Some tsunami stories are running wild.
Did you know that there’s a monster at Aleipata?. Or so they tell me. With hushed voices and huge gestures to emphasize how big it is, how fast it runs, how frightening it looks. Apparently, it’s a creature that used to live in a cave on the beach. ( don’t ask me which beach as they can’t really say…) It was happily living in this cave, only venturing out at night to get food from the ocean. Big fish, definitely. Dolphins and sharks, probably. Whales, when it got really hungry. It didn’t used to bother anybody. But then the tsunami came and ruined it’s cave. And the fishing was disrupted. And all the machinery and the mess on the shore drove the monster up into the hills. Into the forests and bushes. The same forests and bushes where survivors are living in shacks and tents. And now the monster is hungry. It’s eating stray pigs and chickens now, definitely. And lost cows, probably. And people need to be careful, very careful. The monster is hungry and it doesn’t like living in the forest. It misses the ocean. What does it look like? Like a bear, they tell me. A huge, wild, hairy bear. Or a yeti/Abominable Snowman sounding creature. Only much bigger. They tell me I shouldn’t be going to the forest in Aleipata to do interviews. No way. Too dangerous. They ask me if I saw all the helicopters that would fly over there all the time after 29/09? They shake their heads knowledgeably – the helicopters were looking for the monster. Only the army didn’t want to tell people the truth, in case they got scared. Of the monster.
Did you know that there’s a crocodile at Aleipata? A woman calls the newspaper to report a strange creature in her village of Satitoa. She thinks it’s a crocodile. A week later, the Samoa Observer has a picture of a little, furry, weasel-like animal. Not a crocodile. A mongoose. Sighted at Satitoa. They think it came from Fiji on a shipping container. Villagers are warned to keep their children away from the mongoose. Special traps are brought from New Zealand. Hunting parties are organized. Success! The mongoose is caught. Everyone hopes it hitched a ride to Samoa as a lonely bachelorette, exiled from all friends and family. And not as a mongoose mum with lots of baby mongooses.
But the monster? Apparently it’s still out there. Somewhere.
Running wild like a wild tsunami story.