The kitchen’s been invaded.

I returned from Bangkok a couple of weeks ago on Friday morning, and haven’t knowingly eaten anything with milk or eggs since we finished our staff lunch that same afternoon, except for some egg yolk that contaminated some sliced vegetables that were given to me as leftovers. A plate of boiled eggs and fried tofu was also offered, but I declined it. While I can’t say that I’m ready to give up honey yet, the arguments against the consumption of honey are becoming more and more appealing. I drizzled some on my peanut butter bread yesterday morning, and threw away three slices of bread in the evening when I went for more and discovered that, at some point, ants had gotten inside the lid. I didn’t see any in the honey, but something didn’t taste quite right that morning.

Ants are everywhere (except, thankfully, for my bed, at least most of the time). They even come and harass me while I work or play at the computer, climbing onto the desk. I found them yesterday under my pots, and a few days ago they were all over the tiny shelf in the water closet where I keep my toiletries. When I try to prepare fruit (which has been my main sustenance, along with noodles last week and bread this week), I need to move the plate into the fridge in between fruits, and they nip my feet while I wash the dishes. Too often, I find them floating in my drinking water, though less often since I put plastic over the tap. The plastic bag was installed to keep an invading gecko from contaminating the tap. On account of the dangerous temple dogs that threatened me the first time I tried to walk to church alone, I’ve been afraid to venture more than a few feet from the gate, and the yard is very small, but that gecko is like a personal trainer that appears in about the same place almost every evening, sees to it that I get a good workout chasing it around the kitchen, and then seems to just vanish. It’s left me questioning whether it’s really there, or whether it’s a spirit come to harass me or a hallucination, but the ants (which apparently can’t all be killed by cornstarch and which eat gecko dung) were probably going after some gecko dung when they swarmed the bowl that I stacked my pots on (until yesterday evening, when I moved them).

Of course, I’m sure you know I don’t want to kill this gecko. I feel bad when I do hurt them. I grab the broom or a duster and try to chase them to the door or the window, but it doesn’t always work. I’ve managed to drive a few away, probably and unfortunately hurting at least a couple in the process, but this one is very tricky.

Mangos are in season. We have two or three mango trees which are drooping with mango. I think tomorrow I’ll ask about checking their ripeness. Mangos are also cheap at the market, and I’ve been enjoying the sweet yellow ones that have just enough tanginess and a texture that is reminiscent of flan. I’ve also tried sapodilla, and would like to stash the rest in the freezer. I can’t tell when it’s too ripe. The taste is like caramel, but also seems to have a hint of alcohol flavor, like vanilla flavoring or something, I think. I kind of like it. It’s something I might try one more time, perhaps with help in (or after researching) selection and preparation. The first try was the best. After that, it’s been somewhat disappointing. I’d still like to try it in some homemade ice cream or a homemade smoothie, but dates are better.

Here’s another ant that was crawling on my keyboard. They’re tiny, red, biting things, nasty little critters. If only they didn’t bite, come after my food while I’m preparing it and/or eating, and stayed out of the water, then I might be able to ignore them, except when they’re crawling on my toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, etc…

I haven’t been feeling well, especially since some time ago in Bangkok, but have been feeling better since abandoning the eggs and dairy, cutting back significantly on pastries and other unnatural sweets, and eating more raw fruit. A friend brought me some lychee twice, and I have been enjoying the taste. The first time she brought it was the first time that I’ve eaten it fresh. Canned, I didn’t care for it. It was boring, kind of like canned pears (although I like pears more now than I did back when I tried canned lychee, though I did like canned pears then, sometimes), but fresh it’s totally different, and juicy and delicious. It seems jackfruit is also in season, too. We found some at the market that was ripe, a nice salmon color, and I really enjoyed it. I like to eat it washed in water because it not only does away with the germs, but seems to make it more juicy.

I used to brush my teeth with the water coming from the bathroom sink, but have been using drinking water this past week and wonder if that also has had a positive impact on my health. We’re told over and over that the water here isn’t clean and should only be used for washing. I know that, but old habits are hard to break, especially when you don’t see the contaminants (except for the obvious stinky green stuff that grows on your retainer, which you also wash in that water) after it sits in its container for a day or two. Since returning, the smell coming from the bathroom faucet and hoses has become even more suspicious, and I’m hoping that nothing died in the pipes (and especially not in the well) while I was away (nor after I returned). After all, I still wash dishes and myself with that water.

But even though I miss the kids, the fresh baked goodies from the vegetarian food store, the adventure, the freedom and comfort of being able to walk around the compound, and the delicious vegetarian food from the cafeteria and a few good cooks, it’s good to be back.

Change is coming. I’m in the process of renovating this website, but changes are happening in my life, too, and I trust that it will all work out for the best. Sometimes I wonder if perhaps I shouldn’t have been so quick to take on the project of renovating this site, but should have waited to consider if I could accomplish the task before I started it. We’ll see what happens. For now, at least I know I can still add new posts as I work on moving things around, because the people who care have probably subscribed, and will have the new posts delivered to them even if they’re not posted directly onto the site. That’s pretty convenient, isn’t it? Thanks for sticking with me through all of this.

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