After the usual "one beer" night in Sydney, I struggle a little on this Saturday morning. I throw what I've got into my waterproofed bag but internally focus on my credit card and passport. Quantas treads me well and after a short 3 hour flight I am standing on Nadi Airport dealing with a massive dude in a skirt. Scotland pops into my mind for a second and I start negotiating a deal to get a ride to Pacific Harbour, which is 160 km away. 80 Fijian Dollars seems to be a good deal. A friend of Mr Skirt shakes my hand introduces himself as Police man with a side business. He hardly fits into the car with his massive shoulders. He senses my negative comfort and says "Don't worry everything will be fine. Just relax." Really comforting to look into his white teeth showing grin. Well alright let's see. I give him the cash at a petrol station assuming he needs to fill up the tank. But he just gets a coke and we keep going.
He drops me off at the bus stop in Nadi saying this was his "other car" and I had to swap vehicles. I don't argue with that dude. He takes of and leaves me alone with an Indian cab driver who of course doesn't know about the initial deal and the money I just put down the drain. My new cab man isn't as tall and strong and I am willing to "get the shits" with him. After a bit of back and forth I put down another 60 Fijian bucks but tell him that I will hand over the cash ones we arrive at our destination.
At another petrol station a couple of minutes later.
My new friend gets out of "the cab" and really fills up the fuel. While he does that a strong and very drunk guy approaches "le cab" to borrow a lighter. My cab driver hands it over and Mr Drunk leaves into a dark alley behind the scenes. We are about to leave the petrol station but we keep following "the lighter" into that dark corner. This is where I am losing my guts, brains and all the travelling experience I have gained so far. The alarm just went off. The moment when you think this is all a setup and a conspiracy solely against you. They have planned this move for ages and they do it to everyone, every day. I am telling him "Mate, I really feel uncomfortable, let's just turn around. I get you 20 new lighters." He senses my anxiety and really does turn around quickly and tells me to relax. (I just heard that sentence and that didn't go to well). Mr drunk lights a fire in the alley, approaches us while we are turning and really just hands over the lighter.
Turtle necking has never been less unpleasant. I am tensed and worried. It's dark and it rains but after 2 and a half hours we finally reach our destination. Team dormitory has 2 bottles of whisky on the table and welcomes me with a warm "Hello Mario". Sweet, bring it on…I need a drink.