“The breadfruit does not come like it did before. Before there were four, five times for breadfruit during the year. Each a different kind of breadfruit. Maybe only one month in the year no breadfruit.”
Nena looked out wistfully towards the now vine covered hills .
“Now no breadfruit, not like before,” pausing in thought before continuing, “No one took care of the trees.”
Two days later I am alone in Mesen, surrounded by a green sea of Merremia peltata vines held up by primarily by Cheilocostus speciosus, a useless wild ginger relative. Merremia lays like a tarp covering everything in the valley. There are tall structures under the tarp, perhaps a coconut over there, maybe a breadfruit tree there. The carpet of vines extends down the valley and out towards the bogs. As far as I can see there is only Merremia.
Underneath the choking tarp the trees are weak and under attack by termites and opportunistic diseases. A single remnant lime tree bears a single lime fruit, a last effort to reproduce under the heavy mantle of vines.
The land is sick.
In the homes down along the oceanside road pots of Oryza sativa cover counters. The residents consume a short grained starchy variety of Oryza, a variety that only briefly satiates one and then one is quickly hungry again. The Oryza spikes blood sugar levels. Their bodies respond by spiking insulin levels, but they quickly develop insulin resistant autoimmune diseases.
The people are sick.
Both the land and the people are dying.
I look out at the sea of vines and tangled thickets, touch stone, pick up my machete, and start swinging. I will lose this battle. As surely as the residents have lost the culture of the land and are now are losing their lives, I too will not prevail.