You probably have one of two reactions on seeing the title of this post – in fact I’m pretty certain some won’t even have got beyond the title and the featured image. Others will read this nervously, hopefully others will be genuinely interested without prejudice.
In the almost two years I have been here I have not yet seen a live snake in the wild. Indeed until this past month not even a dead one though sadly I have more recently.
At 7:30 am yesterday that all changed returning to the compound after an early morning drop off We found the guards agitated. They had found a poisonous snake in the watch mans shed – it had just digested a rat.
They were convinced it was poisonous and deadly and wanted to kill it. We were less convinced and wanting proof of it’s supposed deadliness I posters picture on the Facebook Group -East African Snakes and other Reptiles. I had a response within 10 minutes. It’s turns out not to be a black mamba, not venomous at all, harmless (unless you’re a rat) brown house snake.
This animal is a constrictor and very good pest controller. Even posting this faction Facebook did not assuage my snake fearing friends – “kill it”, “ew gross”, “yuk” and the like. I for one am glad that we forced the guards to let it slither away to keep the rat population down.
Today, weirdly was a Bank Holiday in the last week of term. The weather was hot and sunny, much as it has been all week. So after a lazy morning, we went for a swim in the pool. A great way to spend an afternoon.
This evening a number of colleagues from across the compound gathered together for a Compound Curry. We each brought different dishes which we shared, including homemade Samosas, Naan and Chapattis. A great pre-Christmas evening before we all head out our separate ways in the holidays. For us it will be Zanzibar, for others Moshi and Arusha near Kilimanjaro, whilst others are travelling further afield into Rwanda. Even got to taste my first Mince Pie of the year.
It was loud! Very loud! And it was coming from nearby on the compound. As I rapidly ascended from deep sleep to wakefulness I really couldn’t explain it. All I knew was that it was loud. Then as I gained consciousness I realised it was a roaring sound, like a jet. It was pitch black I could see nothing, but the roar persisted. It sounded like something rushing out of a pipe. Was it gas I feared? If so then an explosion might follow. Maybe it was steam or water? I followed the sound – it was definitely outside; not inside. Still sleepy I switched on the light and fumbled for shorts and a T-shirt. As I found my sandals, the sound suddenly stopped. Even so I was dressed now and wide awake so I left the house and followed the path to the centre of the compound. There outside a colleague’s house they were gathered. Other colleagues blearily staring through the gloom, gazing at the site, and the family displaced for the moment from their house. The house where it had happened. Around the outside of the Askaris gathered around the site which once was an external water heater – the heater had exploded in the night and the sound we had heard was a jet of water escaping from the damaged pipes.
After a few moments of chat we then returned to our beds – it was 4am.
As I walked back along the path I glanced up at the stars above – expecting to see new unfamiliar patterns, instead I glimpsed The Plough and Orion. Familiar constellations in a foreign land. I went back to sleep.It had been a rude awaking!