Monday, September 3, 2012

How to Kill a Poisonous Snake (Tanzanian Style)

Here at Language School, we generally have a “cultural session” after chai (tea) on Fridays.  The idea is that language is culture, and culture is language.  So having informative classes on both aspects of life here is critical to forming relationships and having a positive presence in the country. 

Last week Thursday, however, some little friends decided to switch things up a bit.  We were in the middle of learning the past, present, and future negative tenses of “to be” when one of the other teachers poked his head in and said it was time for an impromptu cultural session (aka teachable moment).  Turns out that a couple of snakes had decided to sun themselves near our classrooms in the trees, and the guards wanted us to watch as they killed them so that we’d know what to do.  Curious, we filed out of the classroom and down the path to where the guards were waiting.  Much to our chagrin, they told us that we had just walked past both snakes without even realizing it.  Ok, they were in the tree and looked like mangled branches.  But it took me quite a while to spot them even when someone was pointing them to me.  Yikes!

Here’s the process, in 7 easy-to-follow steps to killing any poisonous snake that might come your way.

1. Find snake.  Recognize it’s not just a branch.  Determine if it’s actually poisonous (ok, it probably is), if it's aggressive (most here, I've heard, are not), and if it’s the spitting kind (thankfully, these were not).

2. Tell the guards or guys around you (ok, this might just be my own idea… but it seems like a good one!) and help them find large sticks and rocks they can throw.

3. Huddle around far enough away that when the snake drops and if it’s not dead yet, it won’t get you.  Have camera ready to take pictures of guys beating snake with large sticks, throwing rocks, and creating quite a ruckus.

4. Ensure snake is dead by stomping on its head with your heel.  (Hmm, sounds Biblical somehow…)  Then deposit snakes for inspection, and watch as they continue to wriggle around.  Gross.

5. Side Note: This is a good opportunity to check and see if any of the snakes recently had lunch.  And if so, to remove the rather large lizard with your cool knife.  Did I mention gross?

6. Move snakes to a place where all the 3 through 12 year-old boys on the campsite won’t want to play with them.  (Realized a bit too late, unfortunately.)

7. Attempt to go back to learning verb tenses in classroom banda. :)

1 comment: