The Mourners From Hell

Looking forward to my Savai’ian cycling adventure.

The wailing baby has been joined by wailing uncles, aunts, and grandparents, apparently all here for an elderly relative’s funeral. They mourn hellishly below our window, and we’ve not slept properly for several nights.

They seem to be glad rather than sorrowful. Their cackling and whooping are infuriating enough, like a crackle of cockatoos attacking a screech-owl.  Then they burst into a tsunami of hymn singing, off key, and accompanied by a clank of bottles.  Followed by more whooping and cackling, this time the screech-owl turning on the cockatoos. The noise becomes louder by the hour – nine o’clock, ten o’clock, eleven o’clock, midnight. We close the windows to shut them out. The room grows hot, and we can still hear them. We turn on our pillows and curse like crows. If we had a shotgun, we’d be tempted to use it. Both of us have big days tomorrow. Kate is leading a professional development session at her school, as well as giving me a lift to the ferry. And I am setting off on a cycling tour of Savai’i, the Big Island.

My bags are all packed. I have deterrents against aggressive dogs: a stick, small stones, and a whistle ready too. And my accommodation, at strategically placed fales, thirty-five kilometres apart, is booked. No great distance in New Zealand terms, but far more here in the heat.

Our noisy neighbours below.

Overall, today has not been an auspicious day. Earlier as we’d walked up the peninsula, a strong easterly ripped off my cap and dashed it underneath the wheels of a bellowing ‘Kingdom Come’ bus. Earlier still, I’d discovered a severed fingernail disguised as a fruit skin in my Berry Good smoothie at the not so sweet little cafe below us. And now, at two in the morning, tortuous sounds resonate from next door, hoots and shouts and dirty laughs that stab our sleep like an endless mass.

If we were at home, we’d ask them to turn it down and think about calling the police. Noise of this endurance – in the open air, in the wee hours – would constitute a public nuisance. But we’re not at home. We’re in Samoa where people love to make noise.

Sometime after two, their tunes fade away. We fade too, almost as weary as the dead person they are commemorating.

Not the best start to a new day; or the beginning of a great cycling adventure.



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