The good ship Southern Pearl arrived in Suva on last night. However, since we had been to Wallis and there’s a particular breed of snail that exists on Wallis that the Fijians definitely do not want on their island, we weren’t allowed to enter the port until morning, lest one of them naughty snails was hiding on the bottom of an improperly cleaned container and was eluding the snail-hunter-in-chief by hiding in the dark like some crafty badger.
So we drifted out in the ocean for the night. You’ve got to be careful when drifting: you can move massive distances, even with the engine off. Hit a reef and it’s game over for your career at sea – you’ll be lucky to escape jail. Do you know how long it takes for a cargo container such as the Pearl (top speed 15 nautical miles per hour) to come to a stop after you turns its engines off? Two miles. Seriously.
The next day, it was goodbye from me and goodbye from him as I disembarked the Pearl for the last time. My three week odyssey which took me to three of my remaining countries — some of the most remote countries in the world — was over. I can’t thank Rowan Moss, Captain Jim Hebden, Pacific Forum Line, Neptune Shipping, Captain Don and the crew of the Southern Pearl enough.
With a song in my heart and a spring in my step I hit the streets of Suva. I met up with Sandy Fong, my CouchSurf host from when I was here last, for a spot of lunch. Suva town was hopping with people cramming for Christmas. Sandy was having friends over tonight, so we arranged for me to stay at the South Seas backpackers and meet with her tomorrow for a Christmas Eve barbecue at her brother’s place.
South Seas was pretty quiet. I threw my bags down in the empty dorm and waddled over to the window to do a piece to camera. As I was nattering away to my own fist, my roommate entered the dorm. I’m used to people staring at me as I walk down the street talking to my camera, but even so, it was a pretty dickish first impression.
I decided to make amends by introducing myself to Renato and guessing that he came from Peru. I knew he came from Peru, reception had told me. We headed down to the TV lounge and I showed him a couple of my videos that I shot in Peru a few years ago, including this one of the Inca Trail, which is as funny as it is informative(!):
Outside, as always in Suva, it was pissing down with rain. I was keen to start drinking, but Renato and I decided to wait until the rain held off for a minute. We arrived at Bad Dog at 5pm, just in time for happy hour (beers F$2.50 a glass: NICE!) and the night of the Eve of Christmas Eve began.
After Renato and I (mostly I) put the world to rights, the night descended into a series of random meetings with some of the goodies and baddies that I had made friends with last time I was here. At 11pm we were shunted next door to O’Reilly’s Irish Bar: the drunken heart of Suva on a Friday night.
More comings and goings of infrequent hilarity ensued, the memories (as so often occurs when I have nowhere to really be in the morning) get a little fuzzy after midnight, but the next morning I woke up in the correct bed in the correct dorm in the correct hotel, happy that my autopilot mode is still functioning above and beyond the call of duty.