My husband and I watched the sun dip into the pink sea. We smiled. It was our first night in the villa, our Caribbean dream in Montserrat was about to be realized, and neither of us could get to sleep due to the excitement of finally being in our new home – a home that had taken two years to create. The sounds of the tree frogs lulled us, along with the distant waves on shore. The faint scent of Frangipani was carried to us on the warm breeze. We were embalmed in serenity and then… a rooster crowed.
No, to say it simply crowed will not do. That’s not what it was. It was the sounds of a cartoon cockerel the size of a full-grown man. Think: Foghorn Leghorn being strangled whilst attempting to scream at us directly below our window. He would not be ignored.
My husband and I lay next to one another when the rooster paused for a moment, rounding the corner of the house, both of us thinking the fowl was gone. Oh, but no. No, no, no, no, no. He was simply searching for his audience, the hens, and a back-up chorus of competitive singers (a rap competition, if you will). Then he was right back where he started, outside our window at 4am.
The next day we were snippy with one another, but figured the rooster surely wouldn’t return. It had to be an isolated incident of island irritation. But of course he did. And the next day, and the day after that. By the fourth morning, I’m not exaggerating to say I was literally crying out of frustration. I even told my family that if we couldn’t’ get rid of this creature of cacophony, then we were just going to have to move back to New Zealand. This way of life with this monster was untenable. Ear plugs were purchased and used to no avail, windows were tightened to sweltering conditions, and small rocks were thrown in the moonlight. But alas, nothing changed.
We shared our story, gathered sage knowledge from expats and locals alike, and formulated a plan. We couldn’t use poison, for risk of hurting other animals (although during the time of the full moon when the roosters started, I’m not going to say I wouldn’t have been above it). I was a true Hitchcockian villain at that point, capable of murder in the most fowl. (I apologize – that was a poultry attempt at humour.) We set a trap – a catch and release cage. Each day brought a new chicken until the roosters started investigating. We set them off into the Wild West with a warning never to cast a shadow across our door again.
So… are they all gone? Did we eradicate the problem?
Doubtful. We like to think there are less of them. But the real trick was getting into the swing of things on this rock, not just sitting in our home getting all wound up about it. It came in enjoying the island life to the fullest: walks and swims and rum punches and sunsets and yes – growing accustomed to those distant calls of those feathered rodents yet still managing to get a deep sleep after all.
Sometimes it takes a hard island lesson to fully realize that the island won’t change, that it is we who must do the changing. Ah, the serenity of giving up.
My husband works at sea, but he’s not a sailor per se. He once asked the wise Captain of the ship, “Will the sea be rough?”
The Captain’s reply: “Who cares!”
And really, that’s it, isn’t it? Why fight it? Just sit back, relax, enjoy the island ride… and maybe order an extra glass of wine if you need help as you adjust to all the island’s crowing.
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