38 degrees. 10pm. Humidity 91%. As I walk up the stairs from the beach to the bar in my sweat-drenched sarong, something lands on my right foot. I yelp, loudly and embarrassingly, attracting a chorus of laughter. The resort staff know what’s happened and find it very amusing; a large, ugly frog has hopped onto my foot. I unstylishly kick it off, lurching it into the air. From this point I become the butt of jokes, mostly about frog princes.
Okay, so my last post may not have been entirely honest about how perfect my stay in Fiji has been …
When opting for a mountain view room (rather than a beachfront one), I hadn’t anticipated having to climb halfway up the mountain to go to bed, urged on by the locals enthusiastically yelling, “Bula!! Good exercise, hey”?! My responding smile and breathless nod betray the “sod off” that my heaving lungs won’t permit me to reply.
In the evening, with limited vision and bare feet, it’s unsettlingly easy to stand on one of the many frogs – a repulsive possibility. However the frogs are outnumbered by insects and large slimy centipedes (picture worms with legs), and one of the four lizards who cohabit with me got a fright and dropped its tail when I shut the door. I promptly scooped it up with a tissue and threw it over the balcony (the tail, not the lizard).
But the monstrosity of the tropical creatures pales in comparison to me. For the first time since I was about twelve, I’ve been growing my body hair to its natural length – legs, eyebrows, underarms … all of it. To enhance this Amazonian look, I’ve gone without shoes, makeup or washing my (head) hair since setting foot in Fiji; I go native with alarming ease. As a result of receiving 23 mosquito bites in 48 hours, my perfume is Aerogard, Tropical Strength. The Islanders will mythologise me as a hideous beast – with luminous white skin, red circle markings and matted hair; its smell repelling all living things.
I’m unquestionably perceived as a Lone-Wolf-Weirdo. Breakfast is served from 7am – 10am and I spend the entire three hours there, with pineapple, coffee, and my laptop; it’s the only place to receive internet coverage and the only time to be blissfully alone. People are constantly trying to chat at to me, having identified me as a solo traveller. I’m external stimuli for holidaying couples (having exhausted their own conversations), an additional friend for groups, and company for other singletons.
The staff have also adopted me. As I approached the bar last night, the barman briskly walked towards me (running would be an exaggeration, and I’m not one to exaggerate ….) and high-fived me. I had to clumsily transfer my drink from my right to my left hand to enable it. He repeated this tonight, but added (no word of a lie), “Smack me baby”! I am not the sort of person who high-fives and I have no idea of the correct response to, “Smack me baby”!
All that aside, I have had a great time. In my room I’m naked with reckless abandon (hell, at dusk I stand exposed on my balcony with a glass of wine and watch the rain … fear not, no one can see me). My ipod’s hooked to a sound dock which means it’s a constant dance party in room 103. The pool bar’s my home (delaying the evening mountain hike for as long as possible). For fourteen hours a day I swim, read, sleep, drink and eat. Live music starts in the evening and I don my rumba and salsa hat (those dance classes finally useful). I’m hopefully at least slightly more graceful than when I’m kicking frogs off my feet.