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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Nocturnal Romps of Jungle Hard Labor

While the healing bit was taking off and while the visiting to all types of people both the common and lowly to the high government officials, the deal with the land on the island was also running full steam ahead and I could barely keep up with which day we would deal with which situation. For my whole series of anecdotes involve either these almost mystical healing visits OR the case for Nina's land in the jungle. And of course, both these revolved around the woman and personality of my friend, Nina.

It happened that one late afternoon we were all back on the island and near Nina's land that bordered the crazy Australian and the waterfall, just at what I thought was a happy glance at the boundaries again. When strange workmen began to show up with their heavy trucks, that could actually ford the stream, and they would drop down timber or other miscellaneous building materials in the middle of the rainforest floor. They crossed the Aussies yard to get to the area of the forest where we were at, and something told me that luckily he wasn't home for I don't think he'd like the idea of all these strangers buzzing about his land with building supplies and pickup trucks making tire ruts on what was near his yard.

The sun was already arching and making its downward slope towards the horizon, the mosquitoes were emerging at the approaching twilight, and there was talk that we were going to be moving some of these supplies around a creek and up a hill, but of this I was not very certain, again, all discussions being mostly in Thai. But stealing a quick glance at the departing pink colors of the afternoon sky, gave me hope in the fall of the evening and how any laborious efforts out in the jungle would certainly cease with the departure of the fireball of light in the sky. “Nope, given an hour, I won't be slapping mosquitoes anymore.” so I thought.

But OH...How wrong I was......

Nina kept saying something about working through the night in the jungle with the mosquitoes and she'd laugh. At this, I couldn't understand. Was she joking? Because I thought that she was going to hire some workers, some real builders to build a shelter out here. But apparently she was in a hurry and couldn't wait for the professionals, so WE were to do it.

It was explained to me a little bit by Nina, and a little bit by Jeorgen that in order for her to get an address on this land, she had to have a building on her land. This building had to have a roof and a bathroom, that was it. So any makeshift construction would do. She had to hurry and get an address soon for the Thai government could very well take the land if she hadn't an address on it, and seeing how this plot of land was right next to a National Park, she was intent on building through the night. I don't know why she wanted it the very next day. Perhaps, she knew something that I didn't.

To my dread, everyone present began to bustle and get to transporting these supplies to the very spot of the rainforest where this little hut was to be constructed. It's like they didn't see the point in waiting til the morning, when daylight would be a big provider for all of us, but everyone seemed ecstatic to be toiling through the night in the middle of the jungle.

Before we began any building, and right when dusk is filling the sky with gray haze, we discovered some new neighbors. They approached out of the twilight. A couple in their forties. It was as though they had just emerged from out of the jungle. The lady had just taken a shower and had a towel wrapped around her but this didn't stop them from a hearty salutation. She beamed her smile very big. They lived up the hill in a little shack as well and when we first saw them I thought they would object to such toil and effort in their quiet neck of the woods. It turns out this couple were not Thai, but Burmese.
Nina would often refer to them as the mountain people. At first, I thought it was referring to the slight inclination of a hill that they lived on that lead up to a nearby mountain, but now I figure that it was that they were from the mountains of Burma and were supposedly hearty, rustic folk. At which they proved over and over again. I don't know what Nina said to them. I would suppose that she had never met them nor had any connection to them, they were just living in the jungle near her land, but Nina has this exceptional power at drawing people together to do something that they ordinarily wouldn't do. Again, I was proof of this.

These Burmese mountain folk seemed to be delighted to help out with the construction of the shack. It was almost as though they were only in the forest waiting for someone to ask them to build a shack in the middle of the night, for they took up the enterprise with enthusiasm and gusto that made me annoyed in that nobody, not even these Mountain Folk, saw the futility of building in the dark when we weren't professionals.
They immediately ran to their hut and came back decked from head to toe in work clothes, the long sleeves and everything to protect themselves from the ravaging mosquitoes that were getting to be a nuisance. They both looked like ecstatic kids at Christmas but they had hacksaws and various other tools in their hands instead of toys.

