In Fiji, and generally around the Indo-Pacific, we have many different types of ginger plant, which are grown as ornamentals and specific varieties cultivated for the edible ginger root. Here Tui Place we have maybe a dozen different varieties planted along our boundary – pink ginger, torch ginger, blue ice ginger, cigar ginger to name a few. When planted where you want them, and kept under control, they can be very nice indeed. When left to grow freely though, they can quickly become a nightmare.
My own personal ginger nightmare occurred last year when I decided to permanently clear a patch in the compound. To permanently clear it, it needs to be dug up roots and all. The roots, or rhizomes, spread prolifically and leaving any trace will result in a new patch establishing itself again pretty quickly. So, digging them up can be a tough job, and since Taveuni is basically a volcano, then any digging is made even more difficult by the rocky conditions.
I spent most of a day hacking with a cane knife, digging and pulling at roots, and levering and heaving rocks and boulders out of a 10’x10′ patch ground covered in ginger – this was to be the spot for the kids new sandpit. By the end of the day the patch was clear, but I was really feeling it, and figured the next day I’d be feeling it even more having had a few muscle twinges whilst working.
Twenty-four hours later I was in the bathroom staring in disbelief at my testicles, which now looked something like a couple of beetroots and seemed to have evolved a gazillion new nerve endings to transmit pain. The additional pain just below my belly made it a good guess I’d got a ruptured hernia. That night I lay in bed wondering how big they would be when I woke up (if I could sleep, that is), or indeed if I would wake up – maybe I’d be found laying spread-eagled on the bed with testicular tissue decorating the walls and ceiling after spontaneously exploding during the night. If I did wake up, then first thing was a trip to the hospital.
After a restless night mainly spent trying to arrange my tackle into a comfortable position, which was painful in itself, I was still the owner of my new vegetable garden. I wasn’t looking forward to the drive to the hospital – mostly a pothole-ridden track, pain beckoning with every bump. Slowly and carefully, dare I say it “gingerly”, I drove my way there, and waited for the regulation 90 minutes to be seen. After explaining the situation to the doctor on duty, he declined my offer to take a look down below and sent me straight to radiology. The radiologist was more keen, and as I lay there with my boxers on the floor he covered my bits in clear, cold gel whilst I winced and flinched with every touch of his rubber-gloved hands.
“My, my Mr Wilkins !! Are your balls normally this big ?”
“Er……nooooo…….that’s…….why……….I’mmmmmm heeeeearggghhhhh !!!!”
“I think they must be the biggest balls I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a few !!!”
“Oh ………really ? I’m……..glad…..I’ve……made……your…….day-ay-ay-eeeeeee”
“Does it hurt ?”
And so it went, for 20 excruciating minutes as he gave me a thorough inspection and sonar scan, which revealed the damage would not require surgery, but would require 10 days of doing not a lot whilst popping painkillers and antibiotics.
Ten days later I was back outside doing light jobs in the compound whilst wearing something a bit more supportive than boxer shorts, and three weeks later fully recovered with average (I think) sized testicles.
So, my friends, before tackling a ginger patch – ensure your tackle is firmly pouched, use correct lifting technique at all times, and if in doubt don’t lift/pull/push more than you’ve got the balls for. It’s not big, and it’s not clever.
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Corals, cabbages and clowns abound in a kaleidoscope of colours to treat those who take the plunge into any of the many dive sites up and down the Somosomo Strait, Vuna Reef, and around Qamea, Laucala and Matagi Islands. Take a pictorial tour with photos from Heather Sutton.