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Fiji Travel Journal Part Ten: Balloons, Perverts and Tequila

Part One: Donuts, Margaritas and Waistcoats
Part Two: Airports, Adoption and the Kindness of Strangers
Part Three: Binkies, Babes and Bathtubs
Part Four: Carbs, Catamarans and Cast Away
Part Five: Baronesses, Orations and Foreign Gems
Part Six: Mushroom Brains, Front Naps and Tuna Smashing
Part Seven: Entree, Main Course and Dessert
Part Eight: Periodicals, Pool Hops and Australian Units
Part Nine: Prostitutes, Punking and Proposals


We turn the room upside down, looking for the lost camera. It’s tense. There’s the worry about the physical property, of course, but there’s also concern about the content. Suddenly all those photos of me licking a bag of pineapple lumps seem regrettable, and Annie’s no longer finding it amusing that I took pictures of her nip-slip two days ago.

We’re starting to get snappy with each other when I find it under Annie’s bedside table, and she instantly remembers putting it there the night before.

This is the last day of having our accommodation paid for, and so we’re moving to a more moderately priced resort in an hour. This means it’s our final breakfast here, and while I woke up with good intentions about channelling Kate Moss and just eating fruit, it all falls apart when I sneak a bite of Annie’s toast. Toast. Toast! Where has this gluten-filled god been hiding? Annie can’t stomach it and pushes her plate away. She’s busy texting Alan, our new friend from the night before, and after she finishes her orange juice she goes to meet him outside. I finish her toast then make it through what is surely the equivalent of a loaf of bread, single-serve jam packets piled up next to my plate, plastic proof of my gluttony.

Joey gets it.
Joey gets it.

After my toast bender I meet them outside and they are drinking beer, empty bottles already at their feet, chatting about their evening. They ended up being taken to a nightclub by Freddie, the Fijian pianist in the band. They danced. They think. Their memories seem hazy at best, but the evening reminds Alan of the time his friend ended up in Thailand at a dodgy brothel and he had to pay two grand to get out, two grand mate, and you can bet his wife wasn’t happy.

I don’t want to ask what made him think of this story.

We go to check out, and it’s exhausting. Annie has had two beers on an empty stomach and I’ve eaten enough baked product for a small family. We’re dopey and lazy and we’re walking bellies first, jandal-clad feet shuffling across the marbled floor. We ask the concierge if they will take us to the next resort, for free? No, we are informed, but you can get a taxi for $5.

We look at each other, unwashed hair covering our eyes, and shrug. Ok. Fine. Let’s just commit to this. Our next resort is almost visible from where we’re standing, we could walk there easily. This is the probably the most indulgent thing we’ve done, and we snicker to ourselves about how naughty we’re being during our two-minute taxi trip.

We can’t check in for a few hours, but the front desk stores our bags and says we are welcome to use the pool. We’ve barely sat down in the loungers when a waiter arrives and asks if we’d like a drink. “Yes, beer” Annie announces. “But only if it’s cheap.”

I relax back in my chair with my Jilly Cooper, and Annie attempts to read her impulse buy—a book that bears the sticker “If you liked Fifty Shades, you’ll love this!” She’s reading a book that’s a knock off of a book that was fan-fiction of a book that was named Twilight. She’s about six steps removed from actual literature, and so it’s no surprise that she complains every few paragraphs about how terrible it is.

The waiter arrives with our beers and hands Annie a piece of paper to sign.

“Twenty one dollars? Are you SERIOUS?” she bellows, while our waiter stares back at her, confused.

“Ridiculous! This is ridiculous! Twenty one dollars? Seriously, would you pay that for a beer?”

It’s clear from his amused expression that no, he would not pay that for a beer. And that he probably wouldn’t be any good at poker.

Annie asks his name, and he replies “you can call me Bob”. His nametag says something else entirely, starting with V and peppered with Ks and Is, something I wouldn’t want to try to pronounce. It’s subtitled with “My passion is VOLLEYBALL”—obviously the ‘flair’ that staff at this resort are forced to display.

I'm sure it will make me unpopular, but I love workplace flair. Almost as much as this guy does.
I’m sure it will make me unpopular, but I love workplace flair. Almost as much as this guy does.

I ask if he likes playing volleyball or just watching it, and he says both. Annie pipes up and challenges him to a  competition later when he’s off work, winner gets the next round. Most people build a relationship like they might get into the ocean: testing the temperature with a toe, slowly walking in, looking for dangers. Annie prefers to run headfirst into the waves, screaming, arms waving, eyes squeezed shut.

