We’ve know this moment was coming. We knew that we were moving to the jungle and snake encounters were to some extent unavoidable. It is not like this is the first one we’ve seen……..In fact, we’ve seen bigger snakes than the one I am about to tell you about and we’ve seen poisonous snakes – the one I am about to tell you about isn’t. So, what’s the big deal? For starters, this is the first one that I’ve walked up to and killed with a machete.

After a long day in La Ceiba (about an hour away) getting groceries and getting the car worked on and all of the tiring things that we do on “our trip to town” each week, we returned right at dusk to find this guy crawling along our driveway. I keep a machete in my car for just such an occasion and I’ve gone through the steps a million times in my mind. Open the back door (it is never locked in my imaginations – this will be important in a minute) and pull out the machete and then walk up to the snake and chop its head off. Easy, right? I wasn’t expecting my first snake to be quite this big. I was so excited/scared/nervous that I jumped out of the car – not wanting to loose sight of the snake – and pulled on the back door. Locked. Ok, take it easy, reach in through the OPEN WINDOW and unlock the door. I fumbled around with the lock in a manner that would have made Jerry Lewis proud and finally got the door opened and withdrew the machete without hurting myself or anyone else. Step one. Now comes the part that I hadn’t really imagined correctly when I had previously gone through it in my mind. You have to walk up to the snake. They don’t make these machetes nearly long enough. I would gladly buy a ten footer if I could a) find one and b) swing it. As it is, my machete requires that I get within three feet or so of the thing before swinging – and I bought the longest one I could find. So, I’m sitting there looking at the snake, and he is looking at me and I decide that there is only one thing for it, I’m going to have to walk up there and kill it. My son is watching for crying out loud. My wife is watching too, but she is long since over any notions of my heroism. My son, however, at seven years old still thinks that his dad is pretty cool. I’ve got a reputation to protect.

Did I mention that this particular snake was big? He wasn’t coiled up in such a way that you couldn’t see how long he was. He was stretched out there for the whole world to see. It seemed like I would have to take a couple of steps past his tail before I could get in a good enough position to make the kill. Does anyone else see a problem with this? Past the tail? Isn’t that bad?

This is the part where I have to be honest. Boas aren’t a particularly aggressive snake. Nor are the poisonous. The fact is that he was positively meandering away from me and he very politely raised his head, trying to crawl over a very short concrete wall, and almost framed the shot for me. It was as if he was saying, “ok, swing now”. And swing I did. Since his head was against concrete and since I swung like Gimli swinging his axe, the machete hitting the concrete had a positively “Lord of the Rings” kind of ring to it. His head must have sailed two feet in the other direction.

More honesty. I was flooded with such great relief and energy from having killed my first snake here in the jungle that I did a Rocky (“Adrianne, ADRIENNE”) kind of dance around the snake and the truck. When I think of it now, I am a bit embarrassed. My wife laughs openly at me when she thinks of it. When I finally stopped dancing, I noticed that the snake was still moving (they do that) and the head was still moving (didn’t know that they did that). I touched the head with my machete and the snake head BIT IT! File that for future reference, the head can and will still bite long after it has been liberated from the body. It is creepy to see and feel the body moving – but the body doesn’t have a head any more. It can only creep you out. The head can still ruin your day.

YouTube video of the head chewing on the machete here. (mildly gross)

Last thing. I’ve actually regretted killing this creature quite a bit since doing so. I know that we are not supposed to kill them, that they are essentially harmless and that they eat bad things like rats and other poisonous snakes. But, I just hate snakes so much that I felt like I needed to kill anything even closely resembling a snake that I saw here. When I reflect on how docile this guy was, and how he could really help us out around here by eating big rats (yes we have them too) – I guess I felt kind of well, bad, about killing it. I’m genuinely surprised at this. I guess I was so concerned about being brave enough to kill it that I didn’t stop to think (big lesson there). Maybe step one is being brave enough to kill it and step two is being brave enough to not kill the next one. Hmmm…. going to have to think on that one some more. This DOES NOT apply to poisonous snakes, nor should it. But Boas, I think, deserve some more thought. Anyway, hope you enjoy the pictures and the video.

God Bless! DF