I can see why they call these coaches ‘luxury’, I mean – the seats recline a whole TWO inches! Amazing!! And the vibration of the window glass no doubt cures no end of ailments. They’re so lush they even give the driver a special pair of cast iron boots on which to gently thump on the brakes whenever he feels like (usually when you’re in the loo). All I can say is that it cost me $184 and it was worth every penny. If pennies were made of rat droppings.
When it’s cheaper to drive somewhere on your own in a Hummer than to take ‘public’ transport, the word ‘public’ is nothing more than a shitty lie.
The coach of all sorrow arrived in Townsville at around 1pm. I hurried to the internet café – but still no word from the owners of the Mell Seringat. I began to panic. I emailed them again, but I already knew in my heart it was too late. But the working day hadn’t started yet in Germany… there was still hope!
At 5pm I met up with Robbie and Sera, flatmates of my CouchSurf host Eagle. Robbie is from Queenland, Sera’s from Texas and Eagle is from New Zealand. They all work at the Billabong Animal Sanctuary. After a short ride back to their house (‘The Nest’) I discovered that they like to take their work home with them – not only did they own a couple of pythons, they also owned an inland taipan – arguably the most deadly snake in the world. Nice! One of the pythons had recently given birth (to eggs) and the baby snakelets we being kept in what looked like tupperwear containers, but for snakes. I also met their pet parrot, although I was not keen on even seeing the giant spider that lurked menacingly trapped in a box on the other side of the room.
I was tired after my long journey. The ship was originally scheduled to leave next Saturday, which would have given me a bit of breathing space to sort something out, but the schedule had been moved forward to 2300 tomorrow. After a few abortive attempts, I finally got through to the port agent who had some rather bad news for me. The ship’s estimated time of departure had been moved forwards, again, to between 0900 and 1100 tomorrow. The only way I could possibly get on board is if I had the permission of the ship owners (I already had the permission of the charterers) and I had that permission yesterday. In a blind panic I emailed just about everybody who worked for the company in Germany, but when the message finally came down the line, it was a big NEIN!
They hadn’t heard anything about what I was doing until just now (our earlier emails must not have gone through) and it was far too late to sort anything out now, less than 12 hours before the ship was due to depart.
Upset and furious at myself for travelling 1,300km up here for no good reason, I looked for a plan B. There was another ship leaving on Sunday from Brisbane. It was also owned by a German company. I emailed them and awaited their reply. By this time, Eagle and Robbie had packed up for the night (they had to be up early tomorrow) and so I was left chatting to Sera. Sera’s a right-wing gun-owning, Republican voting Christian from Texas. I’m a left-wing, gun hating, Labour voting atheist from Liverpool. Needless to say, we got on like a house on fire. I love a good ding-dong.