previous page
next page
The last night my wife spent in our house in Belize, just before she gave birth to our daughter, we were together packing a bag for her to be sure she would have it ready on hand when the time to head for the hospital arrived. The required toiletries and clothing were included, for knew that when we made the mad dash that parents must make when it's time for the really big show, we wanted to be sure that we were prepared.

Pregnant to the point that the due date for delivery was almost at hand, as she fumbled about with the knapsack she suddenly noticed a three foot long snake inside our bush camp house sitting on a window seal. The snake was less than two feet from where she found herself at that moment, uncomfortably squatting as she decided what she would need in the weeks ahead.

If you knew my wife you too would understand she has few fears. She has had bullets flying over her head in the streets of the capital city of Phnom Penh, she orchestrated my eye to eye conversation with President Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, she has walked nonchalantly up to the gates of Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega down in Nicaragua, and she was the person that found Ronnie Biggs once considered the number one fugitive for the government of the United Kingdom dubbed 'the great train robber' when he was still living life on the run in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. To put it mildly, the woman has a clear head and does not blink in the face of a dangerously challenging situation.

However, we both discovered a hidden fear of my wife when we made our move to Belize. Not until we were living in our house did I ever realize that the love of my life harbours an absolute real time terror for snakes. In fact, as I would learn that particular evening, when she has nightmares they almost always center around an encounter of some sort with a snake. So, to say the least, she was almost out of her mind with fear when she came eye to eye with this reptile in the place we call home.

As she screamed, I jumped from my regularly scheduled position swinging away the evening in my hammock on the front porch in order to come to see what the commotion was all about. Now I have to admit that I have very little admiration for a snake, but I understand they do alot of well founded rodent control that is needed if you plan to live your life in the heart of the jungle. Sure we face off regularly with scorpions and tarantulas on a daily basis, and luckily my son has a great eye for pointing them out. But when a snake comes into the house where my pregnant wife and young son and I bed down for the night, well I have to react accordingly.

With this in mind, since the last time we had an uninvited reptile several months prior on the screened in porch, we now keep a shovel close at hand, just in case. And so with the snake closely resembling a tree branch that in actuality was poised to strike, I knew I had only one shot. Using the shovel that allowed me at least four feet of required and recommended distance, I chopped it into two pieces, severing the head from the body, and that was that.

To be sure that I knew what type of a snake I had just killed, I put the pieces in a plastic bucket and took them to two separate neighbours in our village. Independent of each other they both confirmed my worst fears, it was indeed the lethal and deadly Yellow Jaw Tommy Goff(link to the old article). As I returned to my wife with the report of what we had faced in hand, I was hoping things at home might have settled and that she had put the ordeal to rest. But she met me under the thatch of our garage champa. As I confirmed her fears as to the type of snake that had made an unwelcome visitor, we sat down on the wooden bench next to the truck.

Together we discussed the 'what ifs' of a snakebite, specifically that of a venomous snake such as the Yellow Jaw. This is important in light of the fact that this last episode was not the first time we had seen a snake as I had mentioned, and surly, it would not be the last. We decided then and there we had to always have an emergency plan of action since we lived no less than nine miles to the nearest hospital, and so together we formed one that night just before the sun was to set upon another day.

The reality of life in the bush villages of Belize as well as some of the towns, snakes are real. We had long ago learned that rain in the rainforest must be top keep things so green and tropical. And although the lightening strikes during the southern storms often come too close for comfort, awakening those lost in dreams and slumber only to be brought right out of the nothingness of unconsciousness by strikes in the yard, life in the forest is wonderful.

When it comes down to the realities we all face with deadly snakes in the tropics, the truth of the matter is that most locals in the remote areas rely upon buses to connect them from their homes to the markets in the townships. The bus schedules in places like the Toledo District run Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. They come by early in the morning and return the villagers to their homes usually by noon.

So in the case of a snakebite, in Belize when you have little or no way to reach a hospital in the required time that many say is less than one hour, health matters. That's the reasoning behind why most folks I know turn to their local village bush doctor. It may not be the science of the so-called developed world but when was the last time you heard of a Yellow Jaw Tommy Goff that can jump at least four feet to connect with that which it perceives to be the enemy was seen within striking distances in downtown Los Angeles, Paris, or Vienna??


Table of Content

previous page
next page