Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Should I be worried about a mamba?

Just like every other night, I walked through the moon-shadows of coconut palms from my house to the school to wrestle my laptop away from the students. People can usually pick out my ghostlike figure from the darkness to wish me a good night's rest, but on this particular occasion the kids were frantic with excitement. "Tams! A snake!"

As luck would have it, I keep a tiny LCD light on my keychain for emergency lockouts, or in this case, late-night snake identification. The oil stain on the road transformed into a slithering red knot when I shined my light on it, and the kids jumped back several meters. When I praised their observation skills and tried to thank them for saving me from an accident, they thought that I wanted to step on the creature.

"Do you know how to kill it?" They asked next, which I unfortunately don't. Instead I asked the same sensible question to the guards, who rose from the bench with inflated macho chests and strode over to the oil stain with heroic confidence. Their confidence deflated as soon as I shone my light on the squirming knot of venom and they realized that it's actually time to kill the viper. They retreated to find a stick, when a tiny old man appeared with a thick wooden pole and pounded the snake into a pulp. "Strange to see a snake in the cold weather," he comments as he flicked the carcass into the long grass. "This mamba can do some damage, your whole body swells up." Fascinated, I asked him if he knew how to cure snakebites, and he confirmed that he knew how to remove the teeth from the skin and how to make a poultice. He repeated the saying, "snakes are snakes," which means that they all deserve to die.

My colleagues always wondered how I could stumble around in the pitch dark, and my response was always that "I don't believe that anything will bite me." Ignorance is bliss, but from now on, I'm going to scour the ground rather than the stars when I walk at night.

Oh, and as a sidenote, the school is going through a huge upheaval. This is the six-month mark for me, and so my teammate (and jokester buddy) Johnny left. The specialization period began. Eighty new students started the school and are sleeping in the classrooms. Last Saturday two new teachers and two new foreigners arrived with their child and all moved in to the same large house, which the Mozambican family kindly evacuated by cramming into a three-room apartment. (Two people sleep in the kitchen, which is not essential when people cook on a fire outside.) Professor Profilio made me switch rooms so that he wasn't surrounded by women (although I'm sure he would have adored the opportunity). The headmaster is suspended indefinitely, blamed for complications with admitting students that didn't pass entrance exams. And two of my teammates will visit this week. We will also hold another open Saturday event before we've settled into the new routine.

Keep me posted "mum." Yes, I really am the big sister to this band of "ragamuffins."

34 comments:

Diesel said...

Yikes. We have snakes out here, but nothing that serious.

la bellina mammina said...

Thanks for visiting my blog! It's very interesting to read about your adventures - if I see a snake, I'd probably bolt as fast as I can :-)

lorenzothellama said...

I rather like snakes, but there are very few in England. It's too wet for them!

Irritable Mother said...

Wow, good thing that tiny old man could take care of the snake after the macho guards ran away!

Jocelyn said...

You reported on the snake incident with admirable pragmatism (you are descended from that tiny old man in spirit!). Maybe you need to mount your LCD light on the end of a big old stick.

Hey, you mentioned not seeing my email on my blog...I'll look for yours here and send you a message.

Steve G said...

I enjoyed the story, but am a little confused. Your profile says you are in California. You must be somewhere else, if they have Mambas there? Forgive my ignorance.

mcewen said...

Sorry about the confusion. This is my daughter's blog that I maintain for her whilst she's in Mozambique teaching Aides Awareness to teachers. She's with a non-profit.

Whilst she has internet access it is slowwww!
Cheers

cry it out! said...

Wow -- a mamba? Lucky you!

Mike

Jeanette said...

Thanks for Visiting. I have just been reading your story. YIkes!!!! Snakes!! I would have run a Mile, thank heaven the little man was nearby and beat it to a pulp...

mutleythedog said...

Snake soupis good! Did you think of that?

Zhu said...

Oh my god, that's quite a story ! I mean, I'm not scared of snakes but as long as they stay away from me !