Bob doesn’t know how to respond to her request. He looks at us for a moment and says “Um… I have to go now”. He turns to leave and Annie calls him back, yelling “WAIT”. He returns and asks, “yes, ma’am?”

Annie says “SERIOUSLY, would you pay $21 for a beer?!”

We sip our overpriced beers and Annie rummages in her handbag. I’m not sure what she’s searching for, but she seems delighted to find a black balloon. She blows it up and holds her balloon in one hand, beer in the other, and contemplates the horizon, the perfect picture of zen.

Soon Alan arrives, and Annie gives him the balloon. He’s baffled, and although this is an entirely appropriate response to being handed a balloon, we find it hysterically funny, and we’re set off giggling again. Alan says he says he will give the balloon to a little boy, because he doesn’t want to feel like a deviant. We convince him through our chortling that gender is irrelevant, and when a little girl in a pink jumpsuit walks past, he hands it to her.

The little girl walks to a nearby table and shows her mother and sister the balloon, pointing back at Alan. He yells, “Oh, hope it’s ok! Y’see, I wanted to give it to a little boy, so people wouldn’t think I was a pervert!” He ends his explanation with a hooting exclamation point of a laugh. The mother just stares at him, perhaps wondering how it came to pass that a bearded shirtless man is yelling “pervert!” at her at 11am on a Sunday.

Surely the day that perversion is supposed to be kept secret.
Surely the day that perversion is supposed to be kept secret.

The girl’s sister looks at us with bewilderment. Immediately I’m horrified—we’ve unintentionally shifted the balance of power in this family. “Quick, Annie, it’s not fair!” I say. “Do you have another balloon?” Annie fumbles in her bag but all she can produce is a pink clothes peg. Deciding that this would probably muddle the situation even more, we leave it.

Annie groans and says how ridiculous it would be if we did tequila, and instead of agreeing with her, Alan takes this as some sort of dare. Five minutes later we’re holding empty shot glasses, lemon squeezed between our teeth, Annie lamenting about needing to vom. The mother now has to explain to her children what the grownups are doing with the tiny glasses, and I feel like our little group has definitely removed some of the holiday from this woman’s vacation.

“Ok, maybs I’m going to vom”, Annie says. “Or maybs I’m just going to get naked and do weird stuff”.

Alan needs no further prompting. Another round of tequila and three bottles of beer arrive almost immediately.

We sit with our beers and people-watch. I frown at a little sadistic boy who’s throwing his friends into the pool, cackling with every shove, doing little victory dances. I wonder what kind of parent would have raised a demon like this, and then a bald man looms into view, wearing mirrored shades and a purple rash vest that he’s squeezed into like a sausage in its casing. “Nah, mate”, he says half-heartedly to the kid, who has been literally throwing crying girls in head first, and I despair for the future of the human race.

There was definitely a touch of this going on.
There was definitely a touch of this going on.

Alan points out a man with a really long beard, and we sit and stare at him, a creepy trio of voyeurs. After some consideration, I say “I think he’s a Bevan”. Annie announces he looks like a Susan, and starts giggling through her teeth. I start laughing how funny her Muttley laugh is, then she starts laughing at me laughing, and our laughs sustain themselves for a few minutes. Alan waits for us to stop before he says thoughtfully, with great gravitas, “He looks like a Geoff. A Geoff… Horn”.

All of a sudden there’s nothing funnier than the name Geoff Horn, and we cackle like witches. Alan’s baffled, and tries to wrangle back control of the conversation by saying, “well, there’s lots of bloody, um, ugly people in the world, but I’m really glad they get out there.” This just makes the situation worse, and Annie and I are falling off our chairs with laughter. “What?!” asks Alan. “It’s just… nice that you like… ugly people” I manage to get out, before Annie and I are shrieking with laughter again.

Neither of us know why we’re laughing, which makes it even funnier. “Geoff… Horn!” Annie says, and we’re off again. Alan is sipping beer and looking embarrassed, and considering he was the one yelling “pervert” at a woman not long ago, I feel like we probably have crossed a line somewhere.

We’re interrupted by Bob, here to tell us that our room is ready.

“Oh, BNE” says Annie, “we can get into the rest of that rum”.

To be continued…

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6 thoughts on “Fiji Travel Journal Part Ten: Balloons, Perverts and Tequila”

  1. Oh, man, I have to get a life. I am living vicariously through you two. I’m laughing like a witch at Geoff Horn! When does the book come out about *all* of the things you two have done since you’ve known each other? I’m buying it!

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