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  • An Ipao Summer
  • Peter R. Onedera (bio)

"Wake up, Cinto. Wake up." I sat up in bed. It was my cousin Lang who roused me. The sun was streaming into the bedroom that I shared with my teenage cousins Kiko' and Kal. I saw that their beds were already made up and both were gone.

"Etbetto and Adriano are out there in the yard feeding the turtle and coconut crabs that you caught. Hurry up. Eat breakfast because they're waiting for you," Lang said again.

I got up, went to the bathroom, brushed my teeth and made my way to the kitchen. Auntie Dede' was washing the morning's dishes but food was still on the table covered in mesh nets to keep the flies at bay.

"Good morning, son." Auntie Dede' was used to calling me that ever since I could remember. Lang, Kiko' and Kal were teenagers already, so I was her and Uncle Tinto's favorite nephew.

They insisted I stay with them every summer since I was eight years old. It had been three years that I'd spent those days of childhood with them. I celebrated my birthday in early June. I turned eleven and my family, aunts and uncles, and dozens of cousins turned up for my party that was at the beach, on the other side of Ipao.

I spent those summers at their Quonset hut. Ipao was a hamlet of few families scattered throughout the vast expanse of what once was a hidden piece of territory full of wild animals, flittering and chirping birds, butterflies, swarms of bees making honey high up in their hives of sprawling trees and a beach that was abundant of sea cucumbers, spiny corals, and colorful fish that came in at high tide and lingered in the shallows, often trapped when low tide came about but went back out to sea as soon as a change in tides came about. It was a place for adventure. My playmates and I always looked forward to a new day with a different agenda of exploration, fishing, catching hatchlings of any species, and building camps with boondock materials.

I sat down to eat. It was a typical CHamoru breakfast, pan-fried fresh eggs, fried rice, fina'denne', and a piece of fresh chicken that was in a small bowl of soup consisting of pumpkin tips, okra, and green onions.

"You'd better hurry, up. Your friends are out there feeding the haggan (turtle) and the ayuyu (coconut crab) that you caught yesterday, they've [End Page 96] eaten breakfast already, where are you going today with them?" My auntie managed to combine trains of thoughts and ending with a question.

"I don't know yet, Tiha."

I hurriedly ate, washed my plate and utensils in the sink, placed them on the dish rack and went back to the bedroom to fix the bed but I found that Lang had already done them. I found her in the living room sweeping. She was so routine with her daily household duties and I knew, too, that she'd soon wax the floor with Mahogany and skwee-jee the floor using the cut half of a coconut husk. The floor always shone and was slippery when wearing socks. I made my way to the front door when Auntie Dede's voice wafted from the kitchen. "Make sure you and the boys come home for lunch. They'll eat here with you, too."

"Okay, Tiha. I'll tell them." I found Etbetto and Adriano putting away the bucket of grated coconut on a nail, next to the outdoor shed that Kal built for the garden tools.

"Håfa, Cinto? You just got up? We've been up since before dawn. Adriano and I helped each other feed the pigs at our house." Etbetto said as his greeting.

My cousin Kiko' had already fed the pigs because I was spared from doing that chore. I often felt that I got away without chores as Uncle Tinto' and Auntie Dede' spoiled me rotten. My cousins did, too, not that I was lazy but at home my brother and sister made sure I did my share...

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