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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Nightly Wanderings

The worst, most horrible, detestable thing about village life in Fiji and probably any village for that matter, could be summed up into one thorough category...or one object, one creature, of which in my travels, I keep running across over and over again. And it still hails me in a full-throttled cocky manner. What else? But that of a rooster. Or roosters plural. For with this loathsome poultry, the village I was staying at in Fiji, the village of Yavuna, had many. Now, mind you, if you do keep up with my lengthy scribblings, which I commend your patience and stalwartness for, you will remember that not long ago, on another island, Waiheke in New Zealand, I had the exquisite luck to make my bedding right where a lone rooster, a single poultron of exuberant noise and pride, launched his cuckoos into the early morning air. Well, that was nothing...This feathered vagrant numbered only one and at least with his exuberance, he kept it to only a few cocks at specific times in the mornings. Mainly 4:30 and 6:00.

But with this little boisterous colony of male-chickens in this Fijian village, the crowing times began at 4:30 and lasted incessantly until the sun was well up, say about 7:30. And there would be no stopping. The roosters knew no such thing as an intermission in their operas of the gray dawn. They were in steady yet belligerent competition with one another. There were several of these red-crested minstrels stationed throughout the village. Probably on each side. And one would crow, the others would sound off their reply in uproarious cry after one another. I swear they must've been carrying on full-scale conversations, but seeing how they uttered the same "cockadoodle-doo", I don't see what could be communicated here.

Some of these roosters hung in trees. The one closest to our hut sat perched up in a tree next to a little cliff that dropped to the river below. I only know this because after waking up the second morning, and after the turmoil of wrapping my pillow around my head and not being able to fall asleep again with the loud cries long before the sun was up, and unable to sustain the anger that I noticed surging in my sleepless veins, I ripped out of the mosquito netting, dropped down from my bunk bed, half hoping not to wake up the village family that was so kind at taking me in. And in a murderous march, I darted towards the village trail from where the nearest rooster sat proudly jeering in the darkness, and picked up a rock and in a fit of rage hurled the stone at the rooster. Such vehement abuse quelled the bird from his luxurious calls and sent him into a half-silent clucking. I could've cared less if I had sent that rooster off his branch to the river below and to death. It was only after my irate stone-pitching that I noticed the neighboring village hut across the way where a lady sat outside fully awake and probably taking notice to my violent deed. Oh well, maybe I was doing what she had always wanted to do. The rooster remained silent the rest of the morning. He was still alive just reticent. Thank God.

I remember going back to bed and seeing the lady of the house, a large, homely Fijian lady sprawled out in the middle of what would be their living room. For some strange reason they kept the overhead light on; they even had electricity to do so. A boy lay on the mat nearby. The woman looked like she had been TKO in the last round of fight that had taken place in her house. I recall shutting the hut door as quietly as I could, not to disturb anyone, observing how awkward their sleep habits were when she ripped one just as I was nearly stepping over her to get to the partition where my bunk bed lay. I shooked my head, half laughing to myself.

The morning before I took the more passive approach and decided to only extract myself form the sound of the roosters. So I went on an early morning jaunt. The village lay at the extremity of this one dirt road which lead to Nadi. However, the dirt path continued to lead further up into the mountains. So before the sun was visible, right when the stars were still winking their last flirtations to the darkened seas below them, I hastened out of the village careful of preserving the secrecy of my escapade. But I had no worries of that. Everyone else, all the villagers, were flung into the vicinities of unassailable sleep, completely oblivious to the roosters crowing. Familiarity is a deafening thing.

The moon was out. And I had the auspicious luck to make it to Fiji just in time for the full moon. So everything was enlivened with this moon-glistening effect that sets all of nature aglow into this phosphorent portrait. Here in these moments under such moonbeams, the color silver seems to be given breath and breathe life into the the magnificent objects underneath. From a rising in the land, the entire sky and land, is charged with these vitalized brushstrokes of silver coolness and hushed, timid radiance. The winds wafts and pulls the tops of trees as a cellist gently strokes the strings of his cello, and creates this truly remarkable spiritual timbre. Such is the silent music created on such moon-drunk nights. And such is my anticipation to go on walks with nothing but silence, nature, and the moon's steady vigilance of fresh solitude and silver dreams.

But the night is not long in its mystic spell, pretty soon the sun hauls himself above the ground, shadows dissapate, the stars all dwindle away, and the moon hides, everything becomes more actual. I thought that I would stay out away from this village and watch the sunrise pour like molten gold through the crevices of these tropical mountains, but it was taking way too blasted long for it to rise above them. My reflections drifted back to the village. "I bet they would think it the strangest thing, a person going off by himself into nature." I thought to myself. It occured to me how communal village life was. People don't wander off by themselves in such societies. No, it is very possibe that these people are living out a life that our ancestors were akin to. Not in a matter of lack of technology nor education. They have sufficient amount of these. But more in the way they saw themselves in their world. Their ideas on the self, the individual, and their community. I would suspect that the Fijian villager does not fret over the same isolation that our western society skulks along in. Yes, that unconscious prodding that is at the hearts of all of us. -That enstrangement that is so prevalent in our world. Estrangement from each other, from nature, from our very selves. Yes, man was never much interested in going off into the woods alone, climbing mountains, and reconnecting with nature until after the Industrial Revolution. The solace-seeking romantic is a recent invention. I thought, "How funny I must seem towards these people if they knew that I delighted in going off by myself." I don't know if it is in their natures to understand how sick of information, consumerism, and just all around data a person can be where going back into the remnants of something pristine and divine and unsubmerged with the choking ideologies of our lives. How beautiful it must be to live a life like these people do. Except for those damn roosters.

Later, I found out what a dangerous foray I was taking on my nightly saunterings, when sitting at an enormous kava-drinking ceremony, several of the young buck villagers asked me if we had alot of stray dogs in America that could be sent over. I asked him why. (Hoping he won't refer to any type of dish that I might have just eaten). When his reply intrigued me greatly, "We use them to hunt wild boar."
Out in the forest, it is a favorite pasttime of the men to get on horses and accompanied with a large pack of dogs go hunting these fierce hogs with nothing in regards to weaponry, but spears. Yes, spear-hunting wild boars! I really wanted to go. But you see, they are a bit lax in the enthusiasm of taking someone new and someone unaccostumed to this practice. If your horse throws you off, which it could do, not knowing very well its rider, then you are at extreme mercy of the boars. Of course you would have your spear. But someone not exactly a master at spearing anything...much less a wild, tusked creature who would like nothing more to do but slash you open with one of those tusks...you can see how bloody this could be and how reluctant the villagers would be at taking me on such a quest. The boar I found out roam at large the entire wilderness area and myself traveling away from the village is a risk at ending any nocturnal romp tragically, I being on foot and unarmed.

...still, still more to come....


Blogger thepriesthood said...

"red-crested minstrels"

LOL. have a time in Miami.

2:44 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Thanks. Hope you're not getting too wet walking that dog.

9:01 PM  

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