Quiet country life

If someone tells you life in the countryside is quiet they’ve probably never lived there.


A minor house flood, a snake in the kitchen, washed away roads, an AWOL dog, a hunt in the dark for a missing phone – and its only Thursday. And that’s before we get to work on the land where corn, coconut trees and peanuts have been planted and cassava (or yuka plant) harvested, all while hosting visiting friends.


It’s been eventful.


A quiet country road.


In truth, before a year ago I’d most likely have agreed with the opening comment, but after we’ve lived here for a year we know there is a never ending stream of jobs to do, and almost anything can happen unexpectedly to throw you off any routine you try to establish.


Rain isn’t unexpected during these months but where last year storms skirted around us on almost a daily basis we are now getting the full brunt of them. The biggest issues with a storm this week was direction and speed. It came directly from the south, which is unusual, and a whipping, thrashing wind brought rain in horizontally. This meant our usually sheltered doors and windows were subject to a full-frontal attack. We managed to get everything closed almost in time, but our doors are not sealed and water began to find it’s way through the gaps. Before we could catch breathe an elongated puddle was forming on the living room side of the double doors, and water collection began.


Of course, while you are busy collecting water in one place you also have to keep an eye on other potential leakage areas, and other rooms started taking in water.


Rain never had a chance to settle the wind was so strong.


All in all no big damage done, and adding some rubber to the bottom of the doors should act as a stopper that can prevent future floods.


We’d just about finished clearing that when the wisp of a flicked tail was spotted by one of our friends.


Snake! was the cry, and that’s not something you ignore.


For the next three hours we searched. For a long time we couldn’t see one – it was spotted under the kitchen units and the only way out was to come out in the open, so we guessed it hadn’t moved far. But we couldn’t see it.


A snake. … somewhere


And then a flash. As I was looking under the washing machine it glided past. First the tongue, then the eye, then about 3 feet of body. Spotting it is one thing, catching it is another.


We moved everything we could – fridge, washing machine, pipes, units. We never did find it. If you manage to visit, please keep an eye out for it. I expect it’s long gone.


I guess the snake got in while doors and windows were being closed, but if the dog was around I suspect the snake would have got nowhere near the house.


He’s been AWOL since Monday. He’s not missing – I’ve seen him twice and we hear him often (well, we think it’s his bark). The female dogs are in season and he has had a ‘thing’ going with a little white dog that lives nearby. He’s spending his time following her around and fending off other suitors, so we expect he’ll return when her season finishes, when he becomes extremely hungry, or when he’s very injured.


It's not ideal but he was a free spirit before he came to us and he may be returning to that state. The problem is we miss him. Walking in the morning just isn’t the same, and when a returned from Bangkok he wasn’t there to greet me.


I’ve seen him twice, and both times I’ve been completely ignored as he protects the love of his life. It was hard at that point to realise that love was no longer us ;)



There she is. The white dog with her protector.


The bowl waits for his return


Hopefully he’ll come back to us in the next few days, and I’m 80% sure he will. But with each passing day doubt begins to creep in.


There’s been lots of work around the farm during this time too, and we harvested 5 rai of cassava. Our profit in this venture has been affected in the same way as everything else in the world these days – rising costs. Between labour and materials, including fertilizer and tractors, costs have pretty much doubled. That had a big impact on how much we made.


Five rai is about 8000 m2, and that’s just our land. Aunties 8 rai was also harvested at the same time so it’s been busy with family and farm hands from the village. Working 8-9 hours in the hot beating sun, lifting a root vegetable and clearing the land. It’s not easy, and the workers deserve more than they get paid. But we pay market rates, and we get market rates when we sell.


At the end of each day there’s usually some rice wine or whisky for the guys, and card games for the girls. It’s one of these games that led to the search for a phone in the dark.


There are no streetlights here – once it’s dark, it’s very dark. If the moon is out it shines brightly, but without it you feel blind.


At about 8pm last night the call for help came out – have you seen my phone, she said. I called here number expecting to hear the familiar tone, but got silence. Immediately I knew what was coming, and it wasn’t welcome.

“Grab the torch, we’re going outside”


“Put boots on to go through the long grass”


“Careful of any snakes”


Great.


We made our way to where the card game had been played and began the search.


I called again - it was engaged. Has someone taken it? Did it run out of battery? Would anyone here really take it?


Whatever the case, we didn’t find the phone. We headed home.


“Call my phone again”, she said as she walked towards her mum’s house. I was passing our house and called the number. Then I heard it. A noise. Faintly, from our bedroom. Really? Is that where it’s been all the time?

Yes it was. I moved closer and it was. There, in the bedroom, half an hour after I’d had to go and find wellies, struggle to put them on with bare feet, made my way through the garden, the long grass (staying alert for snakes), and the freshly ploughed field, looking for the phone and it had been in the house all along.


It’s been one of those weeks.



The sky has been quite amazing all week.


This tree was dead straight before the storm. It’s not the only one that’s been pushed over, but it’s the biggest.


A huntsman spider with her eggs.


A friend visiting from the US - check out Pomelo restaurant if you are in New Orleans and want some Thai food


The card school. Join with care.


Another visiting friend, climbing down the door.













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