I wish I could say the last night of my cycling trip was memorable. And actually it was. But not for the right reasons.
Mosquito Lagoon Hotel partially lived up to its promise. The mosquito bit: a big party of the bloodsucking insects took flying lessons in my room. I’m not so sure about the lagoon part. Rather naively, I thought I was going to be sleeping in a chalet over the water, able to gaze over the lagoon, then jump down and swim in it.
That’s what the blurb promised. Except you should never believe the blurb, even here.
The hotel never recorded my booking. They parked me in a ramshackle garden chalet instead.
I can’t complain though. Really, it was very nice. Freshly painted about twenty years ago – and with an almighty reassuring shiny padlock on the door. Outside my door stretched a washing line where the staff squealed and hung up their swimwear. And just beyond lay the bathrooms, every sink empty of soap and every toilet lacking paper.
But all was not lost. I had a little balcony looking out on a blue tarpaulin full of garden waste and the hotel’s dinky little swimming hole. And fifteen or twenty feet away, just visible through a gap in the trees, the sea.
I know, I’m getting fussy. Lots of people would kill for a glimpse of water, and here am I quibbling over twenty feet.
But this is Samoa, you learn to expect wonderful sea views, especially when you’re paying for it.
Still, my little shack must be worth it. Especially after all the uncertainty of checking in, almost as hard as cycling here.
There was no reception, but an ‘office’, carefully hidden behind a pile of palm leaves that had just been chopped down. A man in a patterned shirt glowered behind the counter. When I said ‘Talofa’, he swivelled his eyes and stared at me. I gave him my name, and he looked puzzled. I gave him my booking receipt too, and he stared a bit more, first at me, then at the receipt. Maybe it was written in Swahili
Then he checked his big room organiser. Something was wrong. He asked for my name again, stared at the room organiser a bit more, then back at my receipt again. This process went on for several minutes, until he shouted for someone who didn’t appear and asked my name again.
Puzzled myself, I sat down and studied the water left in my bottle. I really wanted to dump my bags in whatever room I had and drink something cold. Something exceptionally cold. I had just cycled fifty-three kilometres in thirty plus degrees of heat.
But the man continued to stare, shout at passing staff members, and repeatedly ask my name. Becoming exasperated, I suggested I phone the booking agents to see if they could work out what had gone wrong. At which point, the man stood up, stared at his organiser again, and held out a key. Then another man led me through the little garden, and brought me to my own piece of paradise.
In the end, I didn’t hate the Mosquito Lagoon Hotel. It’s situated in a wonderful spot, right by the lagoon, but they really need to get organised. Losing room bookings sucks. And as for the garden chalets, they need to be updated – or demolished. And the restaurant? How can you run out of fish when you’re right in the middle of the Pacific Ocean?