Snakes and Other Superstitions

I was out on one of my favorite beach and jungle hikes around Red Frog today and ran upon my first snake.  It was quite a fright and surprising considering in my four months here last year I didn’t see one.  It was a good reminder that we in fact live in a jungle.

I was also reminded of the book I just finished reading last night, Superstition, Pirates, Ghosts and Folklore of Bocas del Toro, Panama, by Malcolm Hendersen, a local expat in Bocas del Toro.  Malcolm provides a collection of legends and stories as told by the local inhabitants of the archipelago. Malcolm has captured the tradition of ‘story telling’ and recorded these entertaining local  folktales and folklore stories to ensure they are never lost. Tales of pirate treasures, ghost sightings and the myriad of superstitions gathered from various tribes and indigenous folk can be found in his book.

I found his chapter on snakes and a Bocas shaman – the Snake Man – Corenlio Abrego, the most interesting.  Since I was a kid, I’ve been very afraid of snakes and sat in bed last night thinking to myself, after having read about the Snake Man, “what would I do if confronted with a snake again” (I nearly stepped on one as a kid at my Grandparent’s farm and was terrified to go back outside for days).

After reading Malcolm’s book, perhaps the locals would see my “crossing paths” with the snake as foreboding or interpret it is as a sign.  Nevertheless, once I noticed I was about to step on the snake, his head raised for attack, I ran to the opposite side of the road and he ran back into the jungle.  I’ll take it as a sign that he was more afraid of me than me afraid of him!

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