Seven Days and Counting

Another week has flown by and I can’t believe I’m on a seven-day count down to Chile. I enjoyed the rest of my stay in Arkansas and then spent a day in Omaha presenting to a Girl Scout conference. After a long series of flights and one very close connection in Toronto, I managed to get home with seven hours to spare before my next presentation. During my talk Friday morning, I quizzed the pharmacy students on the various drugs that the base camp docs used to try to rid me of bronchitis and giarditis.

Saturday I tried to quickly settle back in, visited Leo and Takunda-he’s growing so big and caught up with other friends. Today I coaxed myself out of bed to do some hills in my new hiking boots before going to meditation. I was moved when a young man from Friday’s conference stopped me in the street to tell me of how my talk had affected him and others. The chance meeting made getting up and facing hills a very fine way to spend a gorgeous Sunday morning especially in light of how hard it was to make the transition from my warm cocoon.

Thanks to all who wrote with appreciation of the duck story. I remembered that I always greet the ducks as I run around Quidi Vidi Lake and that I’d had a funny interaction surrounding “ducks” in Thailand. Given it was a quiet week on the training front-I’ll share that story with you this week.

I was volunteering at Thai rescue centre for elephants and as part of that program, we went to a Karen hill tribe village to vaccinate and care for some of their livestock. My job was to deworm all of the pigs in the village. The program’s vet quickly taught me how to size a pig: lidden, middle, or big and the corresponding amount of dewormer to stir into their slop. Being a researcher, I thought of it as pigs on a “Likert” scale: just born, piglet, large piglet, small pig, medium pig, large pig, very big pig, mother of all pigs.

A villager escorted me to each pig sty in the village-a really unique way to see different homes and gardens. As always in such situations, communication can be humourous. The word for pig in Thai is “moo.” The word for pig in Karen is “duck.” Already, you can see the challenge. So, I’m standing the road heading to the next house when a man roars up on his motorcycle.

He says, “I have three ducks.”

I reply, “We are vaccinating the chickens after dinner. I don’t know if we are vaccinating ducks.”

He says while holding up three fingers on one hand and indicating a middle-sized pig between his hands, “I have three ducks.”

I respond with raised eyebrows, “Ducks? This medicine is for pigs.”

I resort to the universal language of Old McDonald’s Farm once again and begin to make “Oink oink” here and “snort snort” there noises while pointing to the white powder trying to ensure that the correct animal was going to receive the medication.
The man got an excited look on his face and said, “Yes–three ducks worth.”

Later that night, while retelling my story, I finally learned that the Karen word for pig was duck.

So…I guess I have a thing for ducks! I’ve begun piling things up on the couch-going through my gear list, checking it twice-seeing which equipment’s been naughty or nice. It’s hard to fathom that Christmas is just around the corner.

Flat Stanley has been helping me pack. He’s coming along to Chile because he’s been bitten by the climbing bug as well. He’s still mad at me that I forgot to take him along to Arkansas. I hope he’ll forgive me soon.

Have a good week,


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