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Friday, 19 August 2011

A Snake-tastic Weekend

While Onlooker at a recent cultural event I am only hours away from another weekend, the last one is still very fresh in my mind and the thing that featured the most, other than perhaps laughter was my old leathery, scaly, slithering, scream-inducing friends, the snake population of Chikuni.

So I am sitting on my front step, enjoying a sneaky coffee and ginger-nut on a hot Saturday afternoon when I should be in Chikuni. The concrete underneath my (cute) butt is hot, the birds are flying through the air and I am pondering the meaning of… ”What the Hell was THAT?” Rustling comes from the corner of the flowerbed just below where the house meets the front step. I knew immediately what the hell that was. That was the sound of a snake slithering over the dry leaves that have built up in the corner. Next came the difficult question, do I finish this fine coffee or do I run away? Of course I finished the coffee; I mean come on, it’s coffee! I will admit though, I finished it quicker than normal with regular glances over my left shoulder. After escaping into the ‘safety’* of the house I got myself ready to return to Chikuni and then before shouldering my pack I picked up an old broom handle and went for a proper look. I could just make out the not-so-little bugger in amongst the leaves. It was light brown/tan in colour making it hard to distinguish. As the end of the handle got closer to it, it hissed louder and louder. In a moment of inspiration I suddenly came to my senses and thought, “what the hell am I doing? If I provoke it then it’ll probably bite me; if I leave it alone then I don’t get bitten and it doesn’t have to die.” So I sensibly decided (yes, me, imagine!) to leave it alone and hope that it didn’t decide to take up residence there. I hopped on the bike and we both went our separate ways, (hopefully) never to meet again. I will tell you though that coming home in the dark that night I made far more noise than normal in the yard and didn’t hang around before slamming the door behind me. *Fun fact though, snakes can get through the gap between the floor and the door, hurray!

Next Snake skin left behind by my Saturday snake and my size 9 shoes was Sunday morning, on my way out to meet a friend for a picnic. I rolled the big gate that keeps the cows etc out of our garden shut behind me and made it approximately two steps forward when I heard and then saw a little wiry green snake jump into another pile of leaves. This one was only a baby compared to the day before. I didn’t have anything to poke it with and I was already on Zam-time (i.e. half an hour late, yes even here I am useless at time keeping) so decided to just keep going. I met a girl walking in to see the guy I live with so I did at least warn her and the contorted look on her face was well worth it.

Lastly, later in the day, this friend and I were walking along through the bush having a great old chat when lo and behold, we literally stumbled across a snake sunning itself on a patch of grass. I’ve always been led to believe that snakes can feel the vibrations of footsteps long before you get near them but if that’s true this one must have been a real dunce because it was as surprised as we were at the encounter. My friend screamed and ran for the hills (literally, because that’s where we were walking to) while the snake did a very acrobatic little jig and plunged head first into it’s hole (the internet has failed me in finding the name for a snakes home and even I don’t believe snakery is a word). All this happened as I stood there like a sack of spuds looking at the spot where the snakes tail had disappeared only moments before and thinking “cool, three snakes in two days”. Meanwhile my friend was fifty metres down the path in obvious shock and muttering “ewww ewww ewww, I HATE snakes!” I Mr. Snake Charmerquickly realised that I had to go and calm her down but no amount of comforting words and accounts of personal heroics involving many a maiden would console her. She spent the rest of the walk keeping two very weary eyes on the ground and even the very mention of a s-n-a-k-e resulted in a shiver and a cold glance. Thankfully we didn’t meet any more though and the picnic turned out to be a very lovely idea.

Your snake-charmer in the middle of nowhere

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