Toadspittle’s comment on the previous post referred to the rains here, which hit the international news because an English couple were drowned in a flash flood at Cala Finestrat, just six kilometres away from here. A very tragic accident and a reminder that the weather can be violent sometimes, although the claim of 360 days of sunshine is more or less true.
The wet weather seems to have brought all the snakes out of hiding. I saw this monster right outside the house, crossing the road and it looks about one third the width of the road.
There are thirteen different types of snake in Spain, five of which are venomous. One website comfortingly assures me, ‘Of the fifty or so snakebite deaths that occur in Europe each year, only three are in Spain.’ I thought this one was safe, as it was so big, so I went very close to get my photos. Now I am not so sure. I think it was a Montpellier, as they can grow up to two metres. They have venomous fangs. The day after I saw the above reptile, I was exploring a cavity in the dry stone wall by my cisterna, where a stone had fallen out, dislodged by the rain. I saw the viper lurking in there when my hand was just six inches from its head and it reared slightly to strike. I was shocked because I have walked along that wall in sandals all through the summer and now it seems there is a vipers’ nest inside the stones.
So the visitors to my barbecue yesterday – particularly the children – had to be warned about the danger. There was also the danger from the donkeys, as the mothers are still occasionally kicking at each other in rivalry, so I warned all parents to keep the kids away from the rear legs of the mothers. And the irony was that I got kicked very hard by Matilde in the side of my right knee. It was a good thing it was not the kneecap or it could have been serious. I have a bruise but nothing worse. The barbecue was for teachers at the school where I work. We have an occasional social get together, taking turns to host it, and this time it was held at my house because everyone wanted to see the new foals. Three weeks old now!
Finally, many thanks to The Wall Eyed Mr Whippy who comments here frequently and just sent me his copy of Elisabeth Svendsen’s book A Passion for Donkeys which tells the story of her Donkey Sanctuary in Devon and the Slade Centre which helps handicapped children through donkey therapy. It arrived in the post in time for me to read it while invigilating two 2-hour exams in school on Friday. What a marvellous story it is, truly moving, and it was such a salutory lesson to me that her story recounts so many examples of ill-treated animals in the country that prides itself so complacently on animal welfare. Thanks very much, ‘Mr Whippy’. It is a book to treasure. Elisabeth Svendsen died earlier this year, but her work continues. The website of the Donkey Sanctuary is work looking at. Please make a donation too: it is valuable work not just for animals but for less advantaged children.