In our world the negative stuff is confronting us from all sides. Monkeypox, Corona Virus, DEF shortages and ATM assaults in foreign countries. Sometimes you just want to hold your hand up and ask the ride operator to stop the ride so you can get off. When things around you start breaking down and it seems like the walls are falling down around you, what level of crazy do you use?
Even in places like paradise there is a certain level of chaos. Part supplies, food shortages, taxis service, rental cars and crazy people encounters. Just because you might be in crystal clear, aqua blue waters at your favorite island paradise doesn’t mean your perimeter walls are not vulnerable.
Just the other day for example. We had traveled back to the velvet prison of Vuda Marina to collect a part that had to be shipped to us. While there we rented a car for a few days of running around chasing parts and supplies so we could head back out to the islands for another week or so.
The morning after our arrival, I went up the mast of Dazzler to replace our anchor/tri masthead light. The new install was straight forward and installed nicely. There were only two wires to connect. Easy right? Why didn’t it work? I had tested the light before heading up the mast. There must be some other wiring issue.
Back on deck I grabbed my multimeter to start digging through lockers and testing wiring connections. I did find a 1Amp fuse that had blown. From my fuse supply I was able to locate and quickly fix that issue. However, the on/off/on DPDT toggle switch was testing like it wasn’t working properly.
Off to Lautoka in the rental car to start the adventure of finding a replacement switch. We figured that we’d stop by the ATM and market while in town as well. Who would have known that there were so many small electrical parts and supply businesses in the area? After we checked about seven or eight different businesses we were directed to the mother load of electrical supply stores. Island Refrigeration. We bought two of the switches for 15 Fijian dollars ($6.90 USD).
Next on the to do list was to stop by the bank ATM in town. We almost always use an ATM attached to a bank. The streets of town were bustling. Cars, buses, pedestrians and the daily goings on about town. We found a parking space nearly in front of the ANZ ATM. Jilly chose to remain in the car. As I got out I told her to lock the doors.
There I was on the sidewalk strolling with purpose toward one of the three ATM machines. Yes I know all the signs to look for before using the ATM. Like checking the card receiver, looking around to asses your surroundings and the like. I slipped my card into the slot and gave a quick look around again before punching in my secret code. Just about the time I was selecting a few options, I was blindsided by a woman who didn’t understand the concept of personal space.
She was pushing up against me and asking for money. She kept insisting that she was crazy and that her and her mother both needed assistance. She kept pointing to her head while repeating the same hysterical crazy babbling. Well not knowing what was going to happen I quickly hit the cancel button on the ATM and collected my card.
Just about that time a bank security guard pulled the woman away from me. I quickly made my way back toward the car. The woman re-engaged me a few more times before I got in the car. Each time the security guard would pull her away. After getting back inside the car, the woman lunged at the car window and started pounding on the glass while continuing her rambling. The security guard once again pulled her away and literally kicked her in the butt while pushing her down the sidewalk.
It was about that time that Jilly began telling me how she had barely gotten the doors locked before the woman tried to open the driver’s side car door. She said the woman was beating on the glass and asking for money for a short while before the woman turned and made a bee line for me at the ATM.
Wow! That’s not something I would have expected to encounter. Check that off the bucket list.
As if that wasn’t enough… We drove off toward the liquor store to get some supplies. Once inside the store we loaded up the counter top. When I attempted to pay for our purchase with my credit card a declined message was on the card reader. Humm. That’s funny. We tried it again with the same results. Wow! Let’s try a different card. A few moments later another declined message on the display screen.
Time to call my bank back in the states. But first, I decided to walk to the WestPac bank next door to get cash from the ATM. Nope! No good there either. Boo hoo for Dan and Jilly. Traveling the world on a sailboat visiting paradise here and there and no way to get any cash or liquor. Fear not! The diligently over active fraud department for our bank back home must have had a triple shot of espresso. Whatever happened to establish the hold on our cards was quickly corrected by a Skype telephone call to the states.
As I start walking back toward the liquor store, I see a local Fijian man walking toward me from across the street. He starts badgering me for money. Insisting that I buy him something from the liquor store. I tell him to get lost as I enter the store. One of the clerks is physically keeping the man from entering the store. He even locks the door behind me as we both step inside.
In our last experiences here in Fiji we have seen many individuals sitting on the sidewalks in front of stores with a small cup in their hand quietly hoping for a few coins to be deposited. These experiences we had today were well over the top from normal.
So, I ask you again, what level of crazy would you respond with? I’ve inquired from several locals how they would respond, because I wouldn’t want to go to jail for doing the wrong thing. In a third world country the authorities might even side with their citizens regardless of what I say or do. Most of the responses I got were that of surprise. Although one man told me that he had a similar encounter in Lautoka about two weeks prior. Perhaps it’s a climate change of sorts that may be festering among the poor against tourists. Whatever it is I suggest that you practice your situational awareness always while traveling. We will keep our guard up as well and hope for a better experience tomorrow.
Who knows? Maybe this tourist just might have a case of the crazies and decide to explode with boisterous and obnoxious retort during any future encounters. If two crazies are having a verbal exchange on a sidewalk in a third world country, does it get anyone’s attention? 1 Crazy + 1 Crazy = ???? (Possibly sparks, fireworks, jail or all of the above?)
Until the next high seas or land adventure, keep your head on a swivel, hold onto your wallet and keep your crazy button charged and at the ready in your back pocket just in case. Cheers!