Buanas noches Orlando!”
Buenas noches Señor Vanderpoel. Divertirse en la fiesta, Señor Vanderpoel”
Orlando opened the gate so we could drive out of the complex. Loosely translated he had said “Have fun at the party”. Yeah, we hoped to have fun all right. In fact Lauren and her mom Ann looked pretty spiffy in their party dresses.
Fifty-one of us were attending a Costa Rican “destination wedding” and we’d just left a very nice cocktail & hors d’oeuvre party hosted by Amy and her family for the entire guest list. But the four of us wouldn’t be returning to that party, we had an entirely different one in mind. A snake party!
Some how or another the word got out at the cocktail party that I was going to do some road cruising for snakes. I was surprised when the sister of the groom, Lauren Isbell and her boyfriend Eric Greiving asked if they might join me? I said sure why not! Then Lauren’s mom Ann asked if she might come along as well? The more the merrier! And now we were cruising the ten miles of asphalt road in the Hacienda Pinilla complex. The habitat certainly wasn’t perfect for snakes but there were some areas that were largely native dryland tropical forest. Besides one of the other guests and I had gone out road cruising the night before the wedding and found this Northern Cat-eyed Snake.
And we had found this Double-striped Thick-Knee feeding n the dark on one of the streets so there was definitely some wildlife prowling around Hacienda Pinella.
We began are drive by heading back to the area of the cat-eyed snake. As we cruised slowly along slowly, I gave everyone a quick course on how to spot snakes on the road. There are a few things to look for. Usually the snakes are crossing the road and will appear as a straight lined object. Lauren informed all of us that she’s sharp-eyed, but she was relegated to the back seat with her mom. We spotted a raccoon and an armadillo, but no snakes in the first half hour.
As I continued to drive slowly along the road, doubt crept into my mind. Maybe that cat-eyed snake was an unparalleled event? Were we wasting our time? It certainly wasn’t perfect habitat. With these thoughts all rambling through my mind, I shrugged off the large shape in the oncoming traffic lane. But Lauren didn’t. “SNAKE” she screamed! I slammed on the breaks, put the car in neutral and rammed up the emergency break with such force that it surprised me when it didn’t break. Simultaneously I yelled “Everyone out” Eric was out of the front passenger seat like a cat.
By the time I ran to where he was, Eric had the snake under control with the snake stick.
It was large – 4 feet in length and thick bodied. It snapped at Eric, but he remained cool as a cucumber. A Boa Constrictor!
Everyone was stoked up and exhilarated! Even Ann was totally into this “herping party” and why not? This is the type of party I love. Better a shot of pure adrenaline than a shot of rum any day!
To make matters even more exciting Eric and I bagged the snake. The next morning I released the Boa Constrictor in a safe spot, but not before taking a picture for you to enjoy