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Reports

Wednesday, 1 May 2002
--> Great Keppel Island, another day

This morning I woke up pretty early, but that wasn’t that hard. I made myself a sandwich for breakfast and around 8 o’clock whoever wanted to come along could join on the 4x4-tour that Geoff organizes in the morning.

Of course I was there. I already knew this island was pretty big and if you can leap it by truck, it would be much better. On a mattress in the back op his pickup truck we were all driven around. The sun was already very hot. At one of the island lookout points, I couldn’t resist asking the Canadian guys if they like honey. (See yesterday's report) “Yes, I love honey!” one said excited. Okay, that explains last nights wake-up calls. I didn’t ask about lesbians though…



Back at the camp I meandered around and read a book in one of the hammocks. Life is easy if lived like this. The only worries I have is to get a light when the sun goes down, haha.

In the afternoon I was asked by my dorm-roommates to come along for some snorkeling on Monkey Beach, on the east part of the island. We got our gear at the reception and walked some 30 minutes to that part of the island. We were told (and shown on a map) that Monkey Beach had a coral reef, which is excellent to snorkel around on. I definitely had to see that, of course!

When we arrived, I couldn’t wait to get the goggles on my head and the flipper on my feet and got into the water. The water was very shallow for a long while, it got no deeper dan two-and-a-half metres, even though I was over 100 metres away from the beach.

The bottom was dusty grey, most of what I saw was washed on reminders of what once was a fertile seabed, as usual near shores. But within minutes I was actually swimming right above this big tuna fish. I followed it around and I could have actually touched it with my bare hands if I wanted.

But I kept on snorkeling and discovered the coral reef, however it was in a part where the water caught heavy winds and this all created huge waves in which I was still just snorkeling around, trying to get my air pipe empty most of the time. But below me was a land of magic. Just 10 metres below me I witnessed bright blue, yellow, pink, red, purple pieces of coral. Zillions of little rich-colored fish were swimming around it.

Now imagine I am just swimming over just a coral reef… The Great Barrier Reef is even more coral!

When the sea got a bit too rough on me and I got tired of getting air, I swam back.

One of the British guys was snorkeling around in the shallow area. He looked quite disappointed. “It’s all grey and dusty!” he said. “Just go on there,” I said and I pointed to the reef, “you won’t believe it until you have seen it.”

I saw the other guy sitting on the beach. “What’s with him?” I asked. “He can’t really swim that well,” the guy said and swam off to the reef. Can’t swim that well? You can stand up right here!

I swam back to the beach and talked with the guy from Birmingham, England. He explained me that he wasn’t such a good swimmer and he had never snorkeled before. And he’d leave it with that.

I showed him how shallow it was and how easy it is to just float in the water. Nothing can happen. Finally I managed to get him in the water and where it was only knee deep he put on his goggles and looked around in the water. Of course there wasn’t much to see for him now. But I really wanted him to swim around a bit and at least sea something swimming around, like my tuna fish.

It was quite hard. He would bend over and look into the water, but actually being in the water was scary for him. I totally had to change my perspective to understand his fear for plain clear water. I showed him to lean on his hands on the sand, his head would still be above the water. “Then just walk on your hands, through the water, and look down.” But whenever something unexpected happened, like a tiny wave passed by, he got terrified by the water and jumped up on his feet.

Wow, how do you tell somebody you can trust 50cm deep water where nothing actually can happen? It was so normal to me… But he made progress and I taught him how to push himself up from the sand and float a bit before landing on the sand again - and all with his head totally in the water and trusting the air pipe. “If water comes in there, you frighten, but your first automatic response will be to blow away that water. And than everything is fine.”

With is other friend amazed, I took this guy into the sea as we stayed near the beach and the rocks. He could now swim freely and slowly moved through the water, surprised by whatever he saw in the water.

He came all the way from England to Great Keppel Island and I just would not let him sit on the beach to watch others enjoying themselves. Now he knew why. “Gosh!!!” he jumped up with joy. “Did you see all those fish!!!” he almost screamed.

At the end of this afternoon the sky had turned grey and it looked like we were going to have some heavy rainfall. Looking from the island to the mainland, I could already see the rainfall on Yeppoon. Heavy rain. We rushed back to the holiday village, but stayed dry, as the rain seemed to pass over.

I had a little nap and around dinnertime I joined Geoff to the Island Pizza restaurant, where my hostess in Rocky, Trish Smith, had arranged me a free pizza meal for me. At the pizza place I met up with the enthusiastic and talkative Gerry, a Kiwi (from New Zealand) and his wife Karin.

“Do you know that I saw you on television in March, just when you got to Australia and I said to Karin: this guy is coming to Keppel and we will feed him. And you know what? You are here now!” I was amazed and so was everybody else. Someway faith had leaded me here and a pizza was prepared for us.

The personnel of the restaurant had a quiet night tonight and joined Geoff and me on our outside table. I learned that Geoff was originally a sign maker before he stranded on this island and started co-managing the holiday village. Gerry had met his wife here and worked hard and saved a lot of money to start a restaurant on this island. And it seems to be very successful.

“We get most of the people from the famous Contiki Beach Resort eating at our place, because they say the food at the resort is just horrible,” Gerry laughed.

I was intrigued by his life story and how all the little things made him happy in finally achieving to have his own pizza place he dreamed of so long.

“I love your idea, not just because you are traveling many places and seeing the world on absolutely no-money, but more because it is YOUR idea. You thought of it yourself, kept it to yourself and decided to actually GO for that. Man, I admire that,” Gerry said. “How could I ever say no to somebody who is living a lifestyle like you?” – I was flabbergasted, and handed another beer.

I could go on here for hours, just like we did there. Those people there were as inspiring as much I was probably inspiring to them. It was great. This is how I celebrated my first year on the road – with locals, with real people.

Letmestayforaday.com had been going on since May 1, 2001 and I will just go on doing it as long as I want it. Cheers!

It was around 11pm when I returned back to the hostel, right in time to get to bed as the power generator would turn off everything and it would be suddenly really dark.

For tonight Geoff had moved me from the dorm room into one of the luxury tents. “Some people come here and I show them the tent and they all of a sudden don’t really feel like sleeping in a ‘tent’. But when I show them the inside furnished part, they get amazed.” Just like me, when I walked in my tent, where an ordinary big bed with a big mattress and sheets were located, and a little light lit up the place. Only the wall made me realize I was sleeping in a tent.

“Just to let you feel how it is to sleep in a tent,” Geoff had told me.

I made myself comfortable and crawled under the sheets. Just after 11pm the generators were turn off and I noticed how it started to rain softly, on the tent.

The later it got the harder the rain fell down. Heavy winds were coming up too. It was around 2am when I woke up because I noticed I was in the middle of the rain storm. It was just pouring down like in a shower. Hard, I mean. I decided to leave it with that and walked off to dreamland. Tomorrow it will be all gone, I thought and fell asleep.

Not noticing anything in my tent… yet.

Good night Great Keppel Island!

Ramon.