A Scorpio Versus Scorpions

The following story was written by Gayle about an unfortunate incident she experienced during her and Ian’s time living at their house in Chapala, Mexico in 2006.

A Scorpio Versus Scorpions          ScorpionVectorImageVP

Scorpio may be my sign of the Zodiac, but that’s really all I ever wanted to have to do with the creatures!

One March evening during our sojourn in Mexico we had just enjoyed a long moonlit soak in the hot tub when about 10 p.m. Ian went inside to refresh our drinks. I took advantage of his absence to get out my foam exercise “noodle” and do my daily aqua sit-ups.

(Little known to me, there must have been a “wee creepy” sleeping in the hollow inside of the noodle, which decided to join me for his or her water exercises!) I had just put the noodle aside when I noticed what I thought was a floating begonia flower that had likely dropped from a planter hanging over the pool. Instead of picking it up with our pool sieve, I stupidly went to scoop it out with my hand and it stung me on the middle finger! Practically blinded by the pain, I slapped my hand down on my thigh and got two more stings before flinging it over the edge of the tub. Then, with terrible burning sensations in both finger and thigh, I (in Ian’s words) “came out of the pool like a tsunami and screaming like a banshee!”

There was no question in our minds that I had encountered a very startled scorpion – and we weren’t about to look for it to verify our suspicions. We quickly dried off, got dressed and within a few minutes were off to the 24-hour Red Cross clinic at the other end of Chapala.

By the time we got there (about 15 minutes later) it felt as if my entire arm and upper leg were on fire, my tongue was feeling “funny” and my lips were numbing, but luckily I had no swelling. I was rushed into a ward, put onto a bed and hooked up to an IV within a few minutes. Then came two huge syringes about 5 inches long and one inch in diameter. The combination of antihistamine and steroids gradually rid me of the mouth-numbing sensations but the excruciating stinging just kept up.

About an hour and a half later I was released and we motored off to the nearby town of Ajijic, which has the only nearby 24-hour pharmacy, to fill a prescription for pain pills (which, incidentally, didn’t seem to me to help much).

It was then midnight. I attempted to sleep but was so miserable and restless I knew Ian would get no sleep if I stayed in bed, so I went upstairs to our den with a window wall overlooking the lake and distant mountains and read through the night as best I could. The pain finally left my thigh (which sported two ugly red welts) by the following evening. The pain in the arm started to abate that first night but the finger itself just kept up that fiery stinging sensation for about 36 hours, although only a slight prick marked the spot. For the next couple of weeks my finger was totally numb; then, very slowly the feeling started coming back.

Two months later, I just had a very slight numbness at the tip of the finger. A doctor friend of ours prescribed a “second generation antihistamine” tablet to keep on hand at all times. He says any subsequent scorpion sting would probably result in an even worse and quicker reaction so it’s important to be prepared and, before heading for a clinic, to take the medication.

We’ve read that the scorpions in our area are only “semi-deadly”, that on a scale of one to four they are only a “two.” Imagine what a number “four” could do! (We’ve also heard of a local woman who died from a scorpion sting because she didn’t get medical help!)

Need I say that, ever since, I’m very careful to check my noodle before doing any exercises? And I steer clear of any scorpion I see, letting Ian zap them on sight. We continue to find the occasional dead one in the house, but Ian’s monthly spraying seems to get the critters before they get very far. Considering this encounter and others we’ve had with “wee critters” in Mexico, we don’t think we were cut out to be “southerners!”

Exercising with my noodle on a non-scorpion evening.

Exercising with my noodle on a non-scorpion evening.

100_0351

Our hot tub, garden and surroundings in Chapala, Mexico

 

Tracing Your Ancestry – Start with an old family photo

In my opinion, Egypt consisted of nothing but a whole lot of dirty sand. I'm looking over the sand dunes, 1951.

In my opinion, Egypt consisted of nothing but a whole lot of dirty sand. I’m looking over the sand dunes, 1951.

