Monday, October 24 (Day 54)
Coral View Resort, Tavewa Island
The crowd are going nuts. The melodic tunes fill the air with a sense of euphoria. Each time I drop a tune the atmosphere lifts another notch. This feels unbelievable.
I wake up to see the skinny girl from Bournemouth trying her best to negotiate her way to the floor from her bunk bed above me without waking me. That dream felt so damn real. It’s been like that every night since I came to Fiji. Maybe it’s the Kava. Maybe it’s the climate. God knows, but I’m enjoying the intensity of these nightly visions.
I spend the morning with the lad from London. He is genuinely cool but not up his own arse unlike most girls of his age (26) from London. (No I haven’t become a woman hater. I’m just telling it how I see it.) In fact, we hit it off so well that a Swiss girl, overhearing one of our colourful conversations, enquires as to whether we have been travelling together for a lot of months.
“No, we met yesterday. We are just mavericks.” He replies.
I like that. Mavericks. Definitely my word of the day. Yes, we are both mavericks in some senses. And, strangely enough, there are two more mavericks staying on this island, who we are also knocking about with. Sarah, the lady from Pompey, definitely falls into that category as does Ingrid from Frankfurt, a force of nature, around the same age as Sarah, I guess, who seems to inhabit her own autonomous republic of herself. She still goes to raves, occasionally drops tablets in her mouth that she shouldn’t at parties, and hangs around a lot in Thailand, discovering the kinds of parties the country was once legendary for before Tom, Dick and Hans ruined Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Samui and made them mainstream events. Four mavericks, all with very different tales, coming together on one island in the Pacific. Maverick Island.
The remainder of the day follows a now familiar pattern of sunbathing and eating, which is only interrupted by such troubling questions as Where to next? Rum and coke or beer? Trance or dub step? How many hours till dinner? Black or red t-shirt tonight? Can I be bothered to have a shower? Why do young English girls have such flabby arses? How many slices of pineapple for dessert?
To be fair though, I’ve overdone the sun and underdone the water. In the evening I’m suffering from dehydration and have to pull out one of those emergency rehydration sachets that the army use, to get myself back together.
With Maverick departed for Nanuya Lailai, I spend the evening with Sarah, 43, who was married for 15 years and is now largeing it around the world. We are both damaged goods and consequently spend the whole night picking through each other’s failed relationships. Why did it go wrong? Where did it go wrong? How did we meet that person? What were the best things about them? How long did it take to get over them? In the interim, Sarah Maverick has been with men much younger and much older than her and now she’s concluded in the future it will ideally have to be plus or minus five years. She still wants a kid. She’s definitely leaving it a bit late in the day. She tells me a few home truths about dating women who are approaching thirty and the crazy decisions they end up making in their late twenties. Half a bottle of Jack Daniels can ruin your life if it is in the hands of the wrong woman.
Monday, September 26 (Day 25)
“We got in at four. It all went a bit random. The only place we could find to drink was a strip club where drinks were cheaper than most of the pubs. We met a load of other people in the street looking for somewhere to drink and the manager let us all go in for free. The same girl was dancing for four hours.”
And there was me saying Jim and Sarah were on a hiding to nothing.
I give myself the lie in I didn’t have in Punakaiki and set off to explore Nelson. This is a decent town with lots of character by NZ standards. Don’t get me wrong, most towns and villages I have so far encountered here would make lovely places to live, it is just that most of them feel very ‘new world’ and lack charm and attractive architecture. As well as having both of these in some measure, Nelson is also a community influenced by artists. You occasionally find quirky little things here like colourful blankets wrapped around park benches, and psychedelically painted lamp posts. I take the long stroll up ‘to the centre of New Zealand’, which has commanding, uninterrupted views of the coast, town and mountains. Following on from my poor attempt at a jog in Wanaka, I find myself struggling a bit up the steep inclines. Not looking good for the football season when I get back to Europe.
Jim and Sarah’s parting gift to me was to tell me about a one-off Banksy exhibition being held in Nelson. It is a bit of a stroll out of town but what a piece of luck finding out about this! Many reading this will be well aware of the work of Banksy but, for those of you who haven’t heard of him, he is one of the world’s premier street artists, giving important social issues a real message and consciousness through his art.
The exhibition, entitled ‘Oi You!’, is donation-only and also includes the work of beautiful losers, David Choe, Faile, Antony Micallef, Adam Neate and Paul Insect, amongst others. I spend a good enjoyable hour at the exhibition. I will let the images do the talking:
Back at Accents on the Park, the Argies, Italians and Americans are arriving in town ahead of tomorrow evening’s match between Italy and the USA. Meanwhile, downstairs in our communal kitchen, another English blonde, working in Queenstown, is boasting to all and sundry about her having had it away with an England player last weekend. Like I mentioned before, if I were a tabloid journalist, I would have made myself very rich during my time here. It is OK though, I detest the tabloids and I would never spill the beans and potentially destroy a player’s career and/or marriage for the sake of a few coloured pieces of paper. I will talk in generalities though and, I am told by the other two Queenstown bar workers present, that fellow England players were downing treble Jack Daniels after their third match, a couple of days ago. One of the internationals in question also tried to take a girl back to Nomads, as I mentioned previously.
Not so much risk versus reward as just not caring as much as they probably should.
“You probably shouldn’t be telling these things to a journalist,” I tell the three of them.
The girl lets out an effected squeal, “Oh my God, oh my God, are you reeeeally a jour-na-list?”
Then, after a short pause, her eyes light up:
“Which newspaper do you write for?” asked in a strangely flirty, rather ugly way.
“None. Don’t worry.”
The Yeovil floozy looks bloody disappointed.
I watch 30 minutes of Wales v Namibia over a 6 dollar handle of beer (little more than a half pint) but it is one of those nights when I feel uncomfortable and downright lonely, sat in a bar, being Billy-no-mates, and beat a hasty retreat back to Accents on the Park, where I am very content instead to spend my beer money on a phone call to my lovely nan in England. Predictably, she tries to get me off the phone inside a minute, because she is worried about the cost for me. No matter that she gave me a hundred quid towards my trip a couple of days before I set off. I am sad that I won’t see her for another eight weeks.
Wales 81 Namibia 7