4 July 2008

Letter 2.27

I was presented a few days ago with an enormous bag of peanuts, so right now I'm stuffed full of nuts -- I've been eating them all morning -- and a bit lethargic. And -- soon now the lunch bell will ring -- I've been so stuffed on peanuts that at the past few regular meals I've been a bit off ma feed, paw.

An Indonesian monk arrives here a few weeks ago – young -- but left a few days ago. Seemed afraid of the life here, always carrying a tremendous club about with him to protect himself, he said, from snakes. (In the 2,5 years I've been here I've seen -- on the island -- only 3 or 4 poisonous snakes altogether -- I frequently see a 6 feet long non-poisonous and non-aggressive rat snake -- and I don't think anyone's ever been bitten by a snake here.) Very strange that Asians, who live so much closer to the jungle, are so much less able to adapt to it than Westerners.

Also a day or two ago someone dumped an unwanted and partly tamed monkey on the island (the island is a convenient dumping ground for the village's unwanted animals: cats and dogs are constantly being dumped; but so far as I know this is the first monkey) -- black faces with silver grey fur -- apparently still young – who accepts an occasional banana and occasionally allows himself to be handled, but is also a bit too wild and will probably be removed (most of the animals dumped here are dumped right back on the mainland, else we would be overrun with them; and this is a hermitage, not a menagerie) before it takes to bounding into the
kutis and breaking up the tile roofs.

Some nights I take the rowboat out into the lagoon and drift about for a few hours. Other nights I stay in my little park. Daytime, however, my park has become more of an arena: the mongoose sometimes catches one of the beautiful noisy white birds that are nesting hereabouts and drags its body I don't know how far up to the park where he putters about with it. Iguanas who happen along the path smell the body and come trundling after the scent, whirring their throats in a strange mechanical gurgle-growl, rolling from side to side slightly as they walk like some mechanical toy, their incredibly long blue forked tongue flicking in and out constantly. They have what appears to be a seam along the side of their hide and, altogether, seem to be contrivances rather than living beasts. But they follow the scent up past the kuti to the park, where there generally ensues a cold war of threat/counter-threat for possession of the field and the bird. Eventually, a second iguana may show up by which time the struggle will turn into a free-for-all. The park is strewn with loose feathers. I shall have to discourage the mongoose from bringing his lunches up here.

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