I met with scorpions a couple of time and I wasn't so proud of the way I reacted.

The Freelance Cynic said...

There's only one poisonous snake in England. It goes by the name of Gordon Brown...

SNAKE HUNTERS said...

Worried about a Mamba? Well, perhaps you should worry more about an OBAMA.

Your profile suggests that you
like funny people. Sorry, all
I have is a Funny Face!

Fortunately my wife has poor vision; & she can cook. I guess
I'll count my blessings, she's a keeper!
>>
freelance: Check the phonebook for
Arabic names. Some Mohammed's are
loaded with venom. reb

www.lazyonebenn.blogspot.com

Sugar Smacks said...

"I'm going to scour the ground rather than the stars."

Reminds me of my lot in life lately, sir.

I am finally visiting your blog. I really like your words, so thanks for them. You visited mine months ago when I went, er, on hiatus, so to speak, and you commented there. Thanks for that too.

And hey, you read Temple Grandin. Wicked...

Sugar Smacks said...

You are not a sir...my bad.

I suppose the title of your blog could have tipped me off, heheh.

:}

Cazzie!!! said...

Wow, cannot believe you crossed paths with my blog, and now I click on yours and read this post...we only just not even 10 minutes ago found m dog "Bondi" acting all weird and barking differently and he was warning us of a big old blue tongue lizard on our pack porch. It is a decidedly hot day, very windy too and I suspect Liz just wanted to share some of Bondi's water..we have him in a big plastic bucket right now, waiting for a relative that may come pick him up. They house such things in the right environment. If not, we will release him to the river not far from here I think.

TK Kerouac said...

I love the way you write!

Mona said...

Oh Oh! That sounds like a narrow escape!

Interesting Blog! The adventures of an educator are always an exciting read! :)

david mcmahon said...

Great narration. Well done.

Liz said...

Yikes, I'd have have gone screaming! Handy to have a little old man with a stick nearby. I suppose people get used to what they're used to. (If you see what I mean!)

Rick said...

oouh - Snakes! Snakes in the dark - much worst!!

http://organizeddoodles.blogspot.com/

Rising Rainbow said...

Snakes! Eek, I hate snakes. I'm with the old guy, if it's a snake, dead is good.

Gledwood said...

Should you be worried about a mamba?!?

Yes but there's black ones and green ones and I can't remember which are deadliest!!

barb michelen said...

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david mcmahon said...

Mambo - no, you don't worry.

Mamba - yes, you worry.

Sandi McBride said...

Not worry, I'd faint on seeing it then kill it when I fell on it!
Here via David...congrats on POTD mention
Sandi

Moannie said...

Here from David's POTD, and am now a follower. Will read all your back stories too.

There was a snake in my bedroom in Cuernavaca once and JP tackled it.
I only thank the many god's of Mexico that it wasn't a spider...I would have been on the next plane out.

Gayle said...

See, I hate my snow, but I hate snakes even worse. That's why I'm stuck living where I live! Thanks for visiting me...
The White House

Shrinky said...

My goodness maddy, I turn my back for a few posts and just look at what I find! You put me to shame, I am exhausted simply reading of your latest exploits.

I can see I need to wind back a few posts to catch up on all that has been happenning here. Sounds exciting!

Carissa(GoodnCrazy) said...

Wow what a great story you have here.. I love the name of your blog!

And... no snakes for me thanks, how can you be so non-chalant about it!!

Anonymous said...

Made me smile hearing all bit and bits

Nasra Al Adawi

Indigo said...

I'm not scared of snakes, although when I live in Texas at the tender age of 16, I was out doin cross country for the high school when I saw a snake with a yellow diamond on its head, when reporting this to my coach, she said it was a venomous, so I'm glad I didn't get too close!

Scribbit said...

Great googly moogly. No snakes for me.

maryt/theteach said...

Well, Maddy, here's a side of you I didn't know about... English teacher, snake wrangler, my, my! :)