Have you ever sweated so much your sweat drops actually sweated? This experience is unique to the Amazon jungle. When you step out into the green expanse of the jungle, it is the equivalent of stepping inside a steamy sauna. The only difference is you are not on vacay and you don’t just sit there with sweat dripping down your back to clear your pores, take a refreshing shower, and dress up nice for a family dinner at a local seafood restaurant.
You do life drenched in your own salty perspiration.
In reality, the Amazon isn’t that hot temperature wise. Average highs are in the low 90s, so it’s toasty but not middle-of-the-desert-triple-digits hot. But it’s not the temps that will get you. The real threat is the humidity. It wants to drown you. So, you work up a sweat fighting to stay alive because not one of us was born with gills.
It’s as pleasant as it sounds.
One such sweat-soaked day, we were carrying on about our regular business of clearing out liquified frog remains from the showerhead and whatnot when we heard an ear-piercing scream coming from the neighbor across the way.
Richard and I both sprinted to the front porch as the screams continued, him wielding a machete in his right hand, as was customary at the time. One must be prepared in the event one may need it to chop down unwanted plant growth around the house, open a papaya for a snack, or severe the head of an unwelcomed guest (typically of the reptile species, but it would serve for anything should the need arise).
Our wooden porch wrapped around the side and front of our house, leading to a well-trodden dirt path that connected all the homes on our street. Just across from us was what some may call a creek. In actuality, it was a drain off of all the things from all the places which, not surprisingly, attracted all the creatures. Sitting right above this was a tiny green house on stilts where a single mother lived with her two small children. For the most part, things were quiet around us, except from time to time when our neighbor’s sister was in town and she had excessively rowdy parties that I cannot elaborate on because I try to keep things PG around here.
When we rounded the front of the house, we discovered our neighbor in a state of hysteria in her front yard. She was frantically calling for her vizinho (neighbor, i.e. us) to come quickly. When we finally made out what she was saying through her panic, we discovered that she had an unwelcome visitor in her home and needed assistance removing it.
Enter: machete wielding husband.
Ever brave and ever excited to encounter a new creature, Richard boldly entered the tiny wooden house as I heroically remained at the edge of the yard so that if things took a turn for the worst, one of us would remain to tell the tale to our children and children’s children for years to come.
A few minutes passed when out came my fearless husband with the snake, now in two distinct and fully separate parts, writhing and withering about. He had found it wrapped entirely around the oven in the neighbor’s small kitchen, no doubt waiting for a rodent or small child to scamper past.
He tossed said snake into the yard when moments later a collective scream was heard around the globe from the women and children present. We looked on in horror at what was happening.
Richard had very purposefully thrown the body of the snake to one side of the yard and the head (with some body (neck?) attached) to the opposite side. Now, it is completely normal for reptiles to continue to move once their spinal cord is severed. This is Animal Planet 101. But this was different.
The body of the snake and the head were LOOKING FOR ONE ANOTHER. They were like two long lost lovers desperately trying to reunite one last time before fate had her way and they were left to die alone in some Romeo and Juliet saga, jungle edition.
Richard, unwilling to let whatever voodoo magic that we were watching actually come to fruition, picked up the body of the snake at which point it promptly LUNGED AT HIM as though it still had a head. The headless, bloody body was angry and honestly who could blame it. He was hunting for his lunch when in walks a blade toting white man and boom! It’s over. As we stood with our mouths hanging open, Richard grabbed the head and slung it as far as he could into the nearby underbrush. The body continued to lash out at him, clearly displeased, and we just watched in a strange mix of disgust and curiosity as it slowed to a twitching halt.
Once our hearts returned to a normal sinus rhythm, we examined the 8-foot creature’s remains. The locals were quick to inform us that this particular snake is known to be quite vengeful. The myth goes that if someone attempts to kill it, but it escapes with its life, it will hunt that person down and seek revenge. If someone succeeds at killing it, as my husband so valiantly did, its spirit will search out its head to reattach and, again, seek retribution for the wrong for all its livelong days.
So now every time something goes wrong with our life plans, as has happened with surprising frequency, we just assume the snake is dropping reminders of the day Richard came to the rescue of our neighbor and apparently messed with the wrong serpent.
Just kidding. Sort of.