The Scary Thing Under the Sink

I’m okay with snakes, spiders, large flying insects, bugs that have no aerodynamic stability and careen with a loud splat to the floor, dying on their backs because they cannot right themselves. I live in a jungle. I know these things exist and, after all, they were here first. I don’t want to see them, but if I do, I’m not that surprised

Tonight I washed the dishes and turned off the light on a tidy kitchen. As I scanned the house one last time before retiring beneath the safety of my mosquito net, I spotted the used cup and saucer from afternoon tea, sitting on my desk.

Some people have absolutely no trouble at all waking up to dirty dishes. Those people are not me. I snatched up the offending items, flicked on the kitchen light, and scrubbed them clean. As I turned to leave, a patch of wall by the waste bin moved, ever so slightly. A little tiny Shit! escaped my lips. I bent down to get a better look, not really wanting to, but feeling compelled. The wall scooted into the darkness under the sink.


I was faced with a decision. Do I get the flashlight? How badly do I need to know what’s hiding under there? I could go to bed and let the night sort it out. It would certainly be gone by morning. The part of me that thrives on drama, grabbed the flashlight and flooded the under-the-counter gloom with brightness. There it was, paralyzed in the beam, a fuzzy, brown, very large, arachnid. I couldn’t avoid an involuntary shudder.

Now what? My eyes were riveted on the spider and the light in my hand was steady. But a shadow, lurking in the dark bowels that held the underside of the sink, moved. Very, very slowly, I repositioned the light. A head with bulging eyes on a reptilian neck, stared back at me. In some corner of my brain I begged, “Please don’t be a snake, please don’t be a snake!”

The rest happened fast. The spider shifted, the reptile darted, and I fled, slamming the door behind me.

I am comforted in the knowledge that the under-the-sink-dweller is not a snake. I can be almost happy sharing my kitchen, knowing that she eats spiders. But she’s awfully big, and doesn’t look like anything I’ve seen before. That worries me…just a little.

Snake for Breakfast

I’ll try just about anything once. This morning Ketut was excited. He would bring me a special Balinese breakfast, fruit and tea and…snake.  I’m sure my face registered an element of concern. I asked, “Is it a Balinese dish?” Ketut was all smiles, “Oh yes, makanan kecil, snake.” Well, I LOVE Balinese food and I also have an incredibly tolerant digestive system. “Okay,” I said, “Good! Snake for breakfast! Good!”

So while I’m waiting for this unusual treat to arrive I put on Balinese music and try not to think too hard about what might appear. When I am served fish it comes whole, head, fins, tail, and eyes. The eyes are the worst. I have yet to see a live snake in Bali. What might a breakfast snake look like?

Now, as a storyteller I’m about to do a flashback to yesterday morning. Ketut and Sudi, my neightbor, and I were pouring over the pictures in the Indonesian cookbook I had purchased. We were especially drawn to the large dessert section. They are works of art, and why wouldn’t they be? The same women who make these confections also create the amazing fruit arrangements for ceremonies and the decorations for weddings and cremations. They are a fabulously creative bunch. The photos were gorgeous, mouth-watering, and Ketut explained that all of these delights could be found at the early morning market. We chattered awhile longer then went our separate ways.

About this time (back to my story) I heard Ketut’s soft “Hallooo,” letting me know he had returned with breakfast. “Yes, masuk Ketut, come in…” I was sitting in my breakfast spot on the balcony. Ketut lowered the tray and WOW! In a flash I knew my mistake. The word Ketut had been meaning to say was SNACK! In Bali those dreamy desserts I had been drooling over the day before are called by the English word snack, not dessert, not snake! I started laughing hilariously, a thing I do a lot here. When I explained to Ketut what I had been expecting to appear for breakfast he lost it too. When he could finally talk again he said, “People eat snack, snake eat people!” Well, yes, sort of! And we laughed again.

Here’s the photo of my SNAKE BREAKFAST!

The morsel I found wrapped in the banana leaf was, oh my…delicious!  And the striped goodies were a close second. So life continues to be a series of delightful surprises and before a thought can even become a wish, it is granted.

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