Blood Sucking Leeches

Thursday, September 4th, 2008
My sister Roxanne needs a blog, but since she's too busy hiking in the rain forests of Malaysia I offered to post her story here...
(An alternate title could have been:  "One more reason not to visit your sister in KL.")

Sept. 1, 2008
Dear Friends and Family,

Saturday morning marked our first encounter with leeches.  Granted a 3-day weekend to celebrate Malaysia’s Independence Day, we were inspired to go for a hike in KL.  Our task was to trek through the rain forest. Our reward would be a dip in the ponds above a local waterfall.  The only challenge, beyond cardiovascular, was to avoid the teams of squishy tubular blood-sucking leeches that lined the trail.

It turns out that leeches are keen at sensing movement and are actually drawn to our carbon-dioxide rich exhalations.  In the wettest parts of the trail, the leeches “stood” upright, dancing in our path…reaching towards us, desperately trying to throw themselves aboard our mud-soaked shoes.  Once aboard, they would inch their way to softer territory. Sometimes, that meant they would climb up our legs. Often they would squirm their way between shoe and sock.  Then, unbeknownst to us, they would gorge themselves on our nutrient-rich blood.

We were squeamish at first.. that is to say, we responded to the first few leech mountings with shrieks and cries of terror.  As the hike progressed, however, screening each other for leeches became routine. We even became adept at “flicking” and disengaging the creatures from our shoes, legs, and in one hiker’s unfortunate case… his “nether regions.”

The leeches that were successful, hung on until satiated and then left as silently as they had arrived. Sometimes, our only knowledge of their comings and goings was the thin stream of blood running down our legs.  Those that unwittingly hosted leeches on their feet went home with blood soaked socks, thus making the wounds seem much more impressive than they really were.

Well after we returned from the hike, showered and napped, I was still thinking about the leeches. My thoughts wandered from the leeches to our use of their name to characterize those we consider “free-loaders.” The real leeches didn’t take more blood than any of us could afford to lose.  Their method of puncture, blood sucking and departure was painless.  Beyond the sacrifice of a few stained socks, their comings and goings represented no great inconvenience.  Though I am not sure how, I trust that  these legless leeches perform a great function in nature’s web.  Perhaps their human counterparts do to.

The Wandering Ross Tribe

Discussion/Comments (2):

Blood Sucking Leeches

where r the REAL PICTURES.

Posted at 10/21/2008 6:57:15 by rahimrembert

Blood Sucking Leeches

Who buys leeches in Malaysia? prices???

Posted at 11/19/2008 6:27:07 by Tim

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