Saturday, November 21, 2009

It finally happened: SNAKE ENCOUNTER

Afrikaans Lesson #17: "Ek Het Slange." Put that into an online Afrikaans translator (or take my word that it means "I Hate Snakes"). I've written about this a few months ago, but--by way of nature and/or nurture--I inherited a severe fear of snakes from my dear mother, bless her ophidiophobic soul (I'm not going to pretend like I didn't have to put "phobia fear of snakes" into Google in order to word that last sentence). With that said, Richmond maybe wasn't the best place to be posted during the onset of summer "snake season."

So, what I've been fearing most finally happened this past week. Early in the week Anna had reported her first snake encounter while running in the veld on a little country trail...just a little guy that slithered out in front of her. At the time I was pretty envious since now it was all over for her...that mental "snake sighting in Africa" barrier had been broken and she could live a healthy, happy life. I, on the other hand, had to wait until Wednesday.

While our Training of Coaches was going on at the Community Center, Anna and I found ourselves out on the soccer field playing a small-sided game with a dozen or so 12- and 13-year old boys. A commotion erupted on the other side of the field, right on the outskirts where the sidelines of the poorly-maintained pitch start to blend into the surrounding grasslands. Anna and I looked up to see a few boys huddled around something, but not before both of the teams we had been playing with bolted in the direction of whatever action was taking place.

I'm going to be honest: it was a pretty small snake. Maybe a foot and a half long, a really skinny. But, after doing my homework on the snakes around here, I identified it as one of these bad boys, a Cape Cobra.

Obviously, it was nowhere near this big or scary-looking. But, looking on from behind what was by now a group of 30 children surrounding the terrified creature, it was still creepy to see this baby cobra with its little head reared up slithering around, snapping at kids' feet.

Now, a responsible adult probably would have dug into his intellectual recesses for the Afrikaans phrase for "IT'S A SNAKE GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE" and tried to move the children away from the cobra. I'm not proud of my conduct, but I will be honest with you: as I looked on through barely-parted fingers horror-movie-style from the back of the crowd, the children took turns running into the middle of the circle and trying to stomp on the snake and take this thing out. The first couple kids weren't able to get close enough for a "head shot" and the snake kept snapping at their feet, at which point the group devised a collective strategy of throwing rocks at the snake's head. The cobra was so small, though, that there was really nothing good to hit. A new, final strategy then became clear (remember, we're in the middle of a soccer field, in the middle of a bustling town at midday): about 5 of the oldest boys began shoveling handfulls of dirt and sand on top of the snake as a strike force of a couple of the bravest kids sprinted in circles around the creature and took turns trying to leap on top of the half-snake/half-sand pile forming in the middle. Eventually someone injured the snake badly enough that the whole group could rush in and stomp it to death.

Cut to vivid memory of a group of boys walking away from the scene triumphantly carrying the carcass, playing tag by whipping each other with the snake's lifeless body.

November Manliness Rankings:
Children of Richmond - 1
Chris Kaimmer - 0


1 comment:

  1. This is slightly reminiscent of Fiji. AMS, Carl, Derek and I went walking way down the beach one of the days and saw this group of kids. They were chasing a water snake through about ankle deep water and were hitting it with bottles tied to ropes. It was getting away but they finally gained on it. They ended up decapitating it. :/ It was kind of sad to see...