Monday, September 28, 2009

The Coconut Lady

The first time I visited my house, I was told that the stable next door was owned by the church and leased to a family who sells coconuts out of the empty lot in front. Every day of the week except Sunday, the Coconut Lady, as I affectionately call her, sits in the shade waiting for customers, who drive through the school compound past a small gate in the very back. Living next to a coconut wholesaler is a unique experience.

When I lived in Pasadena, I lived on the fourth floor of my apartment building, which was across the street from a Houston’s Steakhouse. This was a cruel setup. The smell of smoked ribs so mouthwatering, my wallet so unable to accommodate. In San Francisco we lived across the street from a burrito shop that made the SF Chronicle’s list of “Best meals in town for under $10.” I think all of us gained 15 pounds in the first 2 months.

As far as I can tell, the coconuts are not sold for human consumption. Most humans are not interested in coconuts by the 100-count. Also, many of the coconuts are sprouting small seedlings. Phil pointed this out. I’ve come to believe the coconuts are mostly sold as pig feed.

Apparently the people that used to sell the coconuts lived in my house. This explains the barrage of confused customers who knock on my door, on occasion, looking for the Coconut Lady. I apologize in broken Samoan and suggest that if they wait a couple minutes, the Coconut Lady will most likely return promptly.

The real joy of living next door is the sounds. A couple times a week, the delivery truck shows up with new coconuts—my neighbor Maengi tells me the coconuts are collected from the Malua coconut plantation. The oversized truck is filled to capacity with coconuts which are unloaded by hand.

This afternoon Cale asked, “Is that a bowling alley next door?”

It’s true. The coconuts are unloaded from the back of the truck to the front, and as the ones nearer to the cab are unloaded, the truck bed becomes a bowling lane for bowling ball after bowling ball. The coconut falling into the pile supplies the complementary sound of clattering pins.

The process of unloading the truck takes roughly 45 minutes, and I’ve grown so used to it, I barely hear it anymore. In fact, this afternoon I hadn’t noticed it until Cale pointed it out. Occasionally the truck comes just after dawn and I awake to the rumbling tropical bowling alley. It’s less than ideal, but there are worse noises to wake up to. I’ve been known to spring from bed to hurl rocks at impolite rooster, but I’ve never felt such animosity toward the Coconut Lady.

It helps that she’s friendly and always gives me a smile and seems genuinely pleased with the weak Samoan conversation I’m able to offer. And besides, moving to Samoa and living next door to the Coconut Lady seems far too poetic to warrant complaint.

I hope you’re being a good neighbor. Pictures below.

This small, hand-painted sign is the Coconut Lady's only advertisement that I'm aware of.


Koa laughing. Sara with her head in her hands.

Koa looking forlorn. Yet he was Saturday night's big winner.

1 comment:

Arseneault Family said...

LOVE "the coconut Lady", your neighbour...would love to hear more of her life, her story, her journey - an interesting juxtaposition to yours.