I've lost track of days now and apologize for not posting over the last few.
Monday morning we flew from Honolulu to Sydney, leaving a bit late due to a strike in Sydney, and arrived late Tuesday evening in Sydney too late to catch our flight to Cairns. Qantas Airlines, though, was very much on top of things.
They put us up for the night at the Hotel Mercurio at the Sydney airport, with breakfast and dinner included (the staff of the hotel was also excellent). (Because our Qantas flight from Honolulu was an hour late, they also gave each of us a $10 food voucher to use in the airport; when our American Airlines flight was an hour late they gave each us a free set of headphones for the flight.) Qantas placed us on two separate flights that next morning and we safely arrived in Cairns Wednesday morning and early afternoon.
We expected the weather in Australia to be a bit chilly, but it is chillier than we expected, which means a few of us will be shopping for a new coat. The Aussies are extremely friendly and their sense of humor is simply fantastic!
Yesterday we went to the Great Barrier Reef and, despite winds of 30 knots (!) and much sea-sickness (from which I thankfully did not suffer) had a great time. The reef is simply stunning. I'm not sure what else to say about it until we get some pictures developed.
Several of the kids went snorkeling with underwater cameras. I stayed out of the water. It was too chilly for my arthritis which, despite vanishing in Hawaii as expected has expectedly returned in Australia (which means my energy level - which seemed endless in Hawaii (I wore some of the kids out but remained fine myself!) is lesser now. Considerably. But I still have enough energy for each day, by the grace of God.
Last night after teaching a few of the boys how to do laundry (there's something you probably didn't think your parish priest might teach you!) we went for dinner and I took them a gelati shop not far from the hostel where we are staying. They had never even heard of gelati and since I hadn't failed them yet with introducing them to delicious food and beautiful scenery they agreed to come along.
It was absolutely heavenly! I had chocolate and raspberry and it reminded me very much of my Roman holidays and tasted perfectly authentic. The lady at the shop told us she would be up at 4:00 this morning making more gelati and would be eating by 9:00 a.m. I'll be eating it shortly after Noon. And again after dinner.
We're taking a bit of a quiet day this morning, giving time for others to sleep, rest and do their own laundry. This afternoon we hope to visit the Cathedral of St. Monica and celebrate the Holy Mass there.