When you think of a tropical island in the South Pacific, do you envision silence? Disturbed only by gentle waves lapping on the beach and birds chirping quietly in the jungle? Sorry, my brothers and sisters, but you are incorrect.
Here’s a blow by blow of my last night in Savaii before vacation.
10:30 p.m. I turn out the light and a few minutes later I’m in dreamland. A happy place with air conditioning and no bugs.
11:16 p.m. I was awakened by the sound of children’s laughter. Actually, it was the boys in the family who are 23, 21, 18 and 14. I believe the cousins who live on the other side of my house were with them. They are 13 and 16. They were in the fale closest to my house. They were very happy. Unfortunately for me, that was expressed by braying like donkeys and squeals of glee. Much better than yelling in anger or pain but still makes it hard to sleep.
12:45 a.m. The boys are still laughing and talking. One thing about Samoans, they can laugh for hours. Drunk or sober. In tonight’s case I believe at least the older boys mirth was partially alcohol induced. Samoans don’t just chuckle, they go for full on belly laughs. And most have a similar laugh. Women have a certain laugh that you can recognize a mile away (or at least a couple hundred yards) and the men have a male version. Good for them for letting it all out and enjoying living the moment. I just wish they could do it a bit further away from my bed.
1:15’ish a.m. I doze back off.
2:35 a.m. War breaks out between the pigs and dogs that sleep on either side of my fale. I believe the dogs won the skirmish, since I heard a lot of piggy squealing as they headed to the back of the compound.
4:16 a.m. Dear God, there’s something on me, get it off, get it off, get it off! I felt something slide across my face and leaped out of bed. No mean feat for a woman of my size and age. As I stood there, breathless and confused, heart pounding, I realized a massive storm had blown in. The wind had blown the curtain across my face. Ok, back under the sheet. The wind kept blowing the curtain and a mist of rain onto me. I lay there, listening to the thunder and watching the strobe-like effect of the lightening through the blowing curtain.
4:42 a.m. A brilliant flash of light inside my fale and the smell of ozone. Lightening must have hit the tree over my fale. Electricity is out but my computer escaped unscathed. After unplugging everything to make sure nothing is on fire, I crawl back under the sheet, scratching bug bites and wiping rain off my face.
5:00 a.m. I’m waiting for the church bells. They don’t happen. I fall back to sleep.
5:30 a.m. Brother’s alarm goes off. He hits snooze. Six times. I counted. I’d like to meet the sick individual who researched the most annoying sound possible to use to yank people out of a perfectl y nice dream. My brother didn’t get up for another two hours, by the way.
5:40 a.m. Pig and dog war erupts again. This time the pigs are battling some really stupid 6 month old puppies who think their barking is going to scare a 300 pound boar. Pigs are still at my fale. Puppies are running back to their house, barking all the way.
6:20 a.m. Ah, the sound of morning in Samoa. Roosters, birds chirping and the family stereo playing full blast. Another Saturday morning in paradise.
6:35 a.m. Clearly it’s time to feed the pigs. They’re squealing and my neighbor is standing inside the front fale yelling for his son to get up. He sleeps in the fale next to mine. He just yells his name. Over and over.
6:40 a.m. I’m up. The rain has eased a bit. There’s music now from both houses.
7:55 a.m. My neighbor finally came back to the fale to wake up the son to feed the pigs. Now, instead of yelling from the front house, he’s standing 15 feet away from my fale, just outside where is son is sleeping. Instead of just yelling his name, he alternates with “sole” (dude). I just heard a teen age grunt. Maybe the yelling will stop. Please, make the squealing of the pigs stop, Clarice.