How exciting to have strangers check us out online!  It’s even more exciting when they write to us out of the blue, assuming that we might be able to give them some guidance on a subject that drew them to us and that is of interest to them. Ian received such an email this week because he has written in his memoir “From Poverty to Poverty: A Scotsman Encounters Canada,” about his time serving in the British Royal Air Force in pre-Suez Canal Egypt, 1951-1953. We’d like to share some of this correspondence in case others are thinking about searching out their family history and are wondering where they might start.  Luckily, Ian and I both have cousins who have done considerable research on some of our family histories – in both cases, those of our mothers’ families. We are grateful for all the work these cousins have put into answering a lot of questions about our heritage. Here is the gist of this most recent correspondence:

From ‘A.’ in West Kelowna, British Columbia:

“Hi Ian. I just happened upon your site and book title in the beginning of my search for my family history – all generated by finding a 3.5×5″ photo of my Great Grandmother immigrating to Vancouver, Canada from Aberdeen, Scotland in 1925. On the back of the photo, is written that she came (along with her husband and two small children) aboard the Montcalm freighter ship through the Suez Canal.

 “I’m wondering if by chance you could advise or direct on where I might find more information on the Montcalm. Also, where am I able to purchase your book? I would like to be able to put this photo into some sort of context, though I realize she came to Canada 40 years before you did. .…

 “Thank you for your time and I love the photo of you and your wife on your profile page. 🙂

 Sincerely, ‘A.’”

And, here is our answer:

“Dear ‘A.’

“This is Ian’s wife, Gayle answering. Ian is 81 years old and not in the best of health, so I do most of the work on editing his yet-to-be-published books, negotiating with the publishers, publicizing and marketing and also maintain our blog at www.http://ianmooremorrans.com.  You can order any of his books by going to that listed blog and being directed to the proper site for ordering. You could also take a drive north to Vernon to visit us and buy the book from us, signed by the author – your choice. The cost from us is $20 (no postage, if you pick it up). Thanks for your interest.

“What a pleasant surprise your email was! It sounds like the photo you found has opened up a whole new world of discovery of your family history. I’d recommend you google the Library & Archives Canada site and then go to the passenger lists for ships arriving in Vancouver in 1925. They are on microfilm and you can access them right on the internet.      

“For information on travel on the Suez Canal, google something like “travel through the Suez Canal in the 1920s” or even “British travel through Suez Canal to Canada.”

“I think you’d find Ian’s memoir “From Poverty to Poverty: a Scotsman Encounters Canada” quite interesting and maybe enlightening on the period when Britain was controlling the canal. Ian was there while serving in the Royal Air Force from 1950-1953, just before the Suez Crisis when the canal was seized by the Egyptians under Nassar. There, Ian had a unique view of the tensions involved with the Brits controlling the canal in someone else’s country. He also has quite a few photos in the book connected with his time in Egypt – and a few rather wild stories!

“All the best for your research on your family history. Perhaps we will have an opportunity to meet you sometime in the future. Feel free to write again if you wish.

 “Regards, Gayle Moore-Morrans”

 

Now, if you are interested in researching your family story and if you are lucky enough to have access to photos of, letters by or documents concerning those ancestors who might have been immigrants to the country you live in, dig those photos, letters and documents out of their resting places and have a go at the internet. The quest can be quite enlightening, satisfying and addictive. Your local genealogy society is a good source of guidance as well.

Happy Hogmanay! Happy New Year!

For those who don’t know what “Hogmanay” means, it is the Scottish name for New Year’s Eve. To celebrate this Hogmanay 2012 and tomorrow’s New Year’s Day 2013, we want to interrupt our posting of the next installment of our children’s book, “Jake, Little Jimmy and Big Louie” to post an excerpt from our emails sent to friends in which we related the latest happenings during our extended stay in Mexico November 2004 to March 2007. (Who knows – maybe we’ll even find time some day to publish our Mexican accounts in book form.) This account is from early January 2005 when we were still living in our motorhome at a wonderful water park near Villa Corona, about an hour’s drive east of Guadalajara.  My remarks are in plain type, Gayle’s are in italics.( Our emails were usually a joint effort.)

“We were thrilled to be invited to a New Year’s Eve party at Bill and Eva’s home in Ajijic (just hiccup while you say it and you’ll probably get the pronunciation right). To recap: Bill and Eva are the lovely couple I met on the Internet before we left Winnipeg. We met them in person shortly after our arrival in the area. On our second visit to the “hiccup town”, we popped in again to see them. When we were leaving they told us they were having a New Year’s Eve (Hogmanay, to us Scots) party and that if we wished to attend we’d be very welcome.

