Sunday, June 28, 2009

Land of the knock-offs & Zachary gets a new cast

Friday we picked up a rental car to run various errands. Planned to drive up to Arlie Beach because we have heard it mentioned so often, but after learning that it was more than 2 hours in each direction we decided to skip it. The locals pronounce it "early" beach. Supposedly there really isn't a beach there but some fun shops and restaurants. Tried to interest Zachary in driving to the mountains west of here but he wasn't up for any long car drives. He was more interested in a restaurant lunch and going back to our boat. But first we went to Western Union and wired the fee to Indonautical at Bali Marina for our CAIT for Indonesia.

The CAIT is the mandatory cruising permit for Indonesian waters and you must have it before arrival in Indonesia. The agent said it is currently taking about 12 weeks to obtain a CAIT from the Indonesian government. We hope to arrive in Bali in late September so we needed to get this process started. We had already submitted all the required forms and scanned documentation via email. All that was left to do was wire the money. That is a pain and costs more than it should. The agent does not accept credit cards or direct bank wire transfers; he only accepts Western Union. We had tried to use Western Union online but that would not work for sending money to Indonesia. Indonesia has imposed an import fee on all boats entering Indonesian waters; this import fee is 25% of the value of your boat. No way we would pay that!!!! But an agent can post a bond for your boat in lieu of paying the import fee. The fee for this bond is $600. No way we were paying that much either!!!

But there is a loophole for those of us who do not wish to spend months cruising Indonesia. The government will allow a boat to stay in Indonesia for up to 20 days without posting the bond or paying the import fee. So we will be staying in Indonesia 20 days or less. Previously they allowed only 14 days but just increased the time limit to 20 days. Our schedule would not allow us to stay longer than that anyway. All it will cost us is the CAIT, which turned out to be roughly $240 USD with all the Western Union fees and conversion fees. Happy to pay that to have an agent obtain the CAIT rather than attempting to deal directly with the Indonesian government by long distance. We will clear in at Benoa, Bali; stay less than 20 days; and clear out at same place. Then sail to Singapore, possibly stopping overnight a few times in secluded areas if we feel it is safe to do so. We are very much looking forward to Bali. Time for a totally new culture. Done with the South Pacific things and looking forward to SE Asian cultures.

We went out for pizza the other day and Zachary thought it was the worst pizza he had ever tasted. We both agreed that we won't be trying any more pizza in Australia. We went to a Mexican restaurant for lunch one day and that was strange too. Not bad; just strange. Wish his parents could have seen Zachary's face when we explained that they don't give you refills on drinks here and that the tiny 250-ml Diet Coke was all he was going to be served. He also couldn't believe that we had to pay for the tortilla chips and the salsa. We are accustomed to those things being free in unlimited quantities at all Mexican restaurants back home.

He watched a manta ray off the dock ramp one morning; first time he had seen a large ray. This morning a replica of a 2-masted square rigger arrived in the marina. It is a training ship.

The men were all standing on the yardarms and singing loudly as they arrived through the breakwater. Took them a very long time to climb down the ratlines because they did it one at a time and clipped on every third step. If we can ever break Zachary away from his DS games we will walk over there and check it out.

Since our last posting to this website we have made a few trips to the shopping mall. This provided Zachary with his first bus ride and first taxi ride. He now knows there are very plush new buses and also old clunker buses as we have had the opportunity to ride both. The taxi ride was only because the return bus was not identified as per the printed bus schedule so we missed it on our first foray to the mall. According to the sign posts and the printed schedule we should have caught the #12 Marina bus. Turns out it is really called the #60 Slade Point bus. The locals all know that Slade Point is near the marina, but we visitors had no way of knowing that. I think they need to change their signs and print new schedules. Anyway, we took a taxi back home on the first trip to the mall. Now we know which bus takes us back home.

