Nic and I were standing in a yard in the front of a house in rural Thailand when Dietmar, the homeowner, causally mentioned the potential need for a machete for snake slaying during his absence. As my eyebrows raised and Nic stepped closer to look at the machete, I silently reminded myself to never walk in the grassy yard without shoes.
Like our previous house sitting experience, we were looking after two dogs and a home while the homeowners were on vacation but, unlike our last one, this home came equipped with a machete AND a snake catcher, which is a long pole with a little lasso at the end. In addition to those helpful tools, there was also a handy-dandy book titled, Snakes of Thailand on the bookshelf. For a book with that title, it was uncomfortably thick.
We were informed that we may need both tools in the event that we open the electrical box, which was filled with snakes the last time it was opened. I silently reminded myself not to mention this to my parents the next time I talk to them and decided that any snake wrangling would fall in Nic’s department.
Luckily, Nic only had to bust out the machete once during our stay for a thin snake that the dogs chased away before we could even get to it.
It turns out that snakes were the least of our concerns during our two-week stay.
There was that time when the water stopped working. And then the time when Shanti, the white dog, returned from an adventure in the nearby shrimp farms with blood dripping from her sliced paw pad. While we cleaned and treated Shanti’s paw, a water pipe busted in the back of the property . A few days later, a clamp holding the pool filtering system together broke open and water flooded the pool house. Then, the pool turned cloudy since the filtering system wasn’t working.
And then we remembered that we were in rural Thailand. There aren’t any veterinarians or pool stores or Home Depots or even grocery stores, but there is a family-run clothes washing service where your clean clothes are returned to you with a giant bag of mangoes.
With clean clothes on and bellies full of fresh mangoes, we slowly figured it out.
Sometimes, it was tricky. For instance, one day a stranger showed up with a binder and asked us something in Thai. We looked at the binder. We looked at him. We smiled. There were some numbers on paper. With a little help from the homeowner’s local friend, we eventually understood what was happening. Another issue with water!
There were many surprises – some bad and some good. In the grand scheme of life, the bad wasn’t bad at all. A good friend of mine said that you have to experience unpleasant moments to really appreciate the pleasant ones. We certainly appreciated the good ones – cruising on scooters through the back roads of the area, hiking in forests of monkeys to lookout point, touring temples and making new friends. What a great experience (albeit a hot one!) – machetes, snakes and water pumps and all!