Friday, August 28, 2009


(or Yoksum, Yaksum, Yoksom, Yuksum, Yuksom)

Our Jeep has left Gangtok at 6.30am. I'm sitting by the window on the passenger seat. The guy to my right has his legs on both sides of the gearshift. Always up to gathering informations and talking, I chat with the lady behind me during the trip. She's American and is travelling in India to follow the Buddhist way and find happiness. She warns me about leeches. There are a lot of them around here in the Summer, so I should avoid tall grass and expect to be attacked by leeches at one point or another, especially on trekking trails. I tell her that I'm pretty sure I can avoid them and stuffing my pants in my socks should suffice to protect my legs. She remains doubtful. And, as we reach Yuksam and get off the Jeep, a red spot on my pants around my ankle tells me that I'm gonna have to deal with leeches after all. It was quite a big one too considering the wound.

Leeches release both an anticoagulant and an anesthetic that allow them to feast on blood without being noticed by the victim. After a while, sometimes after the leech detached itself, the wound bleeds abundantly and itches a little. The best remedy to get rid of a leech is to sprinkle the animal with a pinch of salt. The salt will dehydrate it and it will almost instantaneously fall, before crawling to its death, leaving behind a beautiful trail of your blood.

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