In typical Sherlockian fashion, Kate lounged on the bed, lavalava wrapped with air-con remote in hand, and came out with a pearler.
“You know one thing about Samoa?” She half-smiled. “Nobody cares what you wear. You can wear the same thing for days and nobody notices. Here, sniff!”
She offered me her armpit, no doubt strongly redolent of sweat. Politely, I declined, aware that my own armpit smelt as bad. We’d both showered in the morning, but the thirty degree heat and ninety-five percent humidity had extracted their dues.
Once again, Kate had exercised her powers of deduction and made a startling discovery about paradise.
It’s hot. People sweat. And sweat smells.
Well, not quite everyone sweats. Not the helpful staff who sell phones in the Blue Sky shop. Nor the ‘no-bank-account here’ lady who works at the branch of ANZ opposite. Nor friendly Madame Ramotsee-Samoan lady with glasses in Tourist Information who obligingly photocopied Warren Jopling’s notes for a self-guided tour of Savai’i. No knock-out scents lurking in their pockets or moisture condensing in the folds of their clothes.
They all have air-conditioning.
The blue Toyota we’ve hired has air-con. And a registration plate to remind us of Brexit. R1066. That’s the year when Britain was last invaded and the Normans shot the king in the eye. Immigration rocketed and the invaders built the Tower of London, now a national symbol of British security. The Crown Jewels are housed there. The Yeomans parade there. And if the ravens ever leave, perhaps seeking seasonal work elsewhere in Europe, the kingdom will fall.
This morning Kate slept in. Probably a good idea since it was pissing down with rain. Clouds blotted out the sky and slow, heavy drops of water descended onto the roads, making them shiny and slippery. It was still warm though – so nobody was unhappy. The people who work in air-conditioned shops watched the vertical streaks running down their windows and tried to guess which ones would reach the bottom first. The people outside raised their hands above their heads, took deep breaths, and for a few hours at least, could sniff at their armpits without wincing.