We were told to clear a part of the land. And I thought that okay soon, we will be out of here. Because I couldn't see what land exactly was to be clear in the dark of the forest. I had Nina's Ipad notebook as the only scant source of light, glowing among the leafs and nocturnal flora. Mosquitoes were attacking us and we were even cutting down little trees and pulling up vines. It was all making an awful lot of noise out in the night. If anybody heard us they probably thought an elephant was tromping about the place. I had set my mind that it was way too dark to build anything and once we finished clearing the building space, we would be out of here. But again, to my vexation and surprise as soon as we were done clearing the space, We began to haul large planks of wood across a creek. “What are we doing?!” I thought. “Why can't we just wait til daylight?” But on and on we worked liked ants thriving on such unrelenting industry. Mountain Lady was the most enthusiastic worker. She especially liked cutting down trees with some bizarre relish. And laughing at me as I held the tiny flashlight that I don't think she even needed.

And then they began to dig holes in the ground to place these large planks in. I felt absurd. I mean, I wasn't doing anything, but holding the lights. Which were now the ipad, and two little flashlights. Jeorgen was doing the same. And this gave me consolidation for Jeorgen is an engineer and if that's all he felt comfortable doing, than I felt rest assured it was okay for me to be standing there holding a light for the hardcore Mountain Lady. The truth of the matter was that I had no idea how to build a house. And to even guess at how to do so would be disastrous. But the light holding was a small matter, in fact, I felt that there wasn't any point for me being there. And I was only holding the light because there was nothing left for me to do. So as soon, as the next phase of the building occurred, the latching of the side wooden planks, I will steal away and go to bed. Sorry. I hated to abandon them, but I didn't have a clue as to what I was doing or really what they wanted done. For if you moved anything, they would come over and move it in a different direction. Everything was in Thai and Jeorgen and I had no concept of what their overall vision was.

So I sort of slipped out of the jungle that night. I didn't have a light with me, having the good nature to leave it behind,  but I walked past the Aussie's house that loomed cavern-like in the darkness, and recalled him talking about his pitbull and I was glad that they were all gone on some long trip, pitbull included.

When I got to the stream that we had to ford, I just kicked off my shoes and waded straight through the waters to the other side trying to guess where my next step would be by my toes slipping against the river stones. No lights twinkling in the rippling wake of the water for there was few lights to actual twinkle. I just had to guess. I got to the other side and walked back to the house we were all staying at. I slept relatively well that night. My conscience didn't bother me too bad about ducking out of that work. Except for the blasted neighbor's dog that was once again barking about.

The next morning, my dutiful subconscious woke me up very early. And I went to investigate their building progress. But of course, first a morning coffee and breakfast.

When I arrived back at the area, they had constructed the wooden framework to not a small shelter. It was substantially spacious by Thai standards, though they had only tied on these with little plastic ties. They were busy in the morning glow climbing on top of these boards.  I found out that they had likewise retired for the evening soon after I had left the night before to the Mountain Folk's shack and had all slept there for the night.

And the dawn of this day, we began to move tin siding and to try to construct a type of roof. One piece almost fell off and beheaded me. Those things are sharp. Well, I say, “we” but for the most part I was just holding up tin sheets of metal to make a wall. However, something occurred which I wasn't present to see, which was about to be a complication in the building. Someone had reported our activity and little did I know that building anything in the jungle was breaking the law. We were involved in illegal activity the night before. I don't why this was a law. So Nina was taken, in a sense, to what we call “downtown”. But I had left the construction that day by then, so I wasn't present to see this. Of course, Nina being who she was, she ended up befriending the high official and the people in power who took her in. So they fed her a sumptuous feast and she laughed and joked with them, and I'd imagine probably performed her famed acupressure. And she was released and told to finish the building as soon as she could. She joked about this encounter when I saw her again. But still it made us wonder WHO it was that had reported the illegal activity of building in the jungle at night?

More to come....


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