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Avoiding snakes in the St Vincent rainforest (with video)

Tuesday 18 August 2015

I don't know why I bother asking. Whenever I'm in a tropical country (or any non-Irish country, really) and about to venture outside a city, I ask someone about the snake situation. 
The answer is inevitably the same.

"Oh, we don't have any snakes here! I've never seen one in my life."

Then I get to wherever it is I'm going, only to be met by a million signs stating just how many slippery little bastards there are at every turn. I could be heading to a rattlesnake convention in the middle of the desert, and some smart ass in a café will assure me that there's no way one will cross my path.

I was on to them, of course, in St Vincent. The lovely trainer at Buccament Bay, Charlotte, assured me that she headed off into the hills and rainforest all the time, mostly in flip flops, and had never gotten a whisper of one. 

I didn't really believe her, but couldn't be a wuss. So I headed, tentatively, onto the Vermont Nature Trail, which passes through a 10,870 acre area of preserved rainforest. 

Actually, my footsteps were anything but tentative. I mastered the art of Snake Stomping years ago - whenever you're walking in a high risk zone, you stamp your feet as hard as you can, so they run away from your vibrating pathway. Though thinking about it... this may be counter intuitive. Could this attract them to you? Oh God... it doesn't bear thinking about.

Anyway, that's how I walked. The only trouble is, I was also scared about dehydration. So I'd preemptively hydrated with enough water to drown an elephant. A few minutes into the walk, nature called.

You have never known terror like popping a squat in the rainforest, convinced that at any moment a snake will sneak up behind you and bite you on the arse.

I was right, by the way. The rainforest is home to congo snakes, who are notoriously shy. Have you ever noticed how all snakes are "notoriously shy"? Oh, they're more scared of you than you are of them. Bullshit. It's a physical impossibility.

It turns out, they either are very shy (psh) or they simply didn't show their disgusting faces while I was there. What I did find was incredible little plants that shiver when touched, silvery shining taro leaves, gargantuan monkey goblet trees and a fleeting glance at two elusive St Vincent Parrots. I made a little video so you could see some of these plants in action, as well as some little rainforest factoids.

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