Australia is the land of knock-offs as far as retail establishments are concerned. There are Targets with the same logo used in the USA. There are K-Marts with the same logo used in the USA. Neither remotely resembles their American counterparts. A local person told us that both Target and K-Mart are owned by Coles (a large supermarket chain) here in Australia. There is also a large store called Big W. Big W looks exactly like a Walmart; even the fonts and colors on the "Everyday Low Price" signs throughout the store look exactly like Walmart in the USA. But supposedly this is not a Walmart store. I'm not convinced about that because I would think Walmart would have put a stop to infringement on their logo. So I think it really is owned by Walmart but operating under a different name here for whatever reason.

Also, at the Shell gas (a/k/a petrol locally) stations each have a large sign with the Burger King logo. In New Zealand the Shell stations had these same Burger Kings. We never went inside one to see if it really had regular Burger King foods. Except here in Australia the Burger King logo has the words "Hungry Jack" in the middle of the logo and does not mention Burger King. So I guess the local companies are infringing on 2 corporations: both Burger King and Jack-in-the-Box. There are other American trademarks we have seen knocked-off here in Australia but those 4 or 5 are the most prevalent.

Zachary returned to the hospital yesterday for a follow-up x-ray and new cast. The x-ray showed that one of the bones was healing perfectly but that the other bone had shifted and was no longer perfectly aligned. The ER doctor thought that Zachary should have surgery yesterday to install a surgical steel plate and pins to hold the bones correctly in place. But the orthopedic surgeon said that the current off-set of the bones was only 15 degrees and that was acceptable for a child this age. He said that the bones would eventually remodel as Zachary grows. But the 15 degrees is borderline acceptability. The orthopedic surgeon said we need to return in one week to do another x-ray. If the bones are still off-set 15 degrees then we can leave and begin our passages north to Cairns. But if the bones shift further and the off-set increases to 20 degrees then Zachary will have to have surgery next weekend.

So we are stuck in Mackay Marina for another week. Zachary goes back to the hospital at 8 a.m. Sunday July 5 for another x-ray. If it shows everything okay then we will leave Mackay that day. If the x-ray shows further misalignment then Zachary will have surgery either Sunday or Monday. The doctors said Zachary could leave the area 2 days after surgery.

Zachary chose red and black for his new cast. These are the colors for the Houston Astros baseball team, of which he is a fan. And also for the Houston Texans football team. The Texans colors are supposedly red and steel blue, but it looks like black. Note he is wearing his Astros cap in this photo. Matches his new cast nicely. He is playing one of the neverending DS games in this photo.

For all those in the USA who don't want universal health care, I must point out that thus far the entire medical bill for everything has been on $185.50 AUD or roughly $148 USD. That includes ER; numerous x-rays the night of the accident; setting the arm by 3 doctors, 2 nurses and 1 x-ray technician; all medications administered in the ER plus take-home pain meds; follow-up x-ray and doctor visit the second day; follow-up x-ray and doctor visit yesterday; removal of the plaster cast and building of the fiberglass cast; 2 slings; and the x-ray and follow-up doctor visits scheduled for next Sunday, including consultations with the orthopedic surgeon. If we were Australian citizens then all this care would have been free. In New Zealand all this care would also have been free because any tourist who suffers any form of accident while traveling in New Zealand automatically receives free medical care. I understand Italy does the same. The USA absolutely must do something about its antiquated health care system. America no longer has the best medical care in the world. We have the most expensive health care by far in the entire world, and we are dropping annually in the ratings of quality of care.

If there is a hint of any wind tomorrow morning we are leaving the marina to sail for the day. Maybe go out to Scawfell Island about 25 miles away for a day or two; just to get out of the marina. We have paid for the marina slip through next Sunday but that doesn't mean we have to stay here the entire time. Definitely time to visit an island.

Here in the land of Oz there are some foods new to us. Such as "Bugs." There look like some kind of lobster that is all tail and has a totally flat head and no claws. Strange looking creatures and at $42 per kilo I don't think we will be trying any. We have been searching for sliced dill pickles for sandwiches. Ask a local and they will likely respond: "What are pickles? Do you mean pickled onions?"

So we were happy to finally find some pickles in one supermarket. Here is a photo. As you can see, these are canned pickles. Who would have thought you would ever find canned pickles!

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