Sunday 13th December 2010
The muscles in my limbs gave a violent rippling shudder and the sun-kissed hairs on my arms stood to attention producing the ‘baby orangutan’ look. The wind pushed the thick sheet of rain under the awning and water droplets trickled down my leg. I looked out towards the overpoweringly dark clouds and the rain pounding the white coral sand and was still amazed at the beauty of this tiny desert island. As the possibility of our departure being postponed until tomorrow, our boat driver/guide began to suggest rationing protocol for the dwindling cigarette supplies. I reflected on the peculiar events of the day as I tried to warm up before darkness came…
The morning sun had blazed promisingly and we were eager to set out on the 30 mile boat ride to a remote sand island in the middle of no where. After all, Mel Gibson had said it was spectacular and any island fit for a racist, misogynistic millionaire is good enough for me! Chris, Myself, a lanky cranky aged Kiwi, a bubbly English girl, a nauseatingly self-assured Aussie and three Fijians clambered into a small fibreglass boat. Dressed only in swimming apparel we excitedly departed for our day of sunshine, breathtaking views, white sand and snorkelling. Our boat sped and bobbed along the coast line of Qamea island revealing Fijian villages sprouting out of the jungle and sprawling across minute beaches. We slowed as we reached Laucala island and like drooling paupers we stared in awe at one of only a few 7* resorts in the world. This one belongs to Red Bull tycoon Dietrich Mateschitz. Luxurious traditional Fijian style bures perched on outcroppings covered in privacy reserving foliage, yachts and watersport regalia littered the shores of the white beaches and a private jet launched itself off the hidden private runway. Well, enough of that, we had an island paradise to get to that wouldn’t cost the rumoured $35,000 a night that Dietrich demands.
Numb bummed, salted and windswept, we landed on the deserted pure white beach island of Nanuku. Miles away from anywhere it felt as though we were on the last bastion of terra-firma before the deep endless ocean oozed out like a glassy soup to the end of the earth. Gentle turquoise turned to violent blue as the sea reached the horizon and heavy renaissance clouds thundering above poured a thick grey fog of rain on distant waters. Although we were a little sad that the day which had promised such glorious sunshine was now threatened with rain and wind, the juxtaposition of radiant white beach and dark skies was stunning to behold. The flat sand island was no bigger than a football pitch and white beaches gave way to a small jungle interior. As we explored the coastline, huge turtle tracks in the sand revealed the great circle of life events of the previous night. Hermit crabs clumsily wobbled out of the path of our tread, birds squawked in the trees and palm leaves rustled with increasing veracity as the storm edged ever closer. The aged kiwi and laddy Aussie had, in the spirit of two men far too in touch with their inner infant, gone in search of the source of a rather pungent odour of death. Hoping to discover a dead mother turtle who had become entangled on tree roots as she was digging her nest, they skipped, squealing and giggling into the forest. Then it happened. The boys/men emerged with hoots of victory. I looked up from the beach and this is the freeze frame that I saw before my eyes: Dark prophetic clouds above; a spindly skin and bones pensioner, his face ablaze with an evil cackle like a spiky villain from a terrifying children’s story; a tall, toned Australian whose expression was halfway between a joy-filled smile and horror, like that of a child who has done something really bad but realises it only too late; a large rooster mid air, it’s wings spread out as though it were in some death defying final flight, it’s neck and head limp and flopping, it’s feathers damp and scraggly revealing white flesh between them and patches of dark goo; small wet feathers radiating away from the corpse along with a spray of black liquid ooze.
Then it hit me on the head.