AN EXTRA NIGHT IN THE JUNGLE
We have been doing a series of 2 hour flights in a small Cesna plane to get further into the Amazon, landing on small mud and compacted earth strips cut like zippers out of the forest. Our local contact, a Texan called John, who lives out here, told us to make it back to our base we had to be finished and read to go at 4pm. At 3:50 we packed up and said “Let’s go.” “Of course this is far too late to leave” he said. “The pilot thinks it’s too dangerous to fly now and so you will have to stay at camp.” This was no small problem as it meant missing my flight to Sao Paulo and then back to London. But the pilot left us and we were more or less stranded.
John drove us a little way out of the forest into a small village to sort some things out. On the way back, he stopped the car abruptly and jumped out shouting “rattle snake.” There was indeed a snake in the road. I was all for taking a photo and moving on.
John decided to jump on the snake and then tried to strangle it with his bare hands. He started shouting a us that this was a very dangerous snaked, not a rattler but something else entirely and he wanted to bring it back to camp so he could “show his people”. I haven’t killed it, just stunned it, he said.
At this point I rather let the side down by screaming at him that there was no way he was going to bring a snake into the car whilst I was in it. Things got a little heated as I then locked him out of his car, and leapt into the lap of the woman sitting next to me. She spoke no English and I didn’t really know who she was. She may now think it a quaint English greeting instead of shaking hands to sit on a strangers lap shouting obscenities at your host.
John quietly explained to me I was not going to stop him getting into his own car, and it was me or the snake and as far as he was concerned the snake won.
Back at base, although I couldn’t understand the language, it was clear they all found the story of the scared Englishman, highly amusing. After showing everyone the snakes poisonous fangs. John killed it and said he would cook it later. In the end the camp dog managed to get hold of the snake and chomped on it. As a result John threw the remainder to the crocodile which was wallowing in the river 100 meters away. This is called the River of Death, John explained
John seemed a nice man, when he wasn’t killing snakes. But over dinner he told us remarkably off hand stories about wrestling an alligator once when he was drunk and getting bitten in the arm and fighting local bandits.
I am well and truely ready to come home and wrestle with the troubles of London Transport.