A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about rain

Cairns: under the sea

View Australian adventure! on Rebecca Heller's travel map.

I found Cairns to be a slightly odd place. Not not nice, just a bit odd. It seemed like no one was from there, they just moved to work there, but I suppose I just might not have met the born and bred locals.

My first night there was St Paddy's day so I found myself in the infamous Gilligans for a celebratory beverage. Gilligans is a big hostel with two large bars and a larger reputation for parties. People were really dressed up in there, it was the first time in ages that I was conscious of my backpacking attire, or rather, just my lack of high heels, body con dresses and false eye lashes. It didn't detract from a fun time though, I really enjoyed the outside bar with live music.

The following day I set off nice and early for my Uncle Brian's rainforest trip. As would suit our location, it absolutely poured at intervals during the day and we did pass through the wettest town in Australia (why would you choose to live there?!). Our tour guide 'cousin Brad' loved to chat incessantly and loudly, and allowed no sleeping on the bus at all. Brad was weirdly flirty with everyone for 7.30am, and the eyebrow wiggle was frankly too much.

Despite this, I actually enjoyed the trip a lot. We went swimming in various lakes and under the Mila Mila waterfall (home to Peter Andre's Mysterious Girl video - yes there was some hair flicking). And for all the weirdness, Brad had an excellent playlist that excused the eyebrow wiggle, just about.

The next day was my most exciting in Cairns as I went for my first trip on the Great Barrier Reef, and contrary to the forecast we had a beautiful day! On the boat they made us fill in medical forms and took us through the safety briefing for first time scuba divers. I felt fine about it so I got stinger-suited and flippered up for my first snorkel.

Now I've seen Finding Nemo, I went to the Natural History Museum Coral exhibition and I've watched the telly, but seeing the Reef for the first time is pretty cool. They weren't wrong about the different kinds and colours of coral, and they were fairly spot on about all the fish.

Oh and I found Nemo. Several times actually, I'm not really sure what all the fuss was about.

I wasn't nervous about my dive until I was in the water itself. I remembered all the tests I had to do under the water and it was after that that my unconscious took over and I struggled to breathe properly. It's odd really since the big instruction is to breathe as normal. It was as though my brain screamed 'WHAT ARE YOU DOING FULLY SUBMERGED IN THE OCEAN?! COME TO THE SURFACE AT ONCE!'

We came to the surface, I regulated my breathing and we went again. Weirdly, pinching my nose helped me to distract me so I wasn't overthinking the whole breathing thing. As you can imagine though, holding on to the instructor, pinching my nose, breathing and trying to take photos with my rented underwater camera was a bit of a performance but I managed it!

I'm really pleased I tried it, but I'm not in a massive hurry to dive again soon. I absolutely loved snorkelling though, and it was a relief to get back in the water to snorkel around, and find Nemo again.

Posted by Rebecca Heller 02:18 Archived in Australia Tagged waterfalls lakes snorkelling rain scuba-dive Comments (0)

The day it rained in Huanchaco

View London - before the off! on Rebecca Heller's travel map.

I know this post may seem like just another Brit discussing the weather, but I urge you to stick with it.

One day last week it rained all day and throughout the night. It wasn't hugely heavy, just persistent - you know the kind I'm sure - and it was annoying, but I didn't give it too much thought. I donned my rain jacket and went about my day. A few of us even ventured out to the cinema - a solid rainy day activity.

The next morning whilst I'm eating my breakfast, the young couple who run the sushi restaurant here came downstairs looking all concerned.

D & M: Are you ok? How did you sleep?

Me: Really well thanks, and you?

D & M: We were so scared of the rain all night. It just didn't stop. The dog was scared too. And there's water everywhere.

I didn't really know how to respond, I had relatively recently woken up and this exchange was going on in Spanish. I wanted to mention that the water was because there's no roof in the middle of the house. An open patio is the style here, it's lovely, just not at all rainproof.

Up, dressed and ready for work, I was on my way out when I heard:

Are you ok?

I turn around and its G & J, my hosts, parents of D. They look extremely concerned. Now I feel concerned - do I look ill? Did I have a nose bleed and not notice?

G & J: But how did you sleep?

Me: Like a baby, I was really tired.

G & J: But with the rain...?

Me: Where I'm from it rains all night from October until March and many of the other months too, so if anything, I slept better!

G & J: Wow, I don't understand. For us, it's scary, it felt like the sky was falling down!

And that my friends was the reaction to rain in Huanchaco.

Posted by Rebecca Heller 08:03 Archived in Peru Tagged rain huanchaco Comments (0)

Preparing for El Niño

A rain simulation on a sunny day


In my mind, when there's an impending natural disaster, that you know about in advance, preparing in any way you can seems reasonable. With this, and the fact that I said I would cover El Niño more thoroughly, in mind, it seems right to write about preparation for El Niño.

Despite all that is known about El Niño, the preparation in Huanchaco has been distinctly minimal (and although I don't know, I suspect it's been minimal in much of Peru).

Just two weeks ago they started clearing and strengthening the dry river, which was a product from the last big El Niño in 1997-8. Many houses remain without a full roof, as per the design rather than lack of funds. There even seem to be new construction projects that are hugely unlikely to be completed by the supposed start of serious rainfall in mid January.

In the shanty towns around Huanchaco, almost nothing has been done physically, although schools have finished a month early and children have been taught about the phenomenon in schools. This leads me to probably the single best bit of preparation I have witnessed.

Imagine the scene, we are teaching a second grade class and the teacher is sat at her desk cutting out arm and head holes in black sacks. 20 minutes before the end of the class, with no warning, the teacher tells everyone to pack up and put their bags on. My natural assumption was that we were moving on to a whole class craft activity.


It turns out the whole school were packing away their books and donning homemade ponchos and hats from black bin bags, filing into the playground in groups. When they were all ready, the headteacher proceeded to spray them all with water from a hose. This was no craft activity, no this was a rain simulation.

So if nothing else, one primary school near Huanchaco are ready for the El Niño rain. They think it's going to be super fun, will cool them down on a scorching day and that black bin back ponchos will protect them. Perhaps the headteacher just needed to work something out of her system...

Posted by Rebecca Heller 08:04 Archived in Peru Tagged rain school nino Comments (0)

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