Friday, November 28, 2014

Ancient Chamorro Cure for Sea-Sickness

I haven't posted much for the past week because I have been rushing to finish up my novel this month for ChaNoWriMo or Chamorro Novel Writing Month. The goal is to reach 50,000 words by the end of November. It is almost the end of November and with two days to go I am at 45,000 words. I should be able to make it this weekend but it has been a long slog. 

For three years I have worked on the same story tentatively titled "The Legend of the Chamurai." In it a warrior makahna or wizard during the ancient times has a vision where she witnesses the end of the Chamorro people. In order to prevent that end from taking place all sorts of giant mythical creatures and samurai and Spanish soldiers get mixed in. The first 50,000 words of this story were very focused, establishing the world of ancient Chamorros, the types of powers and spells they might have, the lore and the cultural knowledge that guided them at that time. The next 50,000 words built on this while trying to establish three basic story arcs. The third 50,000 words, which I am working on finishing right now has wrapped up one story arc and will be building another. 

The story arc I am currently working on follows three chosen individuals, Ganao, Lulao and Goflinan as they sail up the Marianas chain in order to complete a challenge on each island. Whether or not they can complete each challenge will determine whether or not they can unite the villages of Guam against the dangerous threat that is coming. It has been a strange journey writing this story. Guaha na biahi Guiya lamo'na. There are times when it is in charge. The characters or the scenes for some reason push in directions I didn't intend.

Here is a part of that story arc, when the three chosen ones, a healer, a navigator and a warrior are sailing north from Tumon to Rota. This scenes references an "ancient Chamorro remedy for sea sickness" which you probably shouldn't try yourself unless you are that desperate. Para hamyo ni tumaitaitai este, this is not a real cure for binilachu gi tasi, try it at your own risk.


"The Greatest Game"

The trip to the next island north, Luta did not take long. It was short, but an ideal chance for Goflinan to find her sea breath. Having never sailed upon the open ocean before, the first few hours were miserable. She had brought with her a set of roots meant for the illness women felt with pregnancy, but it did little to stop the pounding, spinning pressure in her head.

Lulao could offer little advice. He had only been on a few voyages and was hardly a master navigator. Ganao knew several remedies that he had learned from his master, but did not feel comfortable sharing them. Goflinan had become insistent, not understanding the ways of this strange kinachang boy. She begged him to please help her, she could not imagine a year of being like this. Ganao, cocked his head to the side and said, “alright, if you insist.”

He came up close to her, closer than she ever thought he would or was even capable of. He stared into her eyes. She felt a spark as their eyes locked. Behind the water over his eyes there was a hidden depth. She knew it.

Ganao slapped her on the side of the head, knocking her down to the floor of the canoe. She felt like something, some important bone had been knocked loose in her head. She imagined her brain to be a collection of broken bones shaking about in a spinning pot. She heard Lulao shout above her and Ganao say in the most irritatingly detached way possible, that she asked him to do it to her.  

As she listened to them argue, she realized that it had worked. Whatever he had knocked loose in her head, it had fixed her. She was still a little shaky, but nothing like before.

“Wait” she cried out, hoping to intervene before the two came to blows. “Ganao, I appreciate what you did, I feel much better.”

Ganao smiled, beaming with pride to Lulao. “But I wish you had warned me that you were going to hit me so hard.”

Ganao apologized, “I felt the same thing when my master hit me so. He told me that it only works if you are not prepared for it. I am sorry.”

She smiled back at him. Even Lulao couldn’t help but smile.

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