“On the way home, after making a reservation for lodging that night at a local bed and breakfast, (We didn’t want to dodge cows, burros and various and sundry drunks whom we might meet on the dark country roads on New Year’s Eve.) Gayle and I talked about the invitation and I decided that, since it was Hogmanay, the biggest Scottish holiday except for perhaps Robbie Burns’ Day, I would wear my kilt, sporran, Argyll jacket and the whole kit and caboodle. Gayle had her tartan cape and formal kilt skirt along so decided to wear hers also.

“So, we got there around seven, started meeting the few that had arrived and then I met Greta! Greta is really a lovely lady but, when she met ‘your’s truly’, she couldn’t believe it. I THINK SHE WANTED TO TAKE ME HOME! I’m sure she’d never before seen a Scotsman in full Highland dress or heard first hand the Scottish burr.  ‘Does he REALLY talk like this all the time?’ she wanted to know. ‘What a wonderful accent,’ and ‘Oh, you’re so cute,’ she cooed. Then, kiss, kiss, kiss!

“(Obviously, Ian thought it was wonderful; I had a hard time keeping my cool!) I don’t know if it was Greta’s husband’s doing (a very nice guy) but they soon left as they were heading for another two parties.

“Then there was another interesting (?) couple – his name was Dan and his name was Tom! Tom was also interested in ‘your’s truly’. Specifically, he said, he was very interested in what I had under my kilt!!!!! (Actually I get this question from someone every time I wear it!) Gayle said later that I should have told him that I have a bumper sticker on the front of our motorhome that reads, ‘Happiness is under my kilt!’ – although I wouldn’t be the least bit interested in proving it to him! He was also interested in the ‘furry thing’ in front. I had to tell him it was my sporran and that he definitely was not getting it!!!!!

“It was a great evening where we were able to meet quite a few gringo friends of Bill and Eva’s, either snowbirds or permanent residents, who we know we’ll want to see more of in days to come. Eva had a wonderful spread of food and we enjoyed Bill’s bartending, the fire in their outdoor fireplace and the great evening air of around 60 (15C) degrees. Just before midnight we walked upstairs to their rooftop terrace perched halfway up the mountain and watched the fireworks being set off down in the town along the lakeside. Of course, we also participated in a good rendition of “Auld Lang Syne.”

“When the party was finally over in the wee hours of the morning, we left Bill and Eva’s to return to the Bed’n’Breakfast we’d booked into. The street was packed and we had to park about two blocks away. Almost next door to the B n’ B we encountered a full-blown Mexican street party. There must have been around two hundred souls, adults and kids all in an elongated circle, taking up the whole street and sidewalks on either side. A big bonfire was going just to the side a little bit and a rope was suspended over the street to hoist piñatas,  hollow containers made of paper maché or clay. Some looked like horses, some like stars and various other shapes. All, of course, were filled with candies for the kids.

“Gayle and I were winding our way through the party to get ‘home’, when I noticed a vacant chair off to the side. Calling Gayle, who was just ahead of me, I motioned  to her to come back and sit. She did, and immediately a chair was provided for me also. The folks were really having a good time and soon the Mexicans accepted us as visitors, everyone smiling and waving to us. We were each offered a glass of hot ‘Ponch’ and then a man with a tequila bottle came by and offered to top up the Ponch. And it was very welcome, I must admit, (not as good as Scotch, but not bad, to tell the truth – well, it was free! Anything alcoholic and free isn’t that bad, is it?) So, I’m thoroughly enjoying the tequila and watching the kids whacking at the piñata. After all the kids had had a turn, many of the adults volunteered or were coerced into taking a whack. Then, silly me, always ready for a “carry-on”, volunteered to try to whack the evasive piñata! This ‘thing’ was on a rope, raised and lowered indiscriminately, making it difficult for a (get this) blindfolded person to hit it.

“Okay, I’m there, Casey at the bat. I had volunteered to beat the piñata to death. It must have been the first time in history (well, in this century) that a Scot, in full Highland dress, was blindfolded and was attempting to destroy the candy container that was swinging from a rope. He did manage to glance a blow off it, but not good enough to break it. After a few minutes I gave up. The crowd then gave me a cheer (more in compassion, I think, than for his competence at being able to hit the target) and I went back to my seat and a wee drop more tequila. Not much later, Gayle and I went to our abode. This was in the wee hours of the morning of the first day of the year.  HAPPY NEW YEAR!”

copyright © 2005