Snakes in Africa?

26 02 2011

So about 3 weeks ago while I was returning to my house after a trip to town, my neighbor Charles came over to greet me.  After exchanging some greetings, he recommended that I cut down all the flowers and bushes that were growing around my house.  I looked at him and asked him why the heck I’d want to cut down all the flowers, which are pretty nice looking and some of the only things that actually grow even when there is a shortage of rain.  Charles gave me a half smile and told me to follow him.  I dropped my bag off in my house and followed Charles.  He began to tell me his story, which was supposed to convince me to let the students at the school come down and hack down all the flowers and bushes around my house.  He proceeded to tell me that on the Saturday I was in town he was in his courtyard doing some laundry.  He went into his choo (bathroom; aka hole in the ground) and was ready to do his business.  Right before he bent down though, he noticed something sticking out of the hole in the ground.  This hole is only for waste to go down, so nothing should be coming back out of it.  He quickly realized it was a snake and jumped to his feet and out into his courtyard.  He slowly moved back towards the choo and saw that the snake was about 4.5 feet long and about the thickness of my thigh.  Since he’s an expert with these types of things, he decided he couldn’t kill the thing by himself.  There was a school board meeting currently being conducted up at the school so he walked up to the school to see if he could get some help.  As luck would have it, there were three maasai warriors (If you have never seen a picture of a maasai, I recommend using google.  The maasai are one of the most famous tribes in Africa) who were there as our school employs some of them to work night guard duty at the school.  So Charles and three maasai warriors walked down to Charles’ house to attempt to take care of the snake.  Charles told me it took the 4 of them about 20 minutes to corner the things in his courtyard and beat it to death with sticks.  He also said that when the snake stood up it was about 3.5 feet tall and was spitting venom in their general direction.  The distance he said the snake was spitting venom was about 10 feet.  As he was telling me this story, I was looking around nervously at all the tall grass in the general area of our houses and immediately understood why he was recommending I cut down all the flowers growing near my house.  He then told me to follow him.  He opened the concrete lid to the hole where the waste from the choo flows which revealed the final resting place of the snake.  I looked down into the hole and jumped back immediately, shocked at the size of the snake.  For the past 3.5 months here I’ve heard people telling me snake stories but hadn’t so much as seen a garden snake so was starting to doubt the existence of them and thought people were exaggerating the prevalence.  Well, I was wrong.  I told Charles that I wanted to pay someone as soon as possible to come to my house and cut down any possible hiding place for any other snakes that may be lurking in the area.  The next day, I nervously walked around my own courtyard, slowly peeking around corners and into rooms before I entered.  Two days later, just as I started to tell myself “okay, what are the odds that another snake will come around considering I haven’t seen one in the first 3.5 months here?” I woke up on the third day since Charles told me this story to a knock on my courtyard door.  It was Charles again.  He informed me that the previous night while he was assembling a new dresser he bought in his house, he saw a snake slither into his front door and down his hallway towards his room.  He said he waited to see if it would turn around and exit his house, but instead he said the things continued on to his main bedroom.  Since it was about 10pm, he decided to shut the door, lock the snake in his main bedroom and sleep in his second bedroom.  He then asked me if I could come over and help him get rid of it.  I’d be lying to you if I was just a little bit scared.  I said to myself “are you kidding me? What the hell am I supposed to do?” but I figured that if there was a snake in my house he’d come and help me so we walked up to the school and grabbed 3 students to help us.  We walked back down to our houses and cut three large branches off a nearby tree to use as weapons against the snake.  If I weren’t slightly concerned, the scene would have been comical.  Me and 3 other students all holding large tree branches following Charles down his main hallway as he prepared to open the door to the bedroom.  I figured the students would be more confident in what they were doing than me, but at the sound of any noise they heard they jumped back further than I did.  But anyway, we all crept to the door of the bedroom, standing behind Charles with our tree branches raised as if the snake was going to jump out of the room and attack us as soon as he opened the door.  As Charles opened the door, he poked his head in and checked behind the door and quickly scanned the room.  After no luck in seeing any sign of the snake he slowly and carefully walked over and stood on his bed, poking the various boxes and piles of clothes laying on his floor with a long broom handle.  After about 10 minutes, the students and I started to doubt there was actually and snake.  We started joking with Charles that he had dreamed the thing and that there was no snake.  Just as we were about to leave, Charles yelled the he finally found the snake hiding in a cardboard box in the corner of his room.  Of course, like a bad car accident, we all had to poke our heads in and get a look.  The snake was maybe about 2.5 feet long and the thickness of a small water bottle but wasn’t nearly as big as the one Charles and the maasai warriors had killed just three days earlier.  Shockingly, none of us really wanted to get near the thing to hit it, so Charles, who was still standing on his bed keeping an eye on the thing, called us in and told us to bring him rocks to throw at it.  One of the students went outside and returned with 3 bricks and quickly ran into the room to hand them off to Charles.  On the first toss, Charles missed.  On the second toss, he hit the thing squarely in the head and proceeded to yell “ahhh!! Right in the head!! I got him!!” while jumping up and down on his bed with his hands raised over his head in triumph.  Even at the time I was thinking to myself “I can’t believe this is actually happening”.  We picked the snake up with one of the longs sticks and tossed it way out into the field.  After about a tense hour long standoff, we finally conquered the snake.  Hopefully it will be the last time I’ll be required to do something like that, but only time will tell….

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One response

27 02 2011
Aunt Kathy

Hi Glenn,
OMG!!! I was laughing histerical!!! I was just imagining Aunt Lynn and I in the same situation!!! We probably would have killed each other on accident trying to run!! We are really enjoying your stories. I hope you write a book when you return. We all talk about you alot to our friends. Jack just thinks you are sooo awesome! We love you and miss you!! Aunt Kathy xo

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