“Isa! Samake! Dinka!” Mariama skipped the usual morning greetings as she excitedly told me about a big snake.
“Doke,” she said with a pointing finger. I gritted my teeth and scrunched my face while shaking my head to show I wasn’t a fan.
“Ma laahi samake.”
“Samake karra,” she said sticking out her tongue and slitting her throat with her finger. This motion is done any time they tell me something has died, even if it’s a person. Relieved the big snake was dead, curiosity took over; I wanted to see what is considered a big snake in Africa. I was not prepared for what I saw…
The snake was bigger than big. Its length was well over my height. I’m guessing it was a good 10 feet or so… definitely the size of a snake that belongs in a zoo. As I took in the size of the samake dinka in front of me, I couldn’t help but wonder where in the world it was found. Asking, I found out it was captured and killed near the mosque. Where’s the mosque? Right behind my house! Oh, dear Lord, please help me…
Snapping a few quick photos, I had to be on my way so I wouldn’t be late for the 8:20 start of school. The energy that was created in the morning from seeing the snake was carried throughout the day as I observed in classrooms and realized how much work I have to do. Contemplating how to introduce alternative methods of discipline, I made my way home. My night was like any other until I went in for bed.
Needing to reflect on all I had seen that day, I sat down to journal in my dimly lit hut. Just as I was recording the size of the phython-wanna-be-anaconda snake I had seen that day, I saw something move out of the corner of my eye. Frightened, I shined my headlamp in the direction of the movement. I’m not sure what the noise was that came from me, but I was sure that I saw a mouse. I flew off my chair and ran for the front door.
Now, I know that I am much bigger than a mouse, and I shouldn’t be afraid of them, but those suckers are fast and their movement is completely unpredictable. Thus, I went to find my host father to take care of the job. He was no where to be found, but luckily I ran into Mohamed, a 24 year old and one of the only 3 English speakers in my compound. He came in with an attempt to save the day, but the mouse was smart and ran behind my bookcase into a hole and out of reach.
Exiting my hut with Mohamed, he said we could try again in the morning, and that he hoped I could sleep through the night. Offering him no reassurance, I slowly entered my hut, cautious of where I stepped. I could feel the presence of the mouse, and quickly gained sight of it once more. It was on my chair! “Okay, that does it,” I thought to myself. The mouse was crawling up my stuff, and I’d had enough. Reciting, “I’m a big girl,” in my mind, I developed a plan.
I noticed the mouse would take off anytime light was shined in its direction. Turning off the lights, I hopped on my bed (for some reason I felt safer up there), propped open my back door with my bamboo stool and waited. Sure enough, the little stinker snuck out the back, and I shut the door behind him with a feeling of triumph.
As I tucked my mosquito netting around my bed, I couldn’t help but to laugh at myself. It had been quite the day. My giggles soon faded as it dawned on me… snakes eat mice. Saying an extra prayer, I was able to drift off, ready to take on whatever Africa had in store for me next.