Speaking of local fauna.
Each time we browsed through the “Comments and Suggestions” book Jane had advised us to position strategically on our coffee table we noticed that almost every entry mentioned the local roosters.
People seemed to be obsessed with them.
While some were big fans of these strutting, highly vocal fowl (“they add local color and the crowing sound is so relaxing”), others considered them the poultry equivalent of the anti-Christ (“can’t they be stopped?”). For the latter group, we began leaving disposable earplugs in the medicine cabinet.
The first time we visited the island—the time I was deathly ill and fully expected to expire any second—the teeming rooster population worked overtime to make sure I didn’t get a wink of sleep all night long. Along with the baby goats next door, they succeeded nicely.
I had already encountered a robust, highly-vocal community of roosters when I lived in Key West in the early ‘90s. There the “rooster problem” was deemed so grave some city commissioners declared war on the island’s roosters. Naturally, within minutes a Rooster Rescue Team was formed to fight back. Those wacky Floridians.
In Vieques, no one seems to like (or hate) the roosters except tourists. The locals barely seem to notice them at all except when they’re participating in cock fights.
But let’s not go there.
Having spent part of my childhood on my grandparents’ farm, I’m not particularly fazed by chickens, even of the feral variety. Yes, I admit it’s highly annoying when they crow so loud they wake you up from a deep sleep in the middle of the night. But I’d rather be roused from my slumbers by a rooster than a garbage truck.
Call that provincial if you like.
Michael has a slightly less laissez-faire attitude toward our feathered friends. For starters, he thoroughly despises trespassers of any sort—don’t set foot on our property unless you’ve been invited. Even worse, he suspects the roosters of having collaborated with the island’s wild horses to eat our garden.
During our first couple of years in Vieques, Michael’s enmity toward the roosters escalated from mild irritation to a state of guerilla warfare. He bought a slingshot, which I didn’t consider a particularly inspired idea.
Our neighbors weren’t likely to enjoy the sight of Michael taking potshots at the local fauna.
But he was determined.
Luckily, every time he became agitated enough to strike, he couldn’t find his slingshot. This suited me fine. When he began leaving the slingshot on the balcony ledge to make sure he was prepared the next time an opportunity presented itself, I routinely tipped it over the edge into the garden or brought it inside and placed it somewhere he might accidentally have put it himself.
The occasional curse word ensued, but our neighborhood roosters remained safe.
I found myself coping with the situation through home décor. You’d be surprised how many rooster-themed decorative items there are out there. I found a handsome rooster poster and hung it in the kitchen.
We stumbled across a carved plaque of a rooster at a flea market in D.C. and bought it for the downstairs kitchenette.
A friend, picking up on the general theme, gave us a set of rooster-themed swizzle sticks.
My motto? If you can’t destroy your enemy, you can at least make fun of him through home accessories.