During my 2010 Christmas visit to Australia, my hometown was flooded and a locust plague was immediately followed by a snake plague. At the same time, England was hit by the worst snowfall in over forty years – Heathrow was grounded for days. My arrival this year was marked by a mini cyclone, fires that destroyed thirty homes, a mouse plague and a fatal white shark attack. Two weeks ago, on the day I left New Zealand, a state of emergency was declared because of the worst floods in fifty years. Now I’m in Fiji during monsoon season, a country where cyclones are the norm. Aside from the daily monsoon all is well … but how long is Fiji safe?
Optimism and enthusiasm are traits I value; life shouldn’t be wasted indulging in melancholy. Despite this positive view, I’m a magnet for unusual incidents that often turn out to be less than pleasant. Others have noticed the effects on the environment around me (other than those I directly create) and I’ve earned a reputation as a cheerful, apocalyptic catalyst of doom. Each time I merrily trot along for my next endeavour, people suffer. Thankfully, I always emerge from the rubble untouched.
Fiji so far has been great: the food delicious, the cocktails superb and the surroundings idyllic … but others at the resort aren’t enjoying themselves quite as much. A man and a couple were sitting at a table near me at breakfast and I overheard their conversation.
Female in the couple (hesitant and with a look of concern): Heard from Belinda?
Single male (unshaven and weary looking): No, but her sister called and she’s not changing her mind. There’s nothing I can do about it so I’m just going to get on with my holiday … How’s your room?
Male in the couple: (happy for the change of subject, I suspect): Bloody hot! The air con doesn’t work, or the tv, or the toilet… this really has been the shittiest holiday we’ve been on. Everything that could possibly go wrong has. (This little ray of sunshine couldn’t be helping his heartbroken friend’s morale).
After some hopefully discreet eavesdropping (admittedly, the rest I didn’t accidentally hear …), I discovered that “Belinda” left “Paul” at the resort three days after arriving and called off their engagement. “Amy” and “James” arrived without accommodation and had to stay in a single room together. They all looked disgruntled.
My conscience is clear: the blame for their problems isn’t mine. Cyclones, bushfires, floods and plagues I’m happy to take responsibility for – standard natural disasters. But I’m not taking credit for emotional misfortunes and human errors. The ending of relationships on holiday is as common as holiday romances. And disorganisation is self-inflicted (it turned out James hadn’t actually booked a room for the first night of their holiday – he’s probably lucky Amy didn’t do a Belinda on him).
My Christmas, spent with newly acquired friends, was unexpectedly enjoyable. And, after days of flooding me with uninvited (though in fairness, very entertaining) poolside conversation, a man from Sydney has invited me to a New Year’s gathering his group are having tomorrow night … is it possible I’ll be seeing in 2012 with the earth moving in a way that doesn’t involve a natural disaster? Or will Mr Sydney soon find himself in a hailstorm, covered in boils and swatting away raining frogs?