These Castle Tales are real and recapped from my perspective during two months living in a co-working space for writers on Koh Samui. The Content Castle, as it existed then, is no longer in business.
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. Motorbikes whiz by us leaving less than an inch or two between our arms and the side view mirrors.
I’m contented as a homebody most days, but the need to break the monotony and explore more of this beautiful island is profoundly necessary. On our way back home I noticed a snake attempting to get to the brush at the edge of a driveway. It’s unavoidably headed in our direction and fast! I make a manly grunt, my version of screaming, and grab my roommate’s 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.
No Thanks To Snakes
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 stressed and overwhelmed by the amount of work she sees the two of us doing. There’s little to no clear communication about the software we use in the house to track and modify deadlines/assignments and she’s feeling lost. It doesn’t help matters that two days after her arrival, our house manager left abruptly, followed by one of our housemates who got a job offer in Bali.
I think to myself that the view at Rock Bar will surely 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 recounting the run-ins with snakes on this roadway as the three of us headed south back towards Hua Thanon where 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 where 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, and never knew anyone that owned one to justify this fear, I just am certain they scare the living F&$@ out of me; all things reptilian.
My elder sister and I owned an iguana once, 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 than scream in terror.
After noticing the culprit of my nightmares I pivot and bear hug the roommate closest to me forgetting all about roomie number two in the process. Roomie number one, a quick study of 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 before. Roomie number two cracks a joke about how she’s not worthy of my saving as my death grip loosens around the torso of roomie number one and we all laugh off the situation and continue forward.
Gecko Jesus, Who?
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 satisfying.
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 is 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 to stand on. I grab the handle securely before climbing upon it to reach the handle. 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 a snake is living in the metal roller. They both sit straight up and then bolt to the door to see what I saw/ 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 move away from the door and shout, “Well if it was, they have geckos the size of Jesus out here!” I tried 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. Especially 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.
Getting Acquainted With Gecko Jesus
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 was 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 peek 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 is 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 were 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 Jesus to take home. This would allow Gecko Jesus to be anywhere we were and the memories of the Castle guardian could live on.
Curios About The Content Castle?
The bonding that cemented the relationship between me and these two girls is deeply treasured. This entire experience was unlike anything in my life thus far, Gecko Jesus and attacking snakes included. The adventures we shared at the Content Castle were nicknamed Kastle Kerffufle in the chat group and remain what we refer to it as to date. Sadly, the Castle no longer exists in that capacity, but it will forever be etched in our minds.
Feel like re-living the whole experience? Read about the collision course that started it all!
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