November, 2007 Archives

Those of you who chose Samoa or Tonga as my final destination in Marty‘s “Where Will Tony Die?” deadpool are out of luck (for now anyway). But they were good choices and either could have been a winner.

Unfortunately for you (but not, of course, for me), in Samoa the insects don’t carry many diseases. If they did, things could have turned out a whole lot worse as my blood appears to smell like the nectar of the gods. On the first morning in Apia, following an overnight flight that was too short to get quite enough sleep, and after eventually arriving at my lodgings for the week (a feat made rather more difficult by the no-show of the pre-arranged shuttle they were meant to be sending), I tried to grab a few hours kip. Approximately 15 minutes after falling asleep I was awakened by some friendly staff knocking my door and asking if I wanted any breakfast. I shouted a “no thanks” through the door, and went to turn over to go back to sleep, but then realised that I couldn’t feel or move my right leg. I frantically raced through my mental list of insect bites to see which might cause this, but I was too tired and a little too panicked to get very far in that process. I managed to clamber out of bed and walk about the room a bit until gradually the feeling returned. Relieved, and hoping it wasn’t just a temporary recovery, I jumped straight back into bed and slept for another 4 hours. When I woke I had a large red lump on my leg, but could still move. Over the rest of the week that lump was joined by about 300 more, spread all over my arms, legs, hands, face, neck, and feet.

Your other opportunity in Samoa was some sort of suntroke related fatality. There only seemed to be two weather settings: aggressive thunderstorm or oppressive heat that burns every piece of exposed skin within 30 seconds. The sunburn I ended up with in Samoa was so bad that several weeks later, on the flight from Auckland to Dunedin, after a flight attendent threw hot coffee all over me, they thought they’d scalded my arms. But unless it causes skin cancer later in life (in which case you’ll need to check Marty’s small print very carefully), it was non-fatal.

Tonga came much closer, however. Everything went swimmingly until my penultimate day when I finally got around to going on an island tour. One of the stops on said tour was to explore some caves that seemed to be very popular with locals and tourists alike. Each of us was provided with a candle to light our way, apart from a German girl at the very rear who was given the only torch. The candles were almost entirely useless, but luckily I was right behind the tour guide and relied on keeping close enough behind him to match every step he took. This worked fine until we had to stop to wait for the others to catch up (who were also presumably not having much success with the candles and had to measure each step more carefully). Some locals were making their way back and needed to squeeze past us, so the guide asked me to step to the side to give them room. I made the mistake of assuming that he would only ask me to step aside if there was actually somewhere to step to – and promptly fell over the edge. I’m not entirely sure how he managed it, but the guide managed to grab my arm as I vanished and haul me back up onto the path. My candle seemed to take a very long time to hit whatever would have otherwise have broken my fall. Thankfully I manage to end up with little more than a couple of badly scraped fingers, two very large bruises just below each knee, and a noticeable limp for the next few hours.

From what I can tell New Zealand is significantly safer than most other places in this part of the world, so if I were allowed to enter the competition, I’d be picking Australia right now. I hear a significant number of tourists die there each year…

As easy as falling off a ledge



OMW 2007-11-10


Apia Centre