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.

Carlos chops the head off
Doing away with the body, which was still moving
Head of the snake on the tip of 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.

“You alright?”
“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.)


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  1. Ay Amiga! I´m so glad you have your Salvadoran Crocodile Dundee with you!!!
    Ok, this post is great on so many levels, but let me just start with the fact that you too were sneaking out of the house to go get some ice cream! I LOOOOVED THAT! jajajajaja!!!!!
    Did you ever find out what kind of snake was it? ¡Qué miedo!
    Great post amiga, GREAT!!!!

    • LOL – sneaking out to get ice cream is one of our favorite dates.

      Not sure what kind of snake it was – but apparently – not venomous.

  2. uyyyy esa culebra era una Black Mamba como la que sale en Kill Bill! Bendito Dios que tienen un esposo vaiente. Más que un Crocodile Dundee Guanaco, tienes un NINJA, un Chuck Norris, un Rambo!!! You guys are going to be ok!
    BTW— funny que el niño sacó el “cumbo” de suegra para atrapar a la culebra. Creo que la culebra hubiese preferido ser decapitada que compartir “container” con los chones!!! jajajajaaja

  3. Love this post, Tracy! Brought back so many great memories for me. Growing up in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas it was very common for us to find snakes in the yard on any given day, especially during the summer when it was hot, and my dad and mom both must have killed a dozen of them each during our eight years there, along with a whole other assortment of livestocks and pests… one time, we were even walking to get water and I didn’t pay attention to my mother’s warnings to step away from the path I was walking and I ended up stepping on a poisonous snake with my barefoot, lol. My mother reacted like you, with a rush of adrenaline and heroism and through me across the dirt road as fast as she could before the snake had a chance to wake up and try to bite me, lol. She hadn’t wanted to use her voice to warn me for fear of having the snake react faster and, well, I didn’t have any idea what she was doing with her hand signals… I thought she was trying to be funny, and I wasn’t happy with it because it was hot and we were carrying back gallons of drinking water to the house. My uncle actually liked to eat snake. It always made me sick to my stomach to look at it all rolled up without any skin in his refrigerator and nunca la he probado. Thanks for the memories, Hermana!

    • I ADORE this comment. As I told you in Facebook – cut and paste and make a longer blog post about it. I want more!

  4. The way to tell if snakes are poisonous has something to do with their anus…I saw it on the “Billy the Exterminator” show. Anyway, I think if you’re close enough to see his anus, you’re too close.

    You guys have a machete? LOL! I’d have had to use a shovel. That’s about the closest thing I have to a weapon out here.

    • ROFL … Um, yeah, not checking the anus. Sorry. (Where is that even located? LOL.)

      Yes, we have a machete. Kind of normal for a Salvadoran household. lol

  5. Another super funny episode in the life of Sra. López and her fam!! Thanks for the laughs, Trace! Although, I’m sure it wasn’t funny at all as it was happening. I deplore snakes and we have seen a few, of the garden variety, in our house. Not a happy moment!

    Anyhow, aquí está mi post para Spanish Friday:

    Solo es el segundo que hago y me divertí mucho escribiendo en mi idioma natal! I never get to do that!

    • Glad you enjoyed – can’t wait to go read yours. Love when you participate in Spanish Friday, amiga! :)

  6. I want to live with you guys. Nunca aburridos y siempre divertidos ;)
    Ay tu suegra! I live vicariously through your MIL joys and problemas, b/c I don’t have one :(
    Pero que aventado es Carlos. Su corazón buena brilla, pero también sabe como ‘get down’ con un machete. You’re a lucky lady!

  7. funny, but scary! You and Carlos were both brave….I would have been scared standing out there by myself with it. Your MIL cracks me up again…a weed wacker. I somehow knew this was ending with a machete though.
    I haven’t thought of Crocodile Dundee in a long time! Loved that scene, “Knife? That’s not a knife.” Hahaha. I wonder if my kids are old enough to see it yet?

    • LOL – love that scene too. (And his accent! <3 )

      Don't know if the kids are old enough to see Crocodile Dundee yet. I've tried to show the kids several movies out of nostalgia and have grossly misjudged the appropriateness many times. LOL. We used to watch some really non-PG things back then apparently – I just didn't realize it until my kids are staring wide-eyed at the screen.

  8. LOL. The weed whacker bit killed me. I could totally picture him rolling his eyes and thinking “WTF is wrong with you? How am I going to kill *anything* with a weed whacker?” LOL

    • The way he says “Mamá” when he’s like exhausted with her — he draws it out so long. ROFL. It’s like a verbal face palm the way he says it.

  9. Aiy, amiga! Que valiente es tu marido! (Pero, no, esa serpiente no es venenosa. Los que son venenosas tienen cabezas triangulares, no ovaladas come esa. De todos modos, ser mordido duele! Me alegro de que no había nadie!)

  10. Ay, Tracy! Mi familia ahorita cree que estoy loca porque no deje de reir mientras leia tu post. Tu suegra y el weed eater…jajajaja! Y me encanto tu difinicion de la palabra machete…big as knife. I wonder if every latin family has one. I know we do! I was waiting for one of the Gringo kids to say that the snake was his.

    Leslie Limon of Motherhood in Mexico gives Salvadoran Crocodile Dundee two thumbs up. I’m looking forwrd to the sequel.

    • LOL – Thanks, Leslie. I love that it made you laugh…

      Had the snake been some kid’s pet – OMG – that would have been bad! LOL

      And no sequels! Please!

  11. Loved this story! Isn’t crazy that our latino men seem to have machetes at the house…. I never knew what a machete was until I met my husband. Great great story! As usual suegra cracks me uP!

    • LOL – I knew what a machete was before I met him, but I didn’t know people actually kept them in their houses ;)

  12. Tracy! I can’t believe it. I don’t mind pet snakes, but snakes out in the wild … no freaking way. *LOL* on the snake spitting venom and blinding you, I didn’t even know that was possible. BTW, tienes un marido bien valiente. Even with a machete. Geesh.

  13. O sea que para saber si te vas a morir de una mordida de culebra, tienes que verle la cabeza y el fundillo! Este post se volvió más interesante y educativo que de costumbre!
    Y será que muerden las culebras machos y hembras por igual? Si sólo son los machos, habrá que verle tambien si tiene huevitos! Y digo esto pues sé que en el caso de los mosquitos, es la hembra la que pica y toma la sangre! (BTW – conozco un par de mujeres que hacen lo mismo – jajajajaja)

  14. Hahahhahahaa! I love it! A weed wacker?! I’d love to have seen that. The Croc Dundee scene is also awesome. It would’ve been fun to say, and even more funny that likely you’d be the only one in your family to get the awesome joke/quote. Your Esposo is the best.

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