Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Snakes. Why Did it Have to Be Snakes...

You are now looking what I found inside of my hostel dorm's bathroom at around 12:30am. So really, given that statement, this photo could have been much, much worse.

When I walked into the bathroom and switched the light on, the snake and I had basically the same reaction: jerk upright, stare, and not move a single muscle. I quietly turned the light back off, closed the door, and calmly informed the rest of the room that there was a snake in the bathroom, and that I was getting some help. I walked outside to the hostel's attached bar and told one of the security guys. He asked if it was a green snake. When I told him it was reddish-brown, he inhaled sharply through his teeth and went to get more people. When he told them it was a brown snake, nobody laughed. At least until one of them turned to me and said “Well, I've got good news for you, mate: the end with the mouth on it? That's the dangerous part.” Then there was a quiet argument as to who was going to take a look at the thing.

One of them lost the argument and came back with me. We opened the bathroom door and turned the light on. No snake. The windows were open. We closed them. The guy inspected the rest of the bathroom, then rushed out asking us to “give them a tingle” if we saw it again, especially considering the color. I looked at his back running away, and then, deliberately leaving the bathroom light on, closed the door again, looking down. The light illuminated about a two or three inch gap between the bottom of the door and the floor.

I swore under my breath and asked for a flashlight. We looked under all the beds and bags but didn't find anything. It wasn't until I'd been laying in my bed for five minutes that I remembered that I'd taken the picture when I first walked into the bathroom. Nobody in our dorm slept very well that night.

Luckily nobody did see the snake again. I'm pretty sure it must have escaped by the bathroom window after I left the first time. I showed the picture to reception, expecting gasps, apologies, offers of a room change, an inspection of the windows, something. Instead, the girl looked at it and said “Oh, yep, you're in Australia. Cool. Hey, Meg, what do you reckon this one is, a python?”

I guess that's just life down here.

A couple days later on a hike, I passed a couple of informational signs, describing the nearby ruins of a World War II fort, the names of some of the bays, the aboriginal origin myth of the islands, and a warning about a local snake called the Death Adder, one of the deadliest snakes in the world. It wasn't until about half an hour later that it occurred to me that a lot of my friends wouldn't have considered that last bit part of normal hiking. Maybe I've been here too long for my own good.

I'm still getting used to some parts of the wildlife though. Like my first night on Magnetic Island-- I asked at reception for tips on a good place to see the sunset. As a response, I was handed a refrigerated sack of veggies and told to go feed the rock wallabies at the end of the bay. And that's how I spent the sunset: sitting on some boulders overlooking the sea, handing food out to about twenty or so pint-sized wallabies bouncing around.

For those keeping score, I spent the day after my dorm snake encounter sailing and snorkeling on the Whitsunday islands, getting my first taste of the Great Barrier Reef, then a couple days hiking in national parks between Nelly Bay, Horseshoe Bay, and Arcadia (yes, a couple of you are wondering, that's really where I slept: Arcadia), where I was staying on Magnetic Island. A head cold kept me from diving. Again. But snorkeling off the Bali Hai island in the Whitsundays was still pretty impressive. So much of the coral seems to be dying though, and our captain in was bragging about how pristine the spot he'd taken us to was. Pretty soon, I'll get a better taste of how the place is doing. I'm in Cairns, Queensland, and I've finally gotten the cold out of my system. Cairns is known worldwide for one thing, and I'm doing it tomorrow.

Tomorrow, I go scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef.

Check out this entry's Photos.


  1. Egads, glad you have quick observational skills. lv,

  2. I hope you have, or can borrow, a good under water camera.

  3. Glad you got the pic and didn't get bitten. That's a great story, in retrospect.

    Enjoy the GBR.

  4. Joel,

    It's good to hear that you're doing so well in Australia. Although I find it interesting how much of your blog entries are fauna-based. I suspect that the real genesis of the trip is to cozy up to the cutest/deadliest animals on the planet, maybe befriending the occasional human along the way.

    On a similar note, regarding your adorable veggie-eating friends, I have one word for you. LOLaby. That's right. There are none on all the regular sites, so I propose you and I go into business. You take the pictures, I'll "write" the captions. How does that sound?


  5. Hola Joel!

    Wow, eso de la pitón sí que estuvo escalofriante uh?...gracias a Dios que estás bien y que te diste cuenta de la serpiente antes de entrar al baño. Bien, deseamos que sigas divirtiéndote y sacando provecho de todas tus experiencias en Australia.
    saludos desde Cbba
    Flía Mérida Montaño

  6. Anonymom- Yeah. Me Too. Not the first time it's saved my neck, probably not the last.

    Dane- Done! I was lucky enough to borrow a good digital one for the next entry.

    Count C- Once again, me too. Probably won't be the last time I think about things making a good story in retrospect.

    Boz- Oh man that sounds awesome. I've got some gems for you. Send me an email sometime and I'll send a couple your way to see what you think.

    Flía Mérida Montaño- La cosa rara esta vez fue que no me ocurré tener miedo hasta que pasó el evento. Solo estaba pensando "bien, aquí tenemos esto, debo hacer eso ahora". (Espero que podré mantener mi cabeza como eso la proxima vez...) De todos modos, seguro que sigaré divertirme, le prometo, no le preocupan ustedes! Si se necesita unas más... digamos "sorprenditas" para hacerlo, vale la pena, en mi opinion. Gracias y saludos a todos!