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

Half-Wallis Endurance Walk

WALLIS AND FUTUNA ISLANDS | Wednesday, 19 September 2018 | Views [262]

Last night, Michel suggested walking around Wallis. With the stifling heat and humidity, Wallis isn't perceived as a walker's paradise. This morning I opted for a test of endurance on the last day of the 33rd year of my life, and that's going around the northern half of the island in the heat of the day. After two cups of coffee, at exactly 10:22 AM, I set off relentlessly. With all the songs I've downloaded on Spotify I had no shortage of music for my toasty walk in the scorching Wallisian sun. Three locals stopped to offer me a lift today, but I had to explain as best I could that I'm walking because I want to. Wallis is one of the few Pacific islands in which I've faced a language barrier but it shoots down Lonely Planet's theory of how locals will stop and laugh in your face if you try to hitchhike. You also see more when you walk...

I continued to walk relentlessly for two hours until I reached Vailala where I filled my water bottle and got some pate and a baguette: the prototypical French picnic snack. Past Vaitupu at the northern tip of Wallis, it started to rain. Phones, cameras, and rain don't mix so I stuck my camera in my baguette bag and my phone in my back packet whilst the rain produced a cooling effect. There is less development on the western section of the island so I had to make sure my water bottle was full. On this remote corner, the roads are unpaved and the red dirt is something akin to the tobacco fields of western Cuba.

At 1:41 PM, I completed my half-Wallis endurance walk. Today I walked the upper half, and I plan to do the lower half this Friday. Food always tastes better after hard work and my French snack was no exception. After feasting on the side of the road, I hitchhiked in the back of a ute bound for Mata-utu.

I've vowed to fly Juliett at least once every day on this journey but this rain would wreak havoc all afternoon. At one point the rain hammered down suddenly and I had to land Juliett quickly and run for cover.

Lola is a doctor from Venezuela, and she would take cover with me on her bicycle as the rain came down. She's one of the very few people to immediately pick up that I have autism. After a long day of exploring on Wallis, evenings are largely the same: a light dinner of pasta and chicken schnitzel and then some chatter. Aunty Jo makes the best version of pears belle helene but she's not here, so Michel and I got creative in making an express version with tinned pears and chocolate pudding.

In five days here, I've grown to like it. Wallis is a prime example of a place where the journey is better than the destination. You don't come here for Michelin-starred food, gorgeous girls, or to be looked after all day. Instead, you come here for the sake of saying you've been here and have them ask "where the hell is that?" There is practically no information in any language about Wallis and even what little is in Lonely Planet is false and terribly misleading. In addition to what they state about hitchhking, they state that nobody walks anywhere and bicycles are unheard of. All three of those are wrong because Michel walks often, I've seen plenty of bicyles (including Michel's because he rides to work), and in many cases the first passing vehicle has stopped when I put my thumb out.

I made the decision yesterday that I'm skipping Futuna. It's funny how in some situations you say you've been to "Wallis & Futuna" when you've only been to Wallis, like how I've been to St. Pierre & Miquelon when I've actually only been to St. Pierre.

Tomorrow I turn 34, and I'm unsure if I feel it or not. After today, my legs are sore and my neck is burnt. I've accomplished a lot in nearly 34 years of life and it's an honour to be in one of the world's least known countries, let alone walk around half of it.

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