Twenty-Four

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Arriving

Sometimes we can do nothing worth to mention in 24 hours, while other times we can do a lot. These 24 hours were action packed.

 

We left to Bilene without booking. In our suitcases, just a touch of adventure spirit. Andy was our driver, in my opinion the best in the world. Maputo to Bilene is not a long stretch, the question is always the intensity of the light and the abrasive temperature. We just stop twice for petrol and cashew nuts.

 

Bilene is a small charming village close to a blue lagoon connected to the sea, ideal for nautical activities such as speed-boating, canoeing and jet-skiing. The place has a problem do: when the influx of water coming from the sea is not strong, the lagoon smells terribly bad.

 

Our interest in the lagoon was only crossing it at the highest speed possible, once our objective was on the hills of the other side, the ones that separate the lagoon from open sea. There, on the hills, the small disperse wood buildings of a simple and inviting lodge were expecting for us.

 

Snake

Initially we had planned two days in Bilene, reserving the first to exploit the area and the second for lagoon activities. In my opinion, Bilene is not a good place for diving or snorkeling because the lagoon is a little murky, while the sea is too strong and brings back memories of a sad episode involving sharks.

 

We start our weekend making ourselves comfortable in a spacious cabin. As the boys are starving, we opted for heading to the balcony used as dining room, the most agreeable and fresh restaurant-varanda that I know so far. As after lunch Paul and Andy wanted to sleep for a while, I had to recur to a comfort zone in such solitary moments: the swimming pool. JP, my swimming pool companion, is now in Durban, so I have to “soak” alone in the clear blue water for a couple of hours. After half an hour, I am so hand-wrinkled that I have to keep both hands out of the water.

 

Since I own an iPod I’ve discovered the craziest places to carry it. For instance, when I am inside the swimming pool and I feel like music, I can put it somewhere in my hat. Now imagine that I am completely alone, in the process of discovering that some tunes sound particularly well inside the pool. Comprehensibly, I cannot react fast if I feel something around my body because there’s a sound cable coming from my hat down. Yet, if the pressure becomes a little strange and viscous, one is forced to look down and perhaps find the unexpected. Maybe attracted by the other snake-like white form, a small snake was having fun around my body.

 

I never had such close contact with a snake before but I am glad I didn’t panic. Perhaps one day such aspect is going to be fatal but in general I don’t feel the urge of danger or nausea, with the exception of a few specimens like cockroaches.

 

Instead of screaming or running, I stayed inside the pool and observed the small grey snake. It measured between 2 to 3 palms of my hand in length. I was cautious because in some corner of my mind I have this idea that small cobras are poisonous. I don’t think this one was big enough to bite me, yet one can never be sure.

 

After a short period of time, I could see that the small creature was trying to leave the pool without success. After some jumps, it stayed very quiet on the surface as if it had fainted with the effort. I tried to help using the iPod white cable, but failed. So I stepped out of the pool and took my time to photograph my little swimming companion. The episode ended with a providential resource in such kind of situations.

 

I couldn’t take a photo of the snake out of the water because as soon as the little form found safe ground it disappeared with amazing speed. The rest of the hot part of the afternoon resumed to the swimming pool, where I waited and waited for my two princes charming.

 

Later on, when I was showing the pictures of the snake to the hotel staff, one of them advanced some information: “Was it a green snake?” he asked. “No” I replied. “It was a plain grey snake.” “Oh, my God!” he just said.

 

When I was leaving, I left behind a choir of voices telling almost the same: ‘A senhora foi muito corajosa!’ (Something about me being brave.) Though the snake episode was kind of different, I don’t see the big deal. After all, it was just a small snake.

 

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