Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Dear snake

This happened about two weeks ago, when we were driving back home from Córdoba. Most of you will find it uninteresting, but I feel it was something important to me...

Like every other time we have done that journey, we stopped to have our picnic lunch on a wooded spot just off the divided highway to Madrid.
This place is close to Venta de Cárdenas train station (province of Jaén), in the vicinity of Despeñaperros Natural Park. I like that location because it's very quiet there, and you can always find a good shade for the car. The rail tracks are just a few metres away (although you have to climb a quite steep slope in order to get there), so every time I visit the place I take the chance to leave a couple of coins on the track, with the hope of finding them on a future visit, flattened by a train's wheels. So far I have found most of them; they're good for nothing but I find it thrilling :) The thing is, I will no longer be able to do it, as on this occasion I found, to my utter dismay, that a fence had been erected to prevent wild animals (and me) from getting to the tracks. But I didn't want to go without having a final look, so I inspected the area in search of a hole or something. Climbing was out of the question (I'm too fat for the fence, poor thing), but I found a place where the ground was uneven and there was enough space under the fence for me to cross. So I lay on my back and crawled under the fence. Ouch! Suddenly I noticed that there were brambles all over the place. Finally I managed to get in and climbed to the top. The effort had been worth it, as I had found one coin. When I was about to descend, it happened. There it was, staring at me in a fierce way, less than one meter away from me. It was a snake, the biggest I had ever seen (I could say it measured about one meter long, and its diameter at the thickest part seemed to be about 5 centimeters), with two dark stripes running along its light brown back. To me, the most surprising thing was the fact that it didn't seem to have the slightest intention of slithering away, as any other snake I had come across to date had done. It was challenging me, but I didn't feel like responding to the challenge. After all, I didn't know whether it was a venomous snake or a harmless one, so I opted for the safest option: running away. Before doing so, I talked to the creature in a sweet and soothing voice, in an effort to calm the snake —it looked stressed :)— and make it remain where it was. Luckily the jolly fellow agreed to my requests and didn't try to hunt me down, so I retreated slowly and made for the fence. It had been exhilarating!! I was excited and thrilled; it had been my first "dangerous" encounter with a wild animal, and it felt so good! In fact, later I found out that the animal that had challenged me was an adult Ladder Snake (Rhinechis scalaris). They can bite you, but they're not venomous... Thank God it hadn't bitten me: I would have gone mad!

Together with exhilaration, I felt deep inside me a close connection with nature; suddenly I realized that I was forgetting the place where I come from, a small village in the countryside, not in the middle of the woods but teeming with wildlife such as birds and small animals. It had been quite a while since I had last had a close look at a living wild thing; life in the city no longer allows me to do that as often as I would like. I hope this situation will change in the future...

To make our day perfect, when we were about to depart, a couple of jays came very close to the car. Most probably it was a mother and her offspring, as the latter seemed to harass the former in a demanding way, cawing as it flew about. I love these colourful birds! Finally we set off. I was feeling utterly happy.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I think you love nature so why didn't you choose studying Biology?

  3. Too technical for my liking :)

  4. . . . With hopes you continue them.