Today was a red-letter day for the Odyssey Expedition. I would step foot on the hallowed turf of the 188th country of The Odyssey Expedition: FIJI. Our port of call was Port Denarau: a rather artificial creation on the west coast of Viti Levu, the biggest island of the 300+ specks of land that make up modern Fiji. The tourist brochure bills it as something of a ‘resort’, the kind of thing that makes me breathe in sharply through my teeth: a golf course, a shopping centre and a Hard Rock Café. Eek.
But I have to say I had an absolutely awesome time. Most due to the fact that on the journey to land I got chatting to a fresh-faced young couple, Molly and Angus, from Adelaide who managed to restore my faith in all things Australia. We went to the local shop, I almost danced a jig when I saw long-necks (pint bottles) on sale for less than £1.50. We found a place on the grass by the marina and whiled away the lunchtime hours drinking grog and having a laugh. I probably talked too much, but then I often do. For the second longneck we headed over to the Hard Rock Café and laughed at the huge and improbable queue to get back on board the ship. Last launch at 4pm? Do me a favour. By 5pm we were still very much on land and the queue was still very much waiting. So we consoled ourselves with alcohol, good company and the fact that the live band playing outside the Hard Rock was nothing short of awesome. Well, they started in that tragic Australian Pubrock vein, but then blossomed into some of the funkiest mofo beats I’ve heard in an age (don’t forget I’ve been stuck in Pubrock Central (Oz) most of this year).
It may have been the booze. I’m contractually obliged to miss out a bit of the story at this point, so let’s skip to the bit where I’m back on board the mothership and drunkenly stuffing my clothes into a washing machine. After some tomfoolery at the restaurant (I’m so sorry if I’m the guy who joined you for dinner) I dried my clothes, thought I lost my secret money wallet (which was stacked full of cash) and headed up to the nightclub and oh god the night is a total blur from that point on. I just hope that nobody but myself had a camera. The last thing I recall is playing a game in which you have to suck on a beer mat and pass it onto the next person who has to suck it off your face. Entertainment value of 100%, but seriously, I may well have accidentally kissed a bloke. Please don’t tell my dad.