Table of Contents
My Basic Warning
Don’t walk on hot rocks! I’m serious!
This isn’t exactly a Public Service Announcement. I’m probably telling you something you already know. But seriously, don’t fucking walk on hot rocks.
How it Went Down
I always wanted to do this I thought. It’s something tourists do all the time I told myself. No, this was a mound of hot rocks, and you don’t exactly walk across them as you hop back and forth between each leg atop an uneven surface of alarming heat. It turns out that I always wanted to walk across a smooth bed of hot coals, which is actually what tourists do all the time.
The traditional event would play out like this: The native Fijians would cook us lunch spread out over mounds of hot rocks. The Fijians would then take the food away and joyfully dance on the rocks for the bewildered tourists to gawk at. After they finished, we were to enjoy our meal and laugh about how we just broadened our culture horizons.
Well, the Fijians cooked the meal and revealed the normal-looking white rocks which were apparently red-hot. One Fijian, the leader, then told the crowd that Fijians had been walking on hot rocks forever. It was in their blood. Only they were genetically predisposed to walk on the rocks. Four men then danced on the rocks as expected. It was impressive. But then something unexpected happened – they actually asked for a volunteer to dance on the rocks. I jumped at it, naturally.
Quick background fact: Ever since I was a kid, I always volunteered, or was volunteered for, the crazy, crowd-gathering events. But when I walked up to the rocks in the center of the circle, the head Fijian dancer looked at me like I was crazy – a look that insinuated I was insulting his culture. I was a little confused now. But, at any rate, after he nodded to me, I stepped on.
How do I explain the feeling? If you could imagine heating up a pan on the stove at high heat, and then placing your hands onto the pan, alternating one by one for five seconds, and, oh yeah, with your entire body weight on the pans, you’d get the idea. I realized it was a massive mistake immediately, yet I found it important to walk on the rocks just as long as the natives did. When I was finished, the head Fijian looked at me and gesturing to the ocean said, “You should go put your feet in the water.” I opted to sit and eat lunch instead.
Caitlin and I were dining on pork and yams when the pain started. On a scale of 1-10 at this point, the pain was a 6, so I decided to jog to the ocean. This was the only time in my entire life that I was disappointed that ocean water was too warm. No real relief so I jogged back to the lunch table.
A Delicate Conversation
Caitlin: “How do you feel?”
Me: “Sorta like my skin is melting off. Thanks for asking. (pause) This pork is delicious. (pause) Hey, can we go back to the room soon? I feel like the pain is getting much, much worse.”
Caitlin: “What? On a scale if 1-10, what the pain like now?”
Me: “An 8. No, check that. 9. Ok, shit, we have to go RIGHT NOW! It’s an 11”
It took a little while but eventually my body realized what I had done. I gingerly, but briskly, made it back to our mosquito-infested room and sat on the bed. Cait grabbed a bucket from the front office, filled it up with cool-ish water and placed it at my feet. Again, no relief. Caitlin went back and brought ice. My pain was getting worse – Just pick any number above 11.
With a look that screamed “Eureka,” Caitlin grabbed a bottle of vodka, mixed it with orange juice and handed me two pills. Then she brought me another drink. Then another drink. Then I went to the nurse and had my feet wrapped. Then I had another drink. Then I played volleyball while the nurse openly spoke of my disrespect to her in that I decided to attempt to enjoy my vacation by playing volleyball with burnt feet. Then I returned to the front office where the hotel owner, Rick (if I recall), my new friend Andrew, and I had this conversation.
Rick: “Why would you do something that stupid”
Me: (getting angry) “Why would your employees ask for volunteers and why would they actually allow me to do it?”
Rick: “Well no one has ever actually volunteered before.”
Andrew: “If I wasn’t diving at the time, I would’ve volunteered. I’ve always wanted to do that.”
Andrew: “Oh, but I went and talked to the Fijians. They said that they ice their feet for almost an hour before stepping on the rocks.”
Rick: (feeling stupid, walks away)
Me: (getting angrier) “Are you fucking kidding me?”
So, apparently, I did something even the genetically predisposed, callused-feet, performing-three-times-a-week Fijians don’t do – which is walking on the rocks with no preparation. Fuck them. Fuck fire walking. You have been properly warned.