Sunday 13th December 2010
We will never know what possessed the Australian lunatic to hurl a semi-decomposed rooster at the face of a girl he had only met 24 hours prior but as he washed the black bile off my towel which had fortuitously caught most of the corpse explosion upon impact, it was evident that he was pretty mortified. Perhaps in Melbourne it is commonplace for adonis men to run around bashing people with decaying poultry but one thing is for sure, on our visit to Australia I will give the city a wide berth just in case.
By 3pm a blanket of rain was setting in without any sign of reprieve. After a brief cold snorkel in the overcast yet crystal clear waters teaming with reef sharks, turtles and squid, we huddled under the veranda of a hut scarred by a previous cyclone and attempted to get dry. The rain was becoming perpendicular and gusts of wind were rattling the sides of the hut. Meli, our guide was beginning to worry and warned us that there was a high possibility that we may be unable to make the return journey to Qamea. I can’t say I was too thrilled about spending the night cold and damp on the floor of a hut surrounded by blood thirsty mosquitoes, snuggling up to the rooster hurler and ol’ Mr Steptoe, whilst a storm raged outside. None-the-less we all became filled with survival adrenaline and began to busy ourselves making the environment as habitable as possible. We strung a drying line over the small stove which we had lit using the gas canister we had brought in the boat, swept and tidied the hut, worked out how much food we had left over from lunch and foraged for coconuts and any live chickens for food emergencies.
4pm came and the clouds seemed to have deepened their resolve. Aside from the prospect of a long, cold night ahead, Chris and I had the added problem that we would miss the flight we were due to catch at 8am in the morning from Taveuni Island to Suva. Blessed with great mobile phone reception due to the monstrous radio mast on the red bull island, Meli suggested Chris rearrange the flight to the next day, the day before our flight to Australia. If it looked like we would be here for more than the one night and we might miss our Oz connection altogether, then a large emergency boat would be sent…from somewhere, to rescue us. It was pretty exciting really. I fantasised about us being shipwrecked on the red bull island and being pampered in utmost luxury because we were ‘poor half-drowned darlings’.
5pm came and Meli told us that if the visibility had not improved by 6pm then it would be too dark to leave and we were here for the long haul. He also kindly added in a few harrowing true stories of villagers attempting to travel on stormy seas yet only succeeding in reaching Davy Jones’ locker. Not surprisingly we agreed to be safe and the excitement of earlier began to wane. It was then that we turned to discussing cannibalism in order to cheer ourselves up. We all decided that Steptoe would go first for sure. Although he would be pretty boney, we at least wouldn’t have to hear him take pot shots at people or moan. The Fijians were pretty safe as they were needed to get the remaining tourist/s home when the weather cleared. So it was then a duel between Chris and Captain chicken-chucker. I was obviously rooting for Chris to win and, well, no one was exactly rooting for the opposition. And thus we wiled away the next 50 minutes.
5:50pm a tiny patch of blue sky peeped through the clouds and the fuzzy shadowy outline of the nearest island emerged out of the grey. Like people possessed we abandoned the hut and fled to the boat. By 6pm we were smashing our way over the waves, through the sheet rain homeward bound. Two hours later, as the sun was stretching his blanket of darkness over himself, a small boat load of five cold, sodden, relieved tourists arrived at Qamea to be greeted with gin and tonic (thanks to a Kiwi who had cleverly stayed behind) and warm homely food.
It had been a peculiar adventure indeed but in the end we got an extra day in Qamea with our new family of Fijians, and who can complain about that!