Two mountain bikes lean against the next fale. Two girls sit at the table looking out to sea. Two beers, two coconut fish dinners, countless stories of riding together.
They tell us they are cycling around Savai’i. Anti-clockwise, from twenty-five past five to twenty to eight so far. On a map that means Salelologa to Lano to Manase to Vaisala to Satuiatua.
“No problems with dogs,” says the first. “Tame as tadpoles.”
“No punctures either,” says the second. “Tyres like tarmac.”
They introduce themselves as Pink and Red, but these are not their real names. Pink has a pink bike with yellow panniers, while Red a black bike with black panniers. Or is it the other way around?
Pink has her eyes trained on the buffet table, watching for dessert. She announces any new dish brought out as if it has just won Oscar for the most calories. Unlike a lot of cyclists, they don’t talk dirty – no Shimano gear ratios, no derailleur anecdotes or jokes about tyre pressure – but focus on the engines that ride the bikes, and on the fuels that keep the engines going.
“We ate pink coconut porridge at the last place,” says Pink. “Sweet and gooey with bits of banana in.”
“That got us up the first hill without pedalling,” says Red “The coconut jam on toast got us up the second.”
“And as for those lime and sugar pancakes.” Pink swoons.
The conversation salivates on. The juice from a slice of orange pawpaw that sticks to your hands. The nuts from a walnut tree at home, green, brown and wrinkled. The sheer pleasure of a chocolate fountain, three tiers of cascading liquid yumminess.
“We went to the Alofaaga blowholes,” says Kate, thinking of things that similarly project upwards. “They were awesome – mesmerising.”
So mesmerising we’d taken nearly fifty pictures between us, trying to catch the perfect eruption. Yet like watched saucepans, it was always the spout in someone else’s lens that blew. We swung our cameras left and right, then right and left, so many possible blowholes to choose from. Fortunately, the way the Pacific rollers juggernaut at the rocks, sooner or later we had to get lucky.
“They’re like geysers, aren’t they?” says Red. “Hiss and a roar, a jet of spray, then nothing for another half-an-hour.”
“The coastline’s worth it on its own,” says Kate with enthusiasm. “Big waves and black rocks. All just mesmerising. And there’s layer cake and almond slices at the cafe.”
“Really?” Pink looks excited. “They don’t have mince pies too?”