The Coral Snake

by John White

In the Blog titled Adventure in Puerto Lada I shared my first adventure in the Darien rainforest. Many more were to come.

After the first adventure I knew how to travel the miserable road by bus. Mainly because the Cook's put me on a bus to return to Panama City after the first visit. The bus rides are an adventure in themselves but that isn't what this Blog is about.

I arrived just east of Santa Fe, a small town in the Darien but on the road. Just east of Santa Fe is where the Cook's have their home and farm. The accommodating bus driver dropped me off in what serves as their dirt driveway. I then walked the quarter mile to the house. Greetings exchanged we settled down to sweating. I thought about going into the T-Shirt and sponge business after an hour or so.

When the sun was setting Denis announced it was time to go to a village for a prayer meeting. I was beat from the trip out and begged off. That was fine but Denis warned me not to let anyone in. He told me that at night drug runners moved along the road toward the city. That was okay until they left and the sun set for the night.

With only two kerosene lanterns burning and the sudden awareness that I didn't know where the backup fuel was or how to fill them, I settled down to enjoy my panic attack. Every time the dogs barked I figured it was over. Remember, there is no electricity, no TV and no guns. Only darkness, weird sounds, and imagination. But after a lifetime I saw lights coming up the dirt driveway. It was Denis and family and my nightmare ended. They told me they prayed for me and I'm sure that is why I am still here to tell you this story. 

The next morning Jeanie, Denis' wife and I set out to buy baskets. All went well until the late afternoon when Jeanie said we were going to take two sick young girls to the clinic. The kids climbed in the back and off we went. When we arrived at the clinic I went in for a few minutes and then returned to the SUV. I figured there was little I could do and I was exhausted from wheeling and dealing.

All of a sudden this young lady comes running out of a house across the dirt road. She is screaming at the top of her lungs. I speak Spanish but I'm a little weak on screams so I stayed where I was. A minute later she comes back out screaming run, run in Spanish. I understood that. Then this young man in a white coat comes out following her with a long stick. He looked like Don Quixote or a pole vaulting maniac. She entered the house first. There was a parrot on the screen door and he never budged as the door swung open and shut. Then Don Quixote reached the door and swung it open. Again the parrot remained unruffled. This was more than I could take so I ran to the house and entered. The parrot complained but didn't leave the door.

Inside I find the orderly whacking at a coral snake on the floor. Boy, could that little rascal move! But Don Quixote won out and the snake died right in front of us.

I looked around and recognized a dorm room. Two beds, a couple of desks, books, lamps, and closets. I figured it was where two nurses lived that worked at the clinic.

For the rest of the story...see the next Blog titled THE ROAD HOME when I write it.     I have to go sell some baskets right now.


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