Due to some defect in an otherwise impeccable upbringing, I am not a lover of snakes, not even a liker. So when I returned the other evening to a snake hanging out outside my door I told him or her with my usual authority that I would prefer he or she carry on their business of eating other animals elsewhere. I then remembered that snakes are deaf.
At another place I stayed there was a hardy young South African who would pick up the snakes by the tail and generally mess with their heads, until they became so distraught they decided of their own accord to move on. By hardy, I mean he thought nothing of spending a month in deep Masailand with the Masai tribesmen when his bus broke down somewhere in north western Tanzania, and while hitchhiking in dark places had been shot at multiple times with weapons of multiple calibers. Despite his hardiness, he did seem somewhat grateful to still be alive.
But the snakes in Madagascar are, poor souls, “back-fanged”, which means apparently that they are “effectively non-venomous”. So when one of these back-fanged sissies appears outside where I am eating, I do not, as a result, feel the need to hurry through my meal. If I was in Africa on the other hand, I certainly would move to finish my meal without delay.
Up to now my most intimate encounters with snakes have been with snake soup in China. A winter dish that warms their spirits, it was frequently served by potential business partners in the hope of lubricating a deal. Personally I prefer my deals unlubricated by snake soup, but can only wonder at the excellent deals that must be done by those extremely well-lubricated deal-doers who also drink the snake’s blood before the rest of the snake is put in the pot.
My attempts to take pictures of snakes at night (when they appear) without a flash (in the interests of travelling light I did not bring one) were hopelessly unsuccessful. So instead a picture of some local old-style river transport:
and some local wildlife on a road out of Maroantsetra:
and a woman who appeared to be the mother of at least some of them getting her hair done. This was an unusually nice place with a tin roof (most roofs are thatch) and a real door.