Westlake was one of those ideal suburbs the average person who hasn’t lived in the tropics can only dream of as they flick through slick brochures promoting vacations where snows never fall, and you are only minutes away from some exotic scene reminding one of their good fortune living in a tropical paradise. On a short walk from Westlake through overhanging jungle one is suddenly confronted with the Macritchie Reservoir where monkeys play, and waterfowl cruise serene waters. In the distance are islands whose lush vegetation encroaches water and provides haven for water fowl.
Down over ample jogging paths circumnavigating the reservoir are exercise equipment at various bending and stretching points, sheds containing equipment for club members who favour water sports and the zig zag board walks giving a glorious view of the lakes extent into the distance with waterspout putting a finishing touch to the tranquillity of the scene.
The zig zags had other purposes too. There is always a knot of locals and occasional spell bound tourist at one of the extremities of the zigs and the zags where one could duck around the corner if evil spirits happened to have you in their sight. After all devils can’t turn corners so all you must do is step from the zig to the zag to protect self against an evil intrusion flying in. The zigs and zags are also places where abundant gold fish of impressive size and turtles that jostle with them for vantage space fighting it out for treats showered on them from the board walk.
But lurking within thick jungles surrounding the reservoir are dangers large and small. We were confronted by one of those dangers one afternoon. Hearing a huge commotion coming from outside we hastened to the window to peep out from airconditioned evening enjoyment. It was nice to relax after sweating it out in some distant country or in offices a ten-minute walk from our street where most of the bungalows were owned by the office and rented out to administrators. It was obvious from parents and teens running around outside we needed to venture out to see what the fuss was all about.
There casually making its way down the street from the shelter of the reservoir was one of the largest boas I’d seen though I was assured later it was not a mature one. I was seeing a twelve-footer paused to study humans keeping a respectable distance and sniffing the air with head erect and expressionless eyes taking in the spectacle. The body paused in it’s gyrations forward pulsed with a power that could crush large animals, and I might add a human unfortunate to get too close when Mr. boa happened to be primed for the next meal. Moving in cautiously with a snake catching stick one of the teachers from the academy on regional headquarters property sought to do battle with the giant.
To the surprise and relief of a gathering crowd the giant’s head was secured, then adults and teenagers moved in to tame that strong muscular body and deposit it into a huge holding bag bulging at the seams while the monster struggled to exit and deal with its persecutors. There was a debate about what should happen to the creature. By law it should have been returned to the jungle surrounding that reservoir, but doubts were expressed about the wisdom of opening that carefully closed bag. A car was produced, the boa deposited into the trunk of the car and the vehicle sped off. For a while animated discussion took place on the street at this unusual occurrence but lure of our airconditioned homes soon had us back inside checking out evening news. The boa was forgotten.
However, when we reached our office next morning the campus was already buzzing with a continuation of the prior evening saga. Two of the students at the academy also on site listed for breakfast duty had sleepily reported and were told to retrieve items from the walk-in freezer room. There had been shrieks of horror and instant departure back to the boarding student residence. The puzzled cafeteria in charge had rushed to the open door to be confronted with a frozen boa erect at eye level. Obviously, the boa had not enjoyed the confines of the bag and worked diligently to extricate itself. It had not been returned to the jungle and the perpetrators were bought in for counselling. A vehicle was appropriated and those responsible directed to dispose of the beast.
But the saga of the boa was not yet ended. The carefully wrapped frozen rigid creature was placed on the back seat of the car and the hum of traffic and relative warmth of the vehicle began to cause a transformation. The seemingly lifeless creature began to thaw and with the thaw came movement and that movement was caught in the rear mirror of the car. The speed of the vehicle was noticeably increased with one eye glued to the mirror and the other on morning speeding traffic. The address written hastily before their departure was reached in record time and occupants fled to meet the man who’d promised to assist them in their plight. With the aid of a dozen helpers he fetched the partly frozen boa and took it inside.
I’m told on good authority there could be articles of personal choice, handbags, belts and other accessories being proudly displayed around the world that have the trademark “boa.” Not sure what would have happened to the meat of that creature if that is the case, but I’m equally told snake is a favoured delicacy in parts of the world. It’s better I don’t know the end to that story as to me the best place for creatures of the wild in in their natural habitat undisturbed.
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