A Mamba in the Bushes

It was a hot afternoon the day we found a Green Mamba. Now, before I go into this story, I must explain something- Green Mambas are NOT common sights around New Hope, Uganda. Black Mambas? Yes. Green Mambas? No, because they are usually afraid of humans and detest dogs. As it is, the only Green Mambas that we ever find around here are small, six-inch snakes. Never, in my (at the time) 14 years in Uganda, had I ever seen a Green Mamba of that size.

Ok, back to the hot afternoon. The sun was shining, I was drinking a nice iced, slightly sugared coffee in my Pittsburgh Steelers tumbler. My parents were outside, sitting on a couch located on our porch. I, being the social person I was, was talking to them about some colleges they had thought about going to. Suddenly, my little sister started screaming. I ran around the corner of the porch, close to the steps up to the house, and found her, her hands over her ears. Oh, by the way, if a little sister is screaming with her hands over her ears, that usually isn’t a good sign. As such, I did what any good brother would do.

“Are you ok?”

Looking back, I realize that was a stupid question. My parents took a better, more specific route in their questions.

“What happened? Is there something in your ears?”

She shook her head no. After a few seconds, she calmed down enough to say a few words.

“There’s. . . There’s a big, green snake on the steps.”

….What? My dad and I went over to the porch steps and cautiously checked. Inexplicably, there was no snake. There was only a lone chameleon, crossing the steps. This is not an uncommon occurrence- chameleons are quite common here. We turned back to her.

“Ellie, are you sure you didn’t just see a chameleon? They are pretty long, and the tail can look like a snake.”

“No! The snake was biting the chameleon.”

We looked again. There, on the chameleon’s back right leg, was a small wound, bleeding slightly. My dad and I looked at each other. There was now no doubt that her story was true, but where was the snake?

Now, I must confess, I did not expect to find the snake where I found it. My dad and I searched the ground and trees near the steps, but nothing. We knew it was likely in a tree because Green Mambas live in trees. Despite this, we knew our chances of finding it were slim, for they blend in with the trees very well. Just as we were about to give up, I decided to double-check the bush near the steps. My dad had already looked into it, but he hadn’t found anything. So, I (being so, so stupid) put my face right next to the bush, peering inside. Sure enough, there was the snake- a big, bright green fellow with his face about six inches from mine.

If anybody had been watching me, they would have thought I had seen Satan himself (which, of course, is possible, considering Satan took the form of a snake). I sprang back and yelled for my dad, scrambling away from the bush. When snakes are THAT size, you don’t mess around. My dad yelled and called over a man who was working for us, Mr. Kabogoza. He ran over with a seven-foot pipe in his hands, ready for business. Together, we surrounded the bush, waiting for the right moment. Then, just as the snake started to leave the bush, Kabogoza swung his pipe. WHAP! He smacked the snake right out of the bush, literally sending if a dozen feet. Instantly, we were on it- I had a machete, my dad had a large walking stick, and Kabogoza had his pipe. The snake didn’t stand a chance. Head crushed and severed, it was dead.

We later measured it. It was almost seven feet long, and the brightest, most beautiful color of green I had ever seen. My sister now has a deathly fear of snakes, but I know this- if you are looking for a snake, you probably shouldn’t put your face near its face. Your nose might prove very tempting.

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