By Bruce Farrow on April 25, 2015
It was a ridiculously hot day, maybe 38 or even 40 degrees, as the trekker stood on the secluded beach alone. There was no-one else in view apart from the odd local vendor down the other end of the beach, selling freshly prepared crab and warm beer. A few stray dogs ran around the shallows chasing small fish and crustaceans and generally frolicking in the sea.
It would be very easy to stay here, find some shade, drink a little beer and enjoy the view. However that was not why he was here. There was something that he had to do.
To his left, bordering the beach and forest, was a mountain. It wasn’t very large as mountains go, yet it was steep and shrouded with jungle and even the start of the path at its base looked treacherous. Strewn with rocks and branches, it didn’t offer a pleasing route to the summit.
He had to climb it. He had his reasons, yet it would be a lot easier to sit down on the beach. The climb offered hard toil and the possibility of animals and reptiles who might be averse to his presence, yet he knew he had to do it. He didn’t need to do it, he wanted to do it.
In a previous lifetime in another presence he had visited this place and he knew that there was something, previously shared, that he had to see again.
The beer was tempting, though, as he gathered up his pack and belongings and started towards the base of the mountain, accidentally leaving his bottle of water behind on the beach. He had other things on his mind.
As he started up the beginning of the path up the mountain, he had to climb over several large boulders before the path actually became a path. The trees closed in above him, reducing the light and providing protection from the burning sun. It was still incredibly hot and humid and he was already drenched in sweat.
He became alert to where he was stepping. This was perfect snake territory with plenty of shade, broken trees and branches and a forest floor covered with leaves. He was not exactly dressed for this task in flip-flops and shorts, and he considered for a brief moment whether it was sensible to push on. He reached for his water bottle and discovered he had left it behind, again, and pushed on.
He had managed to cover about 50 yards of the path when he noticed a moment to his right, about 3 metres from the path. A small snake, probably a Krait, slithered away and, as he watched carefully, he saw another, curled up, yet watching him.
This was their territory and he was the imposter. He meant them no harm and he wasn’t frightened of them, yet he respected them. He watched the snake for a couple of moments, and moved on up the hill.
Birds sung their shrill songs above him in the canopy, as he moved inexorably up the steep path.
He came to a small dilapidated shack, about half way up. It was about 2 metres long by about a metre wide and he wondered its purpose. Who would have lived here and why? Someone must have done at some point and his mind painted internal pictures of how it would be to live in a place like this. The word peace came to mind.
He pushed on and after 20 minutes of intensely hard climbing up the steep path in the energy-sapping heat, he came to a small tree that had half fallen diagonally across the path. He reached a hand towards the tree to swing his body under it. Just before he grabbed hold of the branch, he managed to stop himself, his hand 6 inches away from a coal black, 2 metre long Cobra that was lying along the branch.
He moved his hand away slowly, very slowly, not taking his eyes off the snake’s head, watching for the slightest sign that it was going to strike. He was well aware that if it bit him there was no way that he could get medical help soon enough to be of any use.
As he returned his hand to his side he backed away slowly until he stood about 2 metres away from one of the most deadly snakes in the world. They watched each other and his eyes were drawn into the almost hypnotic and unblinking stare of the Monocled Cobra. Apart from its forked tongue flicking out now and again, it didn’t move and neither did he. He felt that the snake knew that he did not wish it any harm and both seemed to relax a little.
He admired its colour. It was jet black, the blackest black he had ever seen and it had a deep lustre to it. He could just see that it had white circles on the back of its head. They were a brilliant white, contrasting perfectly with the coal black of its long body. It was indeed a magnificent creature and he contemplated on how many people had a real dislike of reptiles such as this one. Yes it was deadly, but only when you threatened it. Essentially it was the same as mankind which he believed to be far more deadly than a snake.
Several minutes passed as both watched each other, assessing form and intent.
He had a decision to make. To continue on his journey he would have to duck under the branch and to do that he would come within inches of this snake. Was the end goal worth the risk? Was his destination going to give him sufficient rewards to get that close to one of the most venomous snakes in the world?
He trusted his intuition. He did not wish to harm the snake and he felt the snake appreciated that, in fact he kind of knew that. He felt that they were at peace with one another.
Slowly he moved towards the snake, ducking down until he moved smoothly and slowly under the branch. His head was about 8 inches from the snake’s head. It didn’t move.
He started up the path again, looking over his shoulder to ensure that he wasn’t being followed and saw the snake looking at his departing form. He could have sworn it winked at him.
Another 20 minutes of careful, yet hard climbing and several gallons of sweat later, he burst into the sunlight at the top of the mountain.
He surveyed the view. This is what he had come for. It was a perfect view of the ocean and the land, depending on which direction you looked and in the centre of the top of the mountain, stood a massive Buddha.
As he stood at the foot of the Buddha, a sense of peace and calm filled his body as it triggered memories of a past lifetime followed by a sense of purpose and direction for his future. This was indeed a very special place.
In that brief shining moment, he created his future . . . and he liked how it looked.
A true story