These Castle tales are in no way meant to deter people from this profoundly spectacular experience. I enjoyed my two months working and living with like-minded business professionals who are successful a few times over (in their own right) in the industry that I closed my eyes and jumped into just over one year ago. I pushed myself and was rewarded for it on so many levels. That being said, these tales (that are in fact real) as told from my perspective did transpire during those two months on Samui.
Motorbikes wiz by leaving less than an inch or two between my arm and the side view mirrors. I’m not quite comfortable driving a motorbike any further than the end of the Castle driveway at this point, but the need to break the monotony and to explore more of this beautiful island is profoundly necessary. My roomies and I have decided to walk down to my favorite bar on the island, Rock Bar, for some exercise, a beer (or two) and that exquisite view. The bar is about a thirty-minute walk from the house, but is a relatively straight shot. The three of us trek along, most of the time in single file to avoid being hit or clipped by the oncoming traffic. The first time I made this journey it was just the two of us, roomie number one and I. On our way back home I noticed a snake attempting to get to the brush at the edge of a driveway, but unavoidably headed in our direction to do so, and fast! I make a manly grunt, my version of screaming and grab my roommates arm to alert her. When she locks eyes on the source of my hesitation we both back up slightly before looking both ways and quickly crossing to the other side of the street. Shaken we both keep moving, but on high alert.
It’s a gorgeous sunny Thai day on Samui and I’ve got a one-track mind. Our newest roommate arrived a handful of days ago and is obviously stressed and overwhelmed by the amount of work she sees the two of us doing and the lack of communication about the software we use in the house to track and modify deadlines/assignments. It doesn’t help matters that our house manager left abruptly, followed by one of our housemates who got a job offer in Bali, what seemed like two days after she arrived. This view surely will take her mind off things and allow her an opportunity to open up a bit about herself and discover more about the two of us. I’m confident the journey helped, even if just a little, and after too long we set out home. There’s power in numbers I thought to myself as the three of us headed south back towards Hua Thanon were the Content Castle resides.
The jungle, for the most part, has been pushed far back from the road by human existence and developments, but there’s the occasional section of Ring Road (the main road of the island) that the jungle comes right to the edge of the street. An unfinished gutter lines portions of the road and as I lead the pack back home a slithering object catches my attention. Now, I have a truly irrational fear of snakes. I was never bitten by one, never owned one, never knew anyone that owned one in order to justify this fear, I just am certain they scare the living F&$@ out of me; all things reptilian, in fact. My elder sister and I owned an iguana once (Iggy, so named–of course), but I spent more time half afraid of him and throwing the pieces of lettuce into his aquarium to feed him from a distance. So you can imagine my reaction to this long, brownish-gold, slithering object seen from my peripheral heading in my direction. As aforementioned, I don’t know how to “scream like a girl”. Instead, I grunt or wail with a rasp–I’m unique that way! Knowing this, more often than not I physically react to things that frighten me more so then scream (ok, raspy wail) in terror.
After noticing the culprit of my nightmares I pivot and bear hug the roommate closest to me (and that I’m closest to because we’ve been in the house together longer) forgetting all about roomie number two in the process. Roomie number one, a quick study to my behavior and having previously survived seeing a snake in my presence understands what this must mean and stops dead in her tracks. When words find me, I get out that there’s a snake over there and that this one was different and much larger than the snake we’d seen the week beforehand. Roomie number two cracks a joke about how she’s not worthy of mine saving as my death grip loosens around the torso of roomie number one and we all laugh off the situation and continue forward.
Once in the safety of the house, the day continues as normal. We all branch off and tend to unfinished assignments, check deadlines and attempt to catch up on the endless string of communication channels where everything Castle related is discussed. The afternoon turns to evening and we gather downstairs one by one for dinner. The three of us are no strangers to alcohol and as dinner settled in our guts we cracked the seal on some wine coolers. These drinks are comprised of more cooler than wine, but they’re sweet, cheap and satisfy well enough. The lower level of the house, like the rest of it, is stunning featuring wall to ceiling windows in the front half. Security protocol requires we draw the metal security doors before going to bed except these blinds are located just outside of the double glass doors. The barrier door is heavy and the handle much higher off of the ground than myself so as I approach the front doors I stop to drag one of the chairs to wedge between the door in order to stand on it and grab the handle securely. As I near the doors I notice a yellow, spotted head protruding downward from the base of the rolling door with two black eyes staring right back at me and one single thought goes through my head; SNAKE!
I raspy wail and swivel to face the girls with wide eyes and point to the door telling them there’s a snake living in the metal roller. They both sit straight up then bolt to the door to see what I saw, but all of the movement frightened the reptile and it disappeared into the darkness and safety of the metal contraption. “Are you sure it was a snake?” asks roomie number two. “I think it was a gecko,” exclaims roomie number one. I throw my hands in the air and move away from the door and shout, “well if it was they have geckos’ the size of Jesus out here!” I try to explain that the face was yellow with dark spots and came to a point at the snout, like a snake. I did not see the body of the animal, but have never seen a gecko that size in my life. Do they exist, sure, but they exist far outside of the realm of my mental capabilities to comprehend one that size living so close to me. There have been dozens of small geckos seen crawling around the ceiling and on the walls of the balcony areas of the house; those I can stand. Those are tiny. Those are cute, especially when they start making that adorable little gecko call. This, in my mind, was a monster.
A few nights pass and I’m haunted by the image of the snake and keeping every window without a screen in my room (and on the entire second floor for that matter) closed, just in case. Night after night we would gather near the door hoping to catch a glimpse of the gecko-snake to put an end to the speculation and agree on what kind of reptile it is once and for all. Considering my commentary the evening the thing scared the daylights out of me, the creature has taken on the name Gecko Jesus; lovingly bestowed by roomie number one who has become his first disciple in the house. Slowly the curious creature would peak his head out and look at all of us gawking back at him until one night he moved far enough down to reveal his paw. That was all the evidence roomie number one needed to cement her assumptions. Four little suctioning toes clung to the wall confirming that the reptile was, in fact, a gecko and not a snake.
As time went on, my hostility towards Gecko Jesus dissipated along with my nightmares of snakes his exact color crawling all over me as I slept. Our group chat was flooded with different gecko images; geckos in Santa hats, geckos wearing bells, geckos yawning. All of this in an attempt to bring me in as a disciple and for some hearty belly laughs as well. Gecko Jesus became a stress relieving topic for us in the house and we began to introduce him to any guests as if he was a resident himself. With all three of us girls making our exit in the same manner as we arrived, one after the other, we decided that we should commemorate our time in the house with a stuffed gecko to take home. This would allow Gecko Jesus to be anywhere we were and the memories of the Castle guardian could live on.