Snake Country – Pat McKrill

As Victoria might have said, “Greetings to the chattering classes” – I refer however, to those of you whose comfort zones, like mine, were rent asunder by the mighty southwester that charged through on the fateful night of June 16th 2015, sending temperatures plummeting to an all-time bone-numbing low. Well, perhaps I’m exaggerating, but that’s what it felt like in Cato Ridge – I’ve relocated from Camperdown – and ye of limited body packaging will know what I mean. I know we need the cold to kill off the bad stuff, but I think it’s all dead now, so can we turn the thermostat up again please!

Highbury boys getting to know their neighbours in Babanango

Highbury boys getting to know their neighbours in Babanango

Onward to more important matters. It’s that time of the year again when I head off for a few days up in Babanango, near the Battlefields of Isandhlwana, to join the grade 7 lads from Highbury School, where we get to learn more about the world around us – the real world, not the world according to DSTV or the iPad.
Babanango is close to Nkaaaaandlaaa, so we might even put a call in there, to introduce the Prez to a few of our limbless mates – that should get him giggling!

The fortnight away from home that the boys spend along the river in the beautiful surrounds of the Turner’s farm, would be a tonic for anyone fortunate enough to experience such a trip, an object lesson for those of us who look for lame excuses for not getting away for some much needed soul-enriching relaxation.
Whilst learning something of the history of their country and experiencing a part of other people’s lifestyles in the unspoiled surrounds, the boys get to enjoy days of clean air, wholesome food and fun in the company of their peers, along with some life-skills thrown in. Apart from the shared pleasures of the outdoors, I get my turn to conduct snake, frog and insect talks that serve to pass on the message of the power of nature and vulnerability of our environment, something we all take for granted. For me, the trip is rewarding in that I get to see an amazing transformation taking place amongst the participants of all races, many of whom, despite their possibly privileged upbringings, have never experienced as many life-changing and mentally stimulating moments as they do when they commune with nature.

More fearless Highbury boys

More fearless Highbury boys

In my box of fellow travelers, there’ll be an assortment of house snakes, night adders, egg-eaters and other species that occur in the area, and we’ll do day and night walks, giving the boys a chance to get up close and personal with their surrounds, and to start demystifying some of the unrealistic fears that they might have been harbouring all their lives, whilst at the same time getting to know about where those creatures fit into the scheme of life and how important they are to us all.
© pat mckrill. 2015
herpet@eastcoast.co.za
Cell: 0833036958