Mission Snake Confiscation amuses students

by:  CAELEN BENSEN - Snakes provide a source of entertainment and fright at a school in Belize where West Linn native Caelen Bensen works.One Friday after school in Gallon Jug, I was greeted by the high frequency screams of teenage girls.

All of the teachers, having been expertly trained to jump to attention at these sounds, ran outside. We were welcomed by a crowd of nervously giddy children, circularly positioned around a 3-foot snake that was in the process of devouring a sun-dried frog. by: SUBMITTED PHOTO -  CAELEN BENSEN

We studied the snake for a while as it maintained a perfect frozenness in our shadows, it’s jaw secured tightly over the frog’s head. The group quickly began to dissipate when they realized this stubborn animal was not going to be their new source of entertainment. Soon, the uninterested students had returned to their games of basketball and keep-away.

Not everyone had given up hope on this hungry new friend, however. As soon as the older students lost interest in the new creature, the younger ones, who had been spying from afar, moved in to strike.

They took the displacement of onlookers as an invitation to go poke and prod the slithery creature. Teachers to attention! Not knowing if the snake was poisonous or not was a recipe for a quick removal. It was time to take action and initiate Mission Snake Confiscation.

I took a pro-life stand and ran to grab some sticks, while the other teachers cautiously backed away from the situation. Having now completed this process a couple of times since moving to Belize, I thought it would be as simple as slipping my stick under the snake’s middle and carrying it into a neighboring field.

Easier said than done, as they say. As my one brave colleague and I gingerly held down the culprit’s head, I tried to slip my obese stick under the body, failing miserably over and over again. The students, hearing the struggle, returned and formed a cheer squad. Finally, I situated the poor fellow on my stick and tried to move quickly before he discovered a way out of the predicament he had innocently gotten himself into.

Within seconds, still grasping onto the frog, Mr. Snake slithered effortlessly away, hurling himself near the line of cheerleaders. Screams echoed through the audience. We tried again, only to be met with another flying, acrobatic escape — frog still intact. My colleague determined that a more viable alternative then stick juggling was to fling the cold-blooded beast into a neighboring field.

So, we flung, however, quite clumsily. The circus act began when I spastically threw the snake over my shoulder in exactly the opposite direction as planned. Trying to recover the situation, my colleague tossed the snake directly onto my bare foot.

To the spectators’ delight, I began screaming and jumping around like a fool before I gave one powerful reflexive kick and flung that bad boy into the targeted field of grass and cow pies.

Mission Snake Confiscation was complete and it was time to get back to work on those semester grades.

The job of a teacher is never boring in Belize!

Caelen Bensen is a former West Linn resident. She graduated from West Linn High School in 2006 and currently lives in the Dominican Republic working as an ESOL teacher.

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