Sunday, June 07, 2009

Usually our tiny, obscure village is pretty quiet and nondescript.

Villagers lounge about, wash clothes by hand, visit neighbors, swim at the local river bridge, listen to their caged red whiskered Bulbuls, play takraw, dote after their babies, or snack on locally prepared morsels sold roadside.

Occasionally however, we get some real form of excitement around here that brings people out of the woodwork.

Very recently, that was the case when Mam was driving by on her motorcycle and saw a small crowd of villagers standing about, hunched over something near the road. She stopped to investigate and was horrified (she doesn’t like snakes) to see the largest snake she’d ever witnessed in the flesh.

She came zipping home shouting, “Where’s the camera?” Adding, “You have to come see this!” We grabbed the camera and headed down the road to Teem’s house, the woman who’s father died last summer.

“My son found it.” Teem said, pointing to a wet area near their outhouse where her son had discovered the snake, which appeared to be after their chickens. Within minutes, the area was crawling with villagers, many of them suddenly becoming ‘snake experts,’ giving advice on what to do and how to handle this monstrosity.

I watched the scene unfold as one brave soul approached the snake, which I identified as most likely a reticulated python (Although I’m certainly not an authority on snakes but can Google at blinding speed) and lassoed the snake with a blue electrical wire. My guess was the snake would have stretched out to be at least 15 feet (4.5 meters) long, most likely a conservative estimate.

The villagers drug the snake out to the empty lot across from Teem’s house, an area where ironically, several snakes including large poisonous cobras, had been found in the past.

After the snake was bound by the cord, somebody in the small mob suggested they kill it and eat it, which is precisely what they did, although I didn’t stick around for the gruesome details. They all seemed very upbeat, and Mam said they were proud that they had successfully captured it and had stated, “That’s the end of the killer snake!”

At least until I opened my big mouth and exclaimed, “Where there’s one snake, there’s more!” Seemingly bursting their happy little bubble.

I had to admit that although I’d seen snakes this large and larger before, I’d never seen one in the wild and was a bit unnerved by the fact a fifteen foot python was roaming around in our village. This snake could easily kill a small child, so I suppose that fact alone could justify the killing, although I wish they would have given it to the authorities, as perhaps a beautiful snake like this could have found a place at the Bangkok Snake Farm, or in a zoo somewhere in the country.


Today is the ninth straight day that I’ve been free of symptoms of Chikungunya fever.

I was a bit worried, as some people in our village have reported that the virus has been lingering for up to three or more months.  Luckily, that isn’t the case with me.  Mam, however, says she still has some ankle pain from time to time, but it’s not something that is incapacitating, just annoying.

Alas, all is not rosy in Jeeem’s life. 

Over the past two weeks I’ve missed a total of three days of work due to severe stomach cramps.  Last week I began passing coffee ground material (old blood) and shortly thereafter the stomach cramps started. The first day I didn’t go to the clinic, I just stayed at home and in bed.  But, the second day the cramps worsened and I was no longer passing old blood, but instead this yellow, watery liquid with a yellow mucous substance. (Yummy huh?)

I broke down and went to see the doctor, mainly due to my school requiring a doctor’s slip if an employee misses two or more days of work.  But, I was glad I did since he told me the pills I had been taking for the Chikungunya virus quite literally ate a hole in my stomach, causing the bleeding and then what compounded the whole shebang was Mam’s trip to Ban Khuag Niang, our adjoining village, to purchase some locally prepared delicacy which I ended up sampling.

The food was obviously tainted, which is a relatively common occurrence here in Thailand, and my stomach ulcer became infected with bacteria.  Not a good scenario, but I’m better now after having to take about a gazillion pills before and after every meal.

At last count, according to the Bangkok Post newspaper, it is reported that well over 32,000 people have been infected with the Chikungunya virus here in southern Thailand.

It is a terrible malady indeed.

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