to swim! I haven't seen any crocodiles yet but I'm sure that will change. I've loved hearing and seeing different bird life - peaceful doves, black cockatoos and herons abound.
These signs line the beaches.
We've met some lovely people here in the marina - friends I hope to stay in contact with for many years to come. Almost everyone here is pretty friendly.. but then, I think I'm learning how to get along with more varied people too. Cruising does that to people (so I've been told). I'm definitely a lot more outgoing with meeting new people. Which is just as well really, because otherwise I'd have been pretty lonely!
A gorgeous sunset in the marina - full of lovely salty folk.
What has also been fantastic about staying here is that many of our family were able to visit! We miss our family and friends dearly - so it was very special that they could visit and share some of the beauty of this place.

Practicing at home :)
What I've loved so far about cruising is that doors have opened up that I never thought of before. My most favourite thing about staying in Townsville is that I discovered Ashtanga Yoga. I absolutely love it. It is my bliss. I've been learning the Primary Series at Live and Breathe Yoga above the mall in the city centre. The teacher, Allison, and her partner, Harry, are lovely people and the classes feel very comfortable. They are genuine, unpretentious, giving people. I probably laugh a little too loudly at my body when it does curious things (last week, Allison ended up with my feet landing on her shoulders... not where they were supposed to go!). But I'm having fun learning and getting stronger. I want to continue practicing but am worried about my ability to hold postures that require a lot of balance while we're anchored in places that aren't flat calm.. or while we're sailing! If it is too bouncy out there on the water, I plan on learning the Sanskrit names for each of the postures.

I've spent most of my time preparing Anima for our journey further north. This process has also meant that I've been preparing myself mentally and physically for the coming months. Our first cruise up to here was very challenging for me. I flipped between liking it and being so scared that I wanted off. I think I'm going to be a bit less afraid this time. The boat is better equipped and I'm more certain of what I want to achieve. My goal is to make it to Singapore.. from there, we'll reassess what to do next. I know we'll need to work and make more money. We won't have much (if any) left by November. Rene would like us to keep cruising - to sail the world. I'm keen to continue travelling too... but I also have other things I'd like to do. So, we'll see.

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