Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Waiting for the Monkeys to Come

I am in the south of Thailand, although not the deep South of bombs and arson, let me assure those who might care. I am however, surrounded by coconut palms and I was told by the owner of the property that I am caretaker of for a couple of weeks that one of these days the monkeys would come.

Suddenly I envisioned a band of simian marauders charging down from the limestone cliffs that rise against the inland horizon, beseiging the dogs and me for days as we holed up inside our beach cottage. What, I wondered, would bring them to us and even more important what would make them go?

As I pondered this and tried not to whimper, my informant went on to talk about the hurling of coconuts to the earth below and all at once I remembered stories about the coconut-picking monkeys of Samui, which is only 50 miles or so away from where I am now. "Were these monkeys," I asked with barely disguised hope in my voice, "brought to us by a human? Was there a reason for them to be here and would somebody eventually take them away?"

All of these things are true and these are fully-employed monkeys that will come to scale the palms that tower above the little house that shelters me and that clatter in the breeze that comes in from the Gulf of Thailand. There are at least twenty of them, each one laden with coconuts that I think about with a fair amount of trepidation each time I walk down to the beach. I wonder as I safely negotiate the path that winds beneath these potentially lethal missiles when the monkeys will come, how many there will be, and how long it will take them to make the palm trees safe again. These are questions I never have to consider in Bangkok.

One of these mornings, probably before I am quite ready to face the public, a truck will drive up, a man whom I will marginally understand will speak to me in rapid-fire Thai and I will have a few minutes to put the Alpha dog in the studio near the house. He usually wants to go there, but this time he will have to be dragged into shelter on a leash--and he's a big guy so this may be difficult.

The drama of rural living--gangs of monkeys meet the Hound of the Thai Baskervilles. I wistfully think of the train that would take me back to my former life of the Skytrain, the Underground, fully stocked bookstores, and floors that are swept clean by someone who is not me. Only fourteen more days--and only after the monkeys come...

(Colin and Jessi, if you read any of these posts, remember I'm a writer and will exaggerate anything for a good story. I'll be here when you return, as promised...)


Kim said...

Have they arrived yet? Be careful. I've had my sunglasses and earrings stolen by monkeys in Bali ... right off my body!!

Janet Brown said...

Not here yet--and I will certainly be careful! Speaking of Bali, there's a big SE Asian writer's conference in Ubud the first week of October--think aw would send us???