About a year ago, one of my good friends and I were dreaming about her and her daughter traveling to South Africa one day to visit us. She said, “Can you promise me that I won’t see a snake?” Uh, negatory. First of all, what is it with people associating Africa with snakes? They don’t just dwell on the African plains. North America is home to rattlesnakes, something you don’t want to have an encounter with. Unfortunately, this post isn’t going to help any preconceived ideas about Africa.
Let’s just talk about snakes.
I moved to South Africa in 2007. I had been on numerous trips prior to moving there, but my first month was quite the experience. My whole family, with the exception of my son, got bit by a mango fly which burrowed its larvae into our skin. Gross, I know. A monkey was found perched on the door to our security gate in our kitchen, probably looking for food, because that’s what those annoying vervet monkeys do. And then there was the snake. I’ll never forget it. I walked into our bathroom to see something curled up in the window. At the sound of my intrusion, it fell to the ground in my bedroom. I screamed, ran behind the door, and cracked it slightly so I could see where the darn thing went. I called the gardener to come and get it. Its fate was sealed as soon as he whacked it with a shovel.
I wish I could say that was my only encounter with a snake since living here, but sadly that would be lying. A friend and I were once sitting on a rock outside talking when a cobra reared its ugly head up at us and flared its hood. We both screamed. Thankfully, instead of spitting, our cries were enough to scare it away.
Twice I’ve found a snake in my house. The second time, I thought my son was playing a joke on me. I bent to pick up what I was sure was a plastic snake, only for it to move. Guess what I did? Scream, of course. Its fate was sealed when my husband came running with the broom. Several smashings and a broken broom later, and we had ourselves a dead snake. Another one bit the dust.
Then there was the time that my son came running into the house, “Mom! A snake just ran over my foot!” What? He said it like it was the coolest thing in the world. Not cool, my boy. Not cool.
I know this is painting an image of Africa that I try so hard to diffuse. Perhaps it is good and right to associate snakes with the African plains. Well, you can take comfort in the fact that snake bites, although they happen, are infrequent. They usually say that snakes are more scared of us than we are of them. I believe it except when it comes to the black mamba. That’s the one snake I will forever be scared of and keep a distance from.
So…who wants to come visit me in South Africa??
PS: Sorry for all the “dead snake on a broom” photos. When one encounters a snake, one doesn’t usually think to grab the camera to get a shot. That thought only comes after the victory. At least, that’s how this one thinks.