Snake in the Dirt

The households in my village keep their property free of any grass. I consider it a negative lawn. Although you may think that this option would be carefree, it actually takes quite a bit of work. Cutting the grass and watering is replaced with plant removal and grading, especially after the rain makes mini ruts and gullies. Unexpectedly, raking is even a daily routine with the dirt lawn. It turns out that this landscaping choice has a practical aspect in addition to any aesthetic value that has been attached to it. The function is to remove any hiding spots for snakes or any other unwanted critters or at least make it easy to spot them.

Up until now, I was not too convinced this technique was actually needed any more since I had not seen any snakes or anything remotely threatening (ants excluded). Then again maybe the lawn was doing it's duty extra well. The latter idea was given more credence the other day when I spotted my first snake. It was just a juvenile and there was something clearly wrong with it because it wandered into the yard amidst all the bustle of the morning chores and animals and it was moving slow enough to be covered with ants. The host family seemed extra frightened of it but this is understandable because there are some notoriously venomous snakes in this country. And although I would love to say it was a black mamba to give me some herpetologist street-cred, I am fairly certain it was a non-venomous snake.

Anyone good at identifying snakes? It is hard to tell but it has a round head and had orange coloring on the side of its head. So far I have narrowed it down to not python and not black mamba

Surprisingly, the snake was not killed but was shuffled into a nearby cow pasture and soon forgotten. Later that day, as I was dumping water into the very same pasture, I noticed the snake was still there albeit much more desiccated. My immediate reaction was to go poke it. Upon investigation, I found it to be extremely dead and was pleased with my find. I now have it is a souvenir in my room despite the possibility that something toxic caused this snake an early termination. It has already proven itself to be full of entertainment because I scared the bejesus out of my host sister the very same day it was discovered. You know the set-up. You pretend like you found something interesting but you keep it concealed until your victim gets close. Then you scream and pretend like the snake is lunging at the person's jugular to inject lethal poison. Classic!

The sun really did a number on this snake. It was probably 8 feet long before it dried out. I am lying.

The price of this ruse is that I have firmly pushed myself even more into the utterly bizarre with my host family. Moreover, when they asked why I was keeping the snake, I felt they didn't quite accept my answer of “I think it is interesting”. I hope they don't think I am trying to undercut the family sangoma that has put up a her shingle next door with my own form of medicine. I'm confident they'll see I have no interest in this but I have to make sure I don't flaunt my Namibian baboon skull for a couple of days.

The best and only paperweight I own. So if you were planning on buying me one...don't.

Socks and Underwear: Snake in the Dirt

Monday, November 29, 2010

Snake in the Dirt

The households in my village keep their property free of any grass. I consider it a negative lawn. Although you may think that this option would be carefree, it actually takes quite a bit of work. Cutting the grass and watering is replaced with plant removal and grading, especially after the rain makes mini ruts and gullies. Unexpectedly, raking is even a daily routine with the dirt lawn. It turns out that this landscaping choice has a practical aspect in addition to any aesthetic value that has been attached to it. The function is to remove any hiding spots for snakes or any other unwanted critters or at least make it easy to spot them.

Up until now, I was not too convinced this technique was actually needed any more since I had not seen any snakes or anything remotely threatening (ants excluded). Then again maybe the lawn was doing it's duty extra well. The latter idea was given more credence the other day when I spotted my first snake. It was just a juvenile and there was something clearly wrong with it because it wandered into the yard amidst all the bustle of the morning chores and animals and it was moving slow enough to be covered with ants. The host family seemed extra frightened of it but this is understandable because there are some notoriously venomous snakes in this country. And although I would love to say it was a black mamba to give me some herpetologist street-cred, I am fairly certain it was a non-venomous snake.

Anyone good at identifying snakes? It is hard to tell but it has a round head and had orange coloring on the side of its head. So far I have narrowed it down to not python and not black mamba

Surprisingly, the snake was not killed but was shuffled into a nearby cow pasture and soon forgotten. Later that day, as I was dumping water into the very same pasture, I noticed the snake was still there albeit much more desiccated. My immediate reaction was to go poke it. Upon investigation, I found it to be extremely dead and was pleased with my find. I now have it is a souvenir in my room despite the possibility that something toxic caused this snake an early termination. It has already proven itself to be full of entertainment because I scared the bejesus out of my host sister the very same day it was discovered. You know the set-up. You pretend like you found something interesting but you keep it concealed until your victim gets close. Then you scream and pretend like the snake is lunging at the person's jugular to inject lethal poison. Classic!

The sun really did a number on this snake. It was probably 8 feet long before it dried out. I am lying.

The price of this ruse is that I have firmly pushed myself even more into the utterly bizarre with my host family. Moreover, when they asked why I was keeping the snake, I felt they didn't quite accept my answer of “I think it is interesting”. I hope they don't think I am trying to undercut the family sangoma that has put up a her shingle next door with my own form of medicine. I'm confident they'll see I have no interest in this but I have to make sure I don't flaunt my Namibian baboon skull for a couple of days.

The best and only paperweight I own. So if you were planning on buying me one...don't.

4 Comments:

Blogger presco said...

Well I'm glad you posted this before I shipped the skull I had for you off to SA. Darn, now I'll have to find you another present!

November 30, 2010 at 6:29 AM  
Blogger mrpresco said...

Mom tried to do something similar over thanksgiving except the move didnt involve a snake or jugulars. Instead it was the classic jump-around-the-stairs-and-yell routine. How did it go you ask? Mom was unfortunately introduced to my karate chop which I developed over many years of living with you. While I am sorry (really sorry!) that is what happens when you play with fire (again, sorry mom !!!!!!)

November 30, 2010 at 1:09 PM  
Blogger presco said...

Yeah I have a huge back and blue to prove it!!! I'm not sorry, it was totally worth it!!! It was very funny!!

November 30, 2010 at 1:27 PM  
Blogger Noah Prescott said...

@presco - Good thing indeed. I suppose I could have found some sort of use for another skull though.

That's right never feel bad about sneak attack scares--no regrets! Additionally, I like that you called a bruise a 'black and blue'.

@mrpresco - I am extremely pleased that your reflexes are still sharp. Sounds like Thanksgiving was great even though you karate chopped Mom.

November 30, 2010 at 2:48 PM  

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