Mantaray Island – Port Denarau – Nadi Bay
Something has happened which I would call ‘a game changer’. It happened the other morning on the paradise island of Daweqa. I went back to my bure for a lie down and lay there thinking how bloody lucky I was to be there. The waves were crashing against the shoreline five metres away, the palm trees were rattling against my bure but as the happiness began to surge suddenly the depression demons came in through the windows on my blind side and attacked me. They dragged up all the circumstances of my split up from my long-term girlfriend and left me lying there feeling thoroughly down. Wallowing in self-pity, I flicked away a fly from my right arm; an action that caused me to discover a lump under my arm pit. I gave it a proper investigation and quickly concluded that this thing definitely shouldn’t be there. The lump was right in the same spot as where I have two of those strange bits of skin that grow from your body (Sorry, no idea what you call them).
####! ####! You stupid bastard.
I literally began to slap myself around the face in anger. Here you are in paradise and you are just lying on your bed feeling sorry for yourself, pride in tatters, allowing the depression demons to screw you up. And now what’s happened! You might have a cancerous lump! You had your whole life ahead of you. Think of all that time you could have spent with loved ones, the places you would have seen, the nights of passion that you would eventually have experienced again. And now, you might never experience any of it. Was she really worth all that worry and grief? Perhaps it is months of those negative emotions that have caused this lump.
Well, I will cut the rest of the story - about how it was constantly on my mind for the next couple of days - short. I showed a Fijian the lump as I’ve never had one right in the middle of my arm pit, beneath those glands. It just seemed a bit unusual. It’s taken three days to find out but the ‘lump’ has, to my huge relief, turned out to be a spider’s bite. The poor bastard must have got properly snug in my arm pit before I crushed it to death. Its parting gift to the world was to bite me and kindly present me with this game changing mind game. I’m not suggesting for one moment that the depression demons won’t be back, because I know they certainly will. But, this particular fear has given me a well-timed kick up the arse as I sit on my pity pot.
I just can’t afford to stay on these islands any longer. And to be honest I don’t need the routine of breakfast at 8, lunch at 12, dinner at 7. I was going to stay at Beachcomber tonight, the famous party island. A load of the English birds from Manta Ray are headed there and I’ve heard from a few of the older backpackers that Beachcomber is full of 18-20 year olds getting hideously drunk every night. I’m going to swerve it and get back to the mainland.
The Flyer motors its way to the mainland, dropping off and picking up at various degrees of paradise. Friends board, friends depart.
You’ve got to laugh. Chug, chug, chug. We have broken down in the middle of the ocean. I can’t help thinking back to Argentina when I got stranded on an overnight bus in a snowstorm in Patagonia. Eight hours with no heating, some of us wet and worried about the possibility of hypothermia. Now, a couple of months on I am stranded in the middle of the Pacific accompanied by two Swedish girls. We should be back at 4 but as the sun begins to set we are marooned at sea. As I listen to Desenchantee on Hanna’s ipod I just want them to stick on the tunes and turn this into a rave.
We abandon ship and are picked up by a large catamaran from the mainland. Before we know it though we are docking at Mana Island. FFS, this is a different archipelago. I have a word with the chief purser, who tells me we won’t be back at land before 10. I tell him it is the Swedish girls’ last night and really they should at least provide them with a drink. Then I make up some pork pie about the girls crying to force the tight bastards’ hand.
One phone call later, the purser has invited us into the Captain’s Lounge for the remainder of the journey where we are rewarded with air con, a BBC documentary about South Pacific clams, two bottles of decent white wine and enough snacks to make up for the dinner we’re not going to have by the time we get back.
You don’t ask, you don’t get.