The Accidental Sex Tourist


| January/February 2000


In December 1987, my 20-year-old son Johnny and I were in a boat approaching a smallish tropical island off Fiji with long, sandy beaches and a peaceful blue lagoon surrounded by white coral reefs against which the Pacific surf was breaking. You might imagine a luxurious hotel nestled amongst the palms, with discreetly placed cabins, a large pool, and a smiling, attentive Fijian staff. You would be wrong. As our boat rounded a promontory, our host proudly pointed out where we would live--a tin-roofed shack, with corrugated iron sheeting tacked onto the sides, reminiscent of the Rio or Johannesburg slums portrayed on television.

Our guidebook had remarked: "If you are lucky enough to be invited to a Fijian village . . ." And we had been, by a Fijian man called Benny, whom we met on the ferry. We had also done other things that the guidebook told us to do: We were wearing the sarongs, or sulus, worn by Fijian men and women, and we were carrying our sevusevu, or gift, to the village headman.