Thursday, August 18, 2011

What Is That Smell?

There are a lot of smells in Samoa.  Some are tantalizing.  I love getting a whiff of barbeque on the breeze.  There are flowers and scented plants galore.  They generally smell great, although some are a bit strong for my taste when they’re strung together and hung around my neck.

We’ve been working on writing in Years 7 and 8.  Here’s a primer on basic story components:

Setting:  My fale, at 3:30 a.m.

Characters:  Me, my host father and his large flashlight and a huge, ripe breadfruit.


Sleep was slow in coming that night because the dogs were barking without let up.  Usually I can tell if it’s just a “Hey, how ya doin’” bark or a “Holy crap, I’ve never seen that guy before, some human better check this out!” bark.  The dogs were doing both versions, all night.

I got up to use the facilities in the wee hours.  After returning to my mosquito net I couldn’t get back to sleep.  The dogs were barking, the roosters were crowing and the neighbors were snoring.  Have I mentioned we live in close proximity?

About 3:30 a.m., the dogs were still going nuts, with the one sitting in front of my front door leading the pack.  I saw a light and sat up.  Tangled my hair in the mosquito net, swore and laid back down.  Eyes open wide, watching the light come toward my fale.  I heard steps and the howling of the dogs escalated, then suddenly quieted.  Ah, it must be someone in my family.   The light from the torch swept across my front windows.  Then shone in through the windows on the side.  As I was questioning if it was my host father checking on my security or someone with less honorable intentions I heard an explosion. 

I leaped into the mosquito net at the same time as the man with the torch yelled and started running toward the explosion.   After a few minutes of his light flashing on the windows of my house and the ground, he turned back toward his fale.

Eventually, the dogs and I fell asleep.  In the morning, I circled my house, trying to figure out what had caused the explosion.  As I suspected, it was a ripe breadfruit hitting my tin roof.  I’m guessing it was 10 pounds of breadfruit.  It was a coincidence that it fell while my host father was checking on my safety.  He thought it was someone throwing a big rock at him and was ready for a fight.  I just wanted the dogs to shut up and everyone to go to bed.

A few days later, I’m still experiencing the aftermath of the event.  Have you ever smelled a large, rotten breadfruit?  It smells overly sweet, with a bit of a tang and just a hint of that rotten, musky odor of decay.  I know it well because at least 20 over-ripe breadfruit have dropped from the tree over my house.  The pigs do their best to eat them all, but even eating like, well, pigs, there’s too much breadfruit to finish off. 

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