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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Overcoming a Fear

SAMOA | Tuesday, 11 October 2016 | Views [360]

Talofa! Last night I arrived in tropical Samoa, having been to my 37th country. Getting here last night didn't come without some headaches. When I made a turn with my baggage trolley just after passing through quarantine, my small bag fell and a bottle of wine inside broke! Quickly I had to get my computer and all my electrical equipment out and then clean out my backpack. Boo! That bottle of wine was supposed to be a sort of treat for reaching Samoa or, better yet, a huge hurdle I had to jump over today. Faleolo Airport is 35 km west of Apia so it's not a quick skip and a hop like some other Pacific islands. Fortunately I wasn't asked either by airport staff in Auckland or by Samoan immigration why I was flying in on a one-way ticket.

My top priority for this journey is Tokelau; one of the world's most difficult places to reach. There's no airport, and a boat only every 12 days or so. Locals have a higher priority at securing a passage than foreigners so if one boat is full I'll have to wait for the next one. That's the main reason I flew to Samoa on a one-way ticket. My friend Oliver put me in touch with his friend Robert, an expat Kiwi who has lived in Samoa for more than 15 years. He couldn't host me at his home but he helped me find a decent-priced place to stay. He advised me to get to work on getting to Tokelau straight away, so we went to the Tokelau Liaison Office to get the forms. Immediately what made me cringe was that I needed a medical report. For a second I was ready to skip Tokelau but then I felt like "I really can't allow my biggest fear to cause me to lose out on Tokelau. I came all this way and I cannot turn back." I also needed a police report, so we went to the police station first. 30 tala poorer, I had to come back the next day to pick it up. Doctors have scared me shitless my whole life! I'm not sure if it's the doctor itself or the fact that I could have something, such as high blood pressure. Robert has a portable blood pressure machine and he offered to take mine. After he took his own and the blood pressure of two of his Samoan workers, I said confidently "let's give it a go" Since I was very nervous, it was a little high at first but then it was normal! Robert called his doctor and asked if he could do a medical report for me, though I was hoping that he'd do it without actually seeing me. After a cup of tea we drove to the office of Dr. Navy Collins, a Samoan doctor. At first I thought "Navy" was a nickname from serving in the navy but that's his real name. Dr. Collins took my blood pressure and blood sugar, both of which came back healthy. Wow! For the first time in roughly 20 years I visited a doctor! My main obstacle to applying for residency in NZ is my longstanding fear of doctors, but that fear has been eased a little. The medical report set me back 100 tala, and even though I was told to come back to the police station tomorrow I thought I'd try going again today and picking it up. At the office I was told approval to visit Tokelau could take up to two weeks yet the next boat leaves next week. Fortunately the police report was ready, so I grabbed $20 and made a B-line for the office. Everything worked out in my favour today! Will all this effort, sweat, tears, and overcoming of fears pay off?

Relaxed, I hadn't eaten today. Samoans love to eat, but in a hot climate it's normal to not be as hungry. I picked up a chicken burger and then went out for a bit. All day I had taken only about three photos but that changed when I noticed the gorgeous technicolour sunset! Emma and Amanda are two gorgeous Kiwis from Auckland and I chatted to them for a minute before heading off to inquire about the ferry to American Samoa. When I returned I sat with them and Emma guessed correctly that I had Asperger's. They said after I left the first time they made some kind of remark. One of Emma's family members has Asperger's but said I'm much more social. It was a beautiful evening as I sat with two gorgeous Kiwis with a glass of sauvignon blanc for me and cocktails for them. What I planned on being only a glass of wine or two turned into about five, but after overcoming a fear, at least temporarily, I deserved it! And a magical Samoan sunset to boot.


Amanda and Emma decided on heading back to their room, and then I staggered back to mine. I can't believe I somewhat got over a huge fear today, and I feel the same about having been to 37 countries. I can say my first day in Samoa went exceptionally well!

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