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living the life

Today I’m Living the Life.

I am lying in a hammock under the orange tree with the sun shining and a gentle swell on the breeze giving me a little swing. In the foreground the grey leaves of the olives trees look sharp before they give way to a soft sea of green; first of pine and oak then the dense forest of eucalypt beyond. There’s no sound except the quiet hiss of my thermos of lapsang souchong.

It’s a beautiful moment to give thanks…

To that filthy burrowing bastard who bit me on the little finger and put me in hospital – fearing of rabies and septicaemia and toxoplasmosis and leishmaniasis! Oh the scourging pain that rattled through my body while that rat’s poisoned sap leached through my veins and molested my glands. Infested, infected, inflamed!

Hang on, just have to reach for another shortbread.
live the life

I confess, I didn’t think much of the bite at the time. Yes, I washed it. Yes, I put iodine on it. But then I forgot about it. After all, it wasn’t the worst injury I’d had that day. The gouge on my right shin was far more impressive, blood, bruising, very nasty. So when Friday night comes around and I’m feeling all achy all over, I put it down to a week’s worth of shifting monster stones up a wall. But Saturday, it’s worse. I now have a huge lump under my arm and I can’t move I’m in so much pain. Sunday is also a lie-in-bed watch-movies occasion. The cat thinks it’s Christmas.

Monday I manage to drag myself off to the health centre. After an hour in the waiting room and one minute with the doctor, the next thing I know I’m being sent in a speeding taxi to the hospital. Rabies!

At the hospital there’s the obligatory lengthy wait during which all the very old and I play the silent game of what’s wrong with them then. When my turn comes I’m whisked off to a special exam room and treated to a scene of Grey’s Anatomy in which the handsome black chief resident and his gaggle of 20 something cuties all take turns in proffering a diagnosis.

Suddenly I’m waiting in line for radiology. The radiographers are a couple of clowns and their show starts with the cheekier one joining me in the single person changing room to discuss just which part of my single person requires x-ray. He examines my little finger up close. But they decide to x-ray my chest instead.

Por que? Rabies! Everyone is still worried about rabies. But, of course, they find nothing on the x-ray or in the blood. No rabies, no infection and no random virus to explain why I feel like I’ve been beaten with a baseball bat. It’s all just put down to inflammation.

They sent me home, to swing in a hammock. It’s not so bad. Thank you, little mole.

view from the hammock


  1. tessa April 3, 2009 10:15 pm Reply

    Well if it came down to xraying your finger or your chest – lets be honest – you have a great chest. Hidouesness – so it was a wild mole – the terror of Portugal?

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: April 7th, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    he he he he; yeah, forget australia for dangerous animals, it’s the portuguese baby moles you have to watch. He was so cute too, those funny little feet and that pointy little nose… little bastard. My finger still hurts after two months.

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  2. Clive June 9, 2010 8:02 pm Reply

    Thanks for blogging this Emma. We work on the land for a fair bit of time and although we don’t have many dreaded aggressive moles we do have plenty of rodents and snakes. In future I’ll be a little more cautious. Our dog has had a couple of snake bites in the last six years and it is a pain and a worry (and expensive at the vet’s). This down-side of the rural life is minor compared to the fun and pleasure that we have living here, though.
    Rodents – apparently there is one which has migrated into this region (Lousa / Poiares) and loves veg gardens. My friend was reading in his garden one day and watched in disbelief as a cauliflower plant wobbled then sank into the earth and vanished! The (Spanish, they say) vole-like subterranean critter had made a hole and dragged it in. This pest stayed for dinner for two weeks until the locals got rid of it for him with a trap. They burrow all over the place and in my orchard completely ate the roots of a four-year old fruit tree. Now when I’m irrigating I poke the hose into their burrows for a few minutes and this seems to keep them at bay – I hope they move on to drier homes!
    I’m sure your walls look great now 🙂

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  3. Adelina Azevedo April 13, 2012 1:50 am Reply

    Dear Emma,

    Great blog. You have the patience of a saint. After many years, our family property is still unresolved. It is in ruins in the Azores.

    I enjoyed reading your tribulations.


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  4. Brad Majors February 23, 2018 3:06 am Reply


    I am late coming to your blog. However, your ‘voice’ reminds me a bit of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Have seen it?

    Anyway, I am learning a bit about Portugal by reading your very humorous blog. Thanks for sharing parts of your life with us!

    [Reply to comment]

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