Well… I knew it would happen sooner or later. I knew that at some point I would encounter my first snake here in Mozambique. I was just hoping for two things. First, that it would not be inside my house. Secondly, that it would be later… much, much later!
I am thankful and pleased to say that “No”, it did not happen inside my house. Well, unless you count your garage as part of your home. In this case, I guess it was technically in my house. And unfortunately for me, it happened sooner rather than later.
On a recent Saturday, I headed out my kitchen door into the garage to put a load of wash into my washing machine. As my foot hit the cement floor, my attention was drawn to a 2 foot “snake” slithering about 3 feet in front of me in a direct line for me! I turned back to the kitchen door and screamed first for Don, and next for Jack (our Jack Russell Terrier who you may recall killed the neighbor’s monkey when we first got here. The caretaker of our home also tells us that he killed a cobra on the property.) I guess in my subconscious mind, I first called the long time, ever faithful male protector of our family. Then knowing we were in African territory, I called for the new male protector of our family who had experience in dealing with such creatures! Both Don and Jack came running at the same time.
By the way, I should insert that our other faithful terrier Rusty was there too. He was first on the scene and had come out the door with me. He was a bit tentative, sizing up the situation. As Rusty contemplated what to do, Jack came … not sure what verb to use here to give you a good picture of this… ripping… no… screaming through the garage at full speed from my left. Without hesitation, he snatched the “snake” up in his mouth at its midpoint, swung his head from side to side so violently that the “snake” literally ripped in half! Blood spewed everywhere- all over Jack, the floor, and the front of Don’s car. Half of the carcass flew under Don’s car, and Jack ran off to the front yard with the other half as his prize. Don, Will (who by now had joined us to see what the excitement was about), and I cheered and praised Jack for his quick moves.
You may wonder why I keep putting the word “snake” in quotations. This is because we are not sure what it was. It was gray and scaly like a snake, but it did not have a defined head or eyes like a snake. It almost resembled a gray worm with scales. The scales and the size of it (at least as thick as a big man’s thumb and 2 feet long) made us think it was a snake. Yet its head was nothing like a snake. Just the night previous, our dog Jack had left a prize on our doormat for us. It resembled a gray, shriveled up snake. But we were not sure, because again it didn’t have a snake head. But it did have scales. We asked around and were told by locals that this creature is more of a worm thing than a snake…whatever that means. This was confirmed for us when the next day Jack left us another present on our outside door mat. When we opened the door, we found a dead snake left on the mat. This was definitely a snake. It had the triangular head and eyes of a snake. So maybe the locals are right. Maybe I should change the title of this blog from “My Inaugural African ‘Snake’ Experience” to “My Inaugural African Worm Experience”. But then again, would that really capture anyone’s interest? I have always taught my students to use a catchy title to grab their reader’s attention and make them want to read their story. So I guess I should stick with the original title as is!