My Salvadoran Crocodile Dundee
[Today is Spanish Friday but I won't be translating my entire post to Spanish today. Instead I will offer some vocabulary and phrase translations of the Spanish that appears within the dialogue at the end of the post.]
“Is that a snake?”
It was too late to be going anywhere, but Carlos and I were in the car, pulling out of the driveway. The plan was to sneak out and get ice cream without the kids or Suegra tagging along. The headlights lit up something black and twisted by the side of the road near our mailbox.
“Nene, that’s just trash or something.”
“No.” He put the car in park and opened the door, “that’s a snake.”
I got out too, rolling my eyes. That big, black, twisted thing was just a trash bag or something. Where did he think we lived? The Amazon Rainforest? As if a snake that big would just be hanging out near our mailbox.
We walked up to the object. I carelessly walked closer to it than Carlos. The “piece of trash” slithered.
“Oh my God,” I said, backing up and standing behind Carlos, “it’s a snake!”
“I know,” he said, “I need a flashlight, I can’t see it well.” He started back towards the house, leaving me and the snake to entertain each other.
The snake started to move towards our house. I picked up a big rock and threw it in his path, but missed. I threw another rock which landed right in front of his nose. The snake reared back and opened his little mouth. I stood my ground, armed with another rock, freaked out but determined not to let it anywhere near the house, until Carlos returned with a flashlight and a broom, the kids and Suegra trailing behind.
Carlos uncoiled the snake with the broom and it became clear that it was at least 4 feet long and, venomous or not, aggressive. The original plan was to carry the snake on the broom over to the nearby woods but the snake did not cooperate, and instead made every attempt to come at us or go towards our house.
Suegra kept telling Carlos to throw it in the road so the passing cars could run over it.
“Ay! Dejala, hijo,” she pleaded, “Las culebras pueden tirar veneno a tus ojos y vas a quedar ciego!” (She must have seen an episode about spitting cobras on National Geographic en español.)
“I’m going to have to kill it,” Carlos said to me. We didn’t want to, especially not knowing if it was even dangerous, but we didn’t want to take the chance of it getting into our house and hurting the kids.
“Traigame algo por matarla,” Carlos said to no one in particular.
Suegra and our youngest son ran off for the house.
Suegra returned first… with a weed whacker.
“Mamá,” Carlos said, exasperated. “Cómo voy a matarla con eso?”
Our youngest son, an animal lover, came out of the house with the white bucket that Suegra uses for washing her chones.
“Can we just capture it?” he asked, holding out the bucket.
“Cipote!” she said, grabbing it from him, “No! Con mi cumbo, no!”
“Get the machete,” Carlos said. I went to our closet and got the machete.
All of the commotion attracted a crowd of gringo kids who had been playing flashlight tag or something in the neighbor’s yard.
“Dude, what’s going on?” one of the gringo kids said to my older son, seeing Carlos with the machete, looking like some sort of Salvadoran Crocodile Dundee.
“My Dad killed a snake,” my older son answered, his voice calm, as if this was a normal activity for our family.
I really wanted Carlos to ask me if I was alright after the whole snake thing went down so I could be silly and use a line from the movie, but he was too busy putting everything back in the shed that Suegra had thrown all over the yard when she had pulled out the weed whacker.
…but since it’s my blog, I’m going to pretend that he turned to me as he re-sheathed the machete.
“I’m always alright when I’m with you, Carlos.”
—Vocabulary for this post—
Nene – baby (term of endearment, from woman to man.)
Machete – A big ass knife
Suegra – mother-in-law
Culebra – Snake
Chones – Underwear
Ay! Dejala, hijo – Ay! Leave it, son
Las culebras pueden tirar veneno a tus ojos y vas a quedar ciego – Snakes can spit venom in your eyes and you’ll be left blind
Traigame algo por matarla – Bring me something to kill it
Mamá, Cómo voy a matarla con eso? – Mama, how am I going to kill it with this?
Cipote – kid/male child (Salvadoran slang)
No! Con mi cumbo, no! – No, not with my bucket! (“Cumbo” means container or bucket. Salvadoran slang.)