In the green hills high above Apia breathes a place of peace and birdsong. Somewhere to escape from the Zumba beat that shakes our appartment, from the baby who wails all night.
We leave the squeal of the city and drive up an enormous hill. At the tippety-top is our cloud-washed sanctuary: Dave Parker’s Eco Lodge.
It’s very very quiet. Mitsubishi heat-pump quiet. So quiet that the noise of keystrokes as I type this boom like kettle-drums in Kate’s ears.
‘God, that’s loud,’ she says as she tries to nap. Yet the sounds of the countryside accelerate. A bird repeatedly warbles the same chorus. The trees rustle conspiratorially in the breeze. I fear dawn tomorrow will be an apocalypse of trills, tweets and flapping wings.
So far we seem to be the only people staying here. A burly, laconic Samoan man greeted us when we arrived, made us fill in a registration card, then showed us to our room. Lucky number six. Spacious and comfortable for one night and the view from the balcony is eye-poppingly breathtaking. We can see an ocean of green, then an ocean of blue. The whole of Apia and the lagoon, as well as half the north coast and a sizeable chunk of the Pacific. If the Samoans ever fear sea invaders – an armada of war canoes and fishing boats from Tonga in the south – then this is the perfect vantage point from which to keep watch.
A tiny swimming pool on the corner of the property, five feet cloudy deep, with no steps, no ladder, no easy way of getting out. Kate inventively submerges a plastic chair to act as a temporary step. Otherwise we might get trapped in the pool, unable to pull ourselves out, forced to eat our dinner off floating plates, and forever watching dragonflies that skim and mate and dip. Ironically, we wouldn’t be able to wash either. A sign next the pool warns against using soap and shampoo.
Back in our room, where the colours deafen. Red door, blue curtains, green bedspread. White walls, yellow wardrobe, pink-pink-PINK soap.
“It’s so quiet,” says Kate. Then trumpets a gusset-blaster.
But it is quiet. Very very quiet. The sort of place where lesser sounds are elevated into heroes – and sometimes villains too. The drone of water in the distant river, the nibble-nibble of a bug boring into the wainscotting, even the clump-clump of ants marching to and fro on the windowsill. Later the buzz of mosquitos, the burr of giant moths, the scuttle-scuttle of an inch wide cockroach.
Yes, it’s going to be damn quiet tonight. We’ll hear every molecule stir in the night. We’ll be lucky to get any sleep at all.