Friday, November 2, 2007

TIA – This Is Africa

I was up unusually early this morning (yesterday), because I was too agitated and pissed off to sleep! I took a walk/jog to try and rid myself of some built up excess energy. As I walk under some trees that are hanging out over the street, something drops from the tree. From the side of my vision I could see this “something” dropping, but not really what it was. Whether it was a cone, a branch or a coconut… I was incredibly alert this morning and jumped aside in pure reflex. The curious George in me wanted to know what it was though. It blended into the grass and moved… long after it should have stopped rolling or bouncing. A snake! It was a tiny little green snake. Who knows what kind and how poisonous it could be, but it was a small footstep away from landing on my shoulder.
In Norway we have a poisonous adder. It’s the only poisonous snake around, and for some people it could be no worse than a bee sting. I know though, that juvenile snakes of the kind give everything in one bite… whilst the adult snakes learn to portion out their venom. Thus, it can be worse to meet an unruly youngster than a more impressive one size wise. Size is truly not everything… and this dropping, jumping, flying marine/ amphibian snake could hardly be more than 20-30cm long… and thin and puny. Was it a tiny unruly one, old and slow, dangerous or harmless kind??? I think I will retreat from the bush into a safe and secure library to find out one of these days…
My father in law once told me that they used to climb up in the trees to pluck mangos. High up there, they used to see small green snakes all the time… really poisonous ones I remember him saying. Was it to spice up the story or were they really that dangerous I wonder now? I was impressed though, enough to remember the story now at least. I’ve been on the farm and seen those huge mango trees... and can easily imagine myself up there with jumping snakes… I’m sure my snake was the same kind!

In my more than one year now in South Africa, and several vacations before, I have seen one dead snake on the road before this. That was in a bush area close to the Mozambiquan border and far away from civilization. I knew they where hiding somewhere, but never expected one to attack me from a tree like that… It would have been more likely in the deep African jungle, but not on the streets in Pretoria?! Last week I found a tiny little scorpion on our patio. Then you know that mom and dad must be somewhere around too. I imagined the kids stepping on one on the lawn, and threw it into the braai (barbeque) coals…

TIA I’m thinking – This Is Africa! But TIA has always been a way to explain stupid, bureaucratic, slow and inefficient stuff… All the time it’s been a humoristic way (for me at least!) to make an excuse for harmless but tiresome practices. Only when a snake attacks you from a tree does TIA sort of hit you right in the face. Then you realize that this is as TIA as you can get it in the developed South Africa. All the creeps and wild animals come with the package.
Did I sign up for all this when I left Norway a year ago? The Norwegian winter is bad enough, but no deadly bugs or reptiles can survive it. The cold wipes out that factor sort of and keeps it disinfected! Maybe there is something to Norway after all? Maybe my ancestors saw something that I’ve been too blind to see before today?! Maybe there was a good reason for that great trek after all?? How could my ancestors be so stupid - when I'm so smart after all?! It does not make sense of course! This must be the reason!! Imagine what other scary creatures they had in the Cradle of Humankind back then... a T-Rex Mamba or a Megaladon Bug that is yet to be discovered and excavated maybe? No wonder they jumped that pond and over to the European side!!


hello, my name is danny. said...

aaaaahhhhhhh! i can't stand the idea of even looking at those snake pics. i would die if a snake ever fell on me let alone feet away from me.

i think i'll stick to the treadmill at the gym.

Jonny said...

Yes, either where&when Hell freezes over (that would be in Norway where these creaps can't get to you) - that would be in Norway of course... skiing or jogging, or the treadmill!!

Anonymous said...

Ihate to break this to you, but what you just described is the appearance and habitsof the green mamba, possibly one of the most poisonous snakes around :/

Very glad you moved :)

What the localsused to do when travelling, is send a woman (?) with a pot of hot mielie pap and the front of the line of travellers. The mamba senses the body heat and drops ... hopefully into the hot pot.