Well, my friend Nai has done it again or it’s been done to him or whatever. The guy just doesn’t have much luck at all, though I doubt luck has much to do with it. As you may recall, he was in a bad motorcycle accident a few months ago, and it has been only recently that he seemed fully-recovered. He had a bout with malaria recently, too. A week-and-a-half ago, he told me his mother was sick. She was in the small local hospital (woefully inadequate) next to his house, and he had been going over there to bring food to her and to sit with her. He had also been working in the Vientiane morning market, getting up at 2 a.m. to go there to sell rice, making a bit of money, becoming somewhat self-sufficient. (I gave him the money to get started in this.)

A few days ago I called him to say hello, but his brother Pui answered Nai’s cell phone and said he was at the hospital with his mother. “OK, I call back tomorrow,” I told him. The next day he was at the hospital and the day after that. Finally, it hit me that he wasn’t seeing his mother, but, instead he was IN the hospital himself. I confirmed that with Pui. “Nai have accident?” “Yes,” Pui said, “Nai accident. Hospital Vientiane.”

Then I got an email from his father yesterday, written with the help of one of Nai’s English-speaking Lao friends. Apparently, Nai had been getting more and more tired from working the market that time of day, and, when he got up to go to the toilet and get ready to go into work again, he fell (fainted? passed out?) and smashed his head on the concrete floor. It sounds like he suffered a concussion, at least. I talked to him this morning, finally, and he was pretty much out of it, groggy with the medicine he’s taking and his head in a lot of pain. He said he might have to go to the hospital in Nong Khai, across the river in Thailand, maybe for a couple of weeks. His mother is also still very ill, apparently, and, of course, the family has no money to cover hospital, doctor and medicinal expenses. Guess who does? Yes, I was asked by the father, who is a very dignified old gentleman and not one to beg, if I could send a few thousand dollars to help the family. My finances lately are really hurting, but I couldn’t say no and let them suffer without medical care and medicine. I can hardly wait to get back there in July to say hello and see in person what’s going on with Nai and his family. I’m always happy to see them and they make me feel like part of their family. I’ll spend most of my time in Laos staying with them and save money by staying out of Vientiane hotels and guest houses. I just pray they’re all in good health soon.

Talking about my faltering finances, my mother told me that I had been getting calls the last few days from one of my credit card companies, telling me to call them about possible fraudulent use of the card. I thought it was probably just a response to my using it to purchase my plane ticket to Thailand, but, no, someone had been using the credit card number in California, mainly for small purchases at Target and McDonalds. How they got the number (and then made a fake card out of it) I don’t know. I’m sure it was nothing they found online, since I’m very careful about covering my tracks online and keeping my anti-virus, anti-spyware programs up to date. I used that particular card in Santo Domingo the past several weeks, at FedEx and at D’Luis Restaurant, a respectable, somewhat upscale establishment. Could someone there have copied my cc info and sold it? Possibly, I suppose. Anyway, the card was canceled and a new one is on the way to my Montana address.

In addition, I am now waiting for the other shoe to drop on my income taxes. The IRS told me it would take about 6-8 weeks to render a judgment on the fees and penalties I owe, and that’s right . . . about . . . now.

On a brighter note, we had some sunshine today. Only a couple hours worth, so far, but sunshine nevertheless. Also, in a follow up to my last post in which I was somewhat skeptical about the current state of affairs in the U.S., here’s a speech given by Pulitzer Prize-Winning reporter Chris Hedges. It pretty much sums up my feelings. It’s long, but give it a go if you’re interested. (And I’m sure many of you are not. 🙂 )
More later.