Tuesday, March 13, 2007

5000 tiny roommates

Last night as I was laying down straw and blankets to make a bed on the earthen foundation of the hut Ryan and I are building I noticed that the ground was moving. Glistening. Crawling. I flicked on my headlamp and saw…

Termites. A whole termite metropolis, broad avenues of the shiny ant-like bugs, creeping across the packed dirt floor where I sleep.

Decision time. The mosquito net was already rigged up and I didn’t feel like taking it down and finding another flat piece of ground where I could make another bed. This wasn’t the first time termites had made an appearance – in the morning we would usually find them under the sleeping mats. Sometimes they even chewed holes in the mats during the night. But there is a difference between waking up to termites and going to sleep with termites.

What if they crawled into my ears? What if they ate through my shirt while I used it as a pillow?

The moon had not yet risen and the stars were bright and clear. The nights get cold this time of year in the North of Thailand and it does not rain.

I kicked at the termites for a few minutes, scraping up a dust cloud. Then I lay down on the mat, wrapped myself up in a big soft blanket, piled two more wool blankets on top of that and lay down with the bugs in the dirt. Once in a while I could feel them crawling up my legs, but it wasn’t long until I fell asleep and dreamed.

In the morning I woke up to bird song as the sun rose red over hazy mountains. Most of the termites had gone away.

Today Ryan and I are putting in a concrete foundation to keep the termites from burrowing up through the adobe walls and getting at the wooden window frames.



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