Sacred Peaks and Eight Legged Freaks


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Oceania » Fiji » Mamanuca Islands » Mana Island
November 2nd 2002
Published: January 10th 2021
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We spent a week at Mana Island, in the Mamanuca Group, off Viti Levu's east coast. It was all fairly rustic and laid back, and we spent most of the week just lazing around, either on the beach or by the pool. The Kids Club did an excellent job of entertaining our offspring, giving Issy and me some much needed "us time". There were excellent beaches on both sides of the island, so if we found ourselves getting a bit sandblasted we just took a short stroll across to the opposite shore. The snorkeling was excellent, with extensive coral reefs teeming with colourful fish close in to the beach.

Now I can put up with lazing around for a while as much as the next person, but I do eventually start to get slightly itchy feet. I needed an expedition. I'll hike around the island I thought, and while I'm at it why don't I have a go at scrambling up to its highest point. Perhaps unsurprisingly no one seemed to be champing at the bit to join me. It seems that not a lot of people come to Mana to go hiking. I wandered along deserted beaches and over rocks for a couple of hours without seeing another soul. Time to head uphill I thought. The peak seemed to be a bit bare and barren. There were no trees, just occasional patches of long grass growing out of loose black volcanic soil - very loose volcanic soil, of the two steps forward one step backwards variety. It was like trying to climb through wet cement. There were no signs of any tracks or other people. The views from the top over the resort, the turquoise waters, and the surrounding islands were stunning, and I was now starting to scratch my head a bit as to why no one else seemed to be interested in coming up here.

I traipsed back down the other side towards the resort. Finally some signs of life - a padlocked gate in a barbed wire fence. I climbed over the gate and then happened to notice the sign on the other side - "Entry strictly forbidden". Uh oh. It seems that the island's hill is sacred to the locals and they didn't want anyone trying to climb it. And if that wasn't enough of a deterrent it seems that the environment is so fragile that even walking slowly through the soil makes it erode. Panic. The hill didn't look to me to be any lower now than it was before I trampled all over it, but I was struggling to be sure. There were no trees up there, and I was wearing a bright coloured shirt; everyone at the resort must have seen me. If I'd done this a couple of hundred years ago I'm sure the locals would have boiled me up in a pot and eaten me. I changed all my clothes and tried to keep a low profile, but I couldn't get rid of the nagging feeling that punishment was coming. I didn't have to wait long.

We had a bure on the beachfront to ourselves, with two interconnecting rooms. We strolled back from dinner the following evening to find a large, hairy and very scary looking spider in the sink in our bathroom. Now I have a serious aversion to spiders, and our offspring have inherited this gene. Issy on the other hand finds them "cute", something I've never quite been able to comprehend. She called the kids into the bathroom to show them the monster. They were suitably unimpressed. "How do I get rid of it", she thought. "I know, I'll turn on the tap and wash it down the plughole". It seems the spider had other ideas. As soon as the tap came on it climbed very quickly out of the sink, leapt onto the floor, bolted out of the bathroom into our room, and disappeared. Now it was my turn to chime in. "I'm not sleeping in this room until we've found it and got rid of it", I informed my bride. "I'll fix it" she replied. "You go and lie down with the kids in the other room, close the interconnecting door, and I'll spray our room with insect repellent."

Fumigation complete, she joined the rest of us in the other room. We decided we should spend the time waiting for the monster to die trying to get our now slightly nervous offspring into dreamland. Scott was leaning against his bedhead with his arms behind his head when he felt something furry move behind his hand. Uh oh. He pulled away to reveal yet another eight legged freak. This must have been dad. It made the other one look like a midget. Issy grabbed a shoe and whacked it a few times. Every time she hit it we couldn't help but notice that it was so big that we could still see most of its legs sticking out from under the shoe. Satisfied that dad was dead, we made another attempt to get our now very agitated crew off to sleep. A few minutes later it was Emma's turn to let out a terrified moan. We looked up to see yet another hairy monster hanging from the light fitting directly above her head, and looking distinctly like it was about to lower itself onto her. I'd seen horror movies less scary than this. We all retreated to the the first room in the hope that monster number one was now dearly departed, and repeated the fumigation process on room number two. Issy had done a thorough job. All the cans of insect repellent were now empty, and I was fairly sure we were more at risk of dying from insect repellent poisoning than being eaten by eight legged monsters. Four of us crammed into the double bed while Issy slept on the couch. Sleep was very intermittent, interspersed by nightmares of being chased by speedy, human-sized arachnids. Issy thought that perhaps we should report the infestation. "No, there are no issues with spiders on Mana", was the response. The sacred peak's revenge perhaps?

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11th January 2021

Arachnids
I'm with Issy on this one - I find them cute. But I also keep a very healthy distance from them. We have a Huntsman living in our car, and after numerous unsuccessful 'relocations' we've given up and decided to coexist... he has promised to not make a sudden appearance while we are driving, and we have agreed the car can be his home. I need to catch up on your other old blogs, they are fun to read. I'm in awe that you can remember so many details after all this time :)
11th January 2021

Eight legged freaks
Thanks for your kind words. If a huntsman took up permanent residence in our car I think we'd be headed off to the dealer to buy a new one....
16th January 2021
Looking north from Mana Island

Fiji Islands
Over 300 islands of beauty.
17th January 2021
Looking north from Mana Island

Fiji
Many thanks for your comment. Wonderful place indeed. Hoping we might be allowed a travel bubble to go there in the not too distant future. Wishful thinking?
17th January 2021
Looking north from Mana Island

Looking north from Manna Island
Must have made the trip worthwhile...views one can only dream of.
17th January 2021
Looking north from Mana Island

Mana Island
Thanks for your comment. Fantastic place indeed. Hoping for a Fiji travel bubble in the not too distant future......
17th January 2021
Looking north from Mana Island

Looking north from Mana Island
Looking north from Mana Island - Must have made the trip worthwhile...views one can only dream of.

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