A Snake in the Grass

My grandmother always warned us against the proverbial snake in the grass. This wasn’t a lighthearted warning. She was very serious about these snakes and made sure we too understood the dangers of it. As a little girl, I obviously had no inkling and kept searching for real snakes… until about two weeks ago.

Superman and I took a short hike along the Cunene river searching for the perfect spot where he could enjoy his ice-cold beer and I take photos of the sunset setting behind the mountain. We found such a spot but soon realised that it wasn’t ideal. The wind was howling and my tripod was shaking worse than a scooter on a corrugated road. Sitting between dust and rock we quickly decided that it would be better from the safety of the deck at the lodge.

Heading back to the lodge the wind hit us full frontal and I had a mean struggle making my way over rocks against the wind. Just as I bent down to grab onto a rock for stabilisation, my eye caught movement. At barely 30cm long, I had no doubt that the black and white-painted snake in front of me, meant business. I had to make a choice and I had to make it quickly. I could either jump like wear-rabbit over the rock or grab my camera and use it as a shield against what was coming. The choice was easy. Though the photo isn’t great and a bit blurry, I got my proof. I found grandma’s snake in the grass, or Kaokoland’s version of it anyway, rocks.

©Mariette du Toit, 2019, Epupa Region

My ouma het ons altyd gewaarsku teen die spreekwoordelike slang in die gras.En dit was nie ‘n waarskuwing om ligtelik op te neem nie. O nee, Ouma het seker gemaak ons is ten volle bewus daarvan dat iets nie is soos dit moet wees nie. As kind, het ek altyd die letterlike slang gesoek en kon net nooit die dekselse ding kry nie.

Tot so twee weke terug.

Ek en Superman het ‘n ent langs die Kunene gaan stap – hy om ‘n mooi plekke te kry om sy yskoue bier te geniet, ek om foto’s te neem. Die wind het ons deurmekaar gewaai en ek het vinnig besef dat foto’s ook nie gaan gebeur nie – my drie-poot het gebewe soos ‘n ou omie se kierie as hy die bank bestuurder moes gaan sien. Ons het toe maar ons drankies so tussen die stof en die klippe probeer geniet met ons oë op die pragtige valle voor ons.

Met die omdraai het die wind reg van voor gekom en ons moes steier-steier oor die klippe beur. Dis toe ek so oor die een klip strompel dat ek amper aan die slangetjie vat. Skaars 30cm lank het hy soos ‘n ware reptiel gereageer en my stip in die oë gekyk. Met die onmiskenbare skakerings van wit en swart oor hom geverf, het ek voor ‘n keuse gestaan… of ek spring soos ‘n dassie oor die klip en hoop vir die beste, of ek gryp my kamera en gebruik dit as beskerming teen my oë. Die kamera het natuurlik gewen en hier dan so vinnige foto van ouma se slang tussen die gras… of dan, Kaokoland se weergawe daarvan, klippe.

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