That was the dilemma that Guillermo (same guy--what exciting times he faces, huh) faced recently, on yet another night across the river, en route home from guarding his field from the raccoons.
There, blocking his way, and stretched all the way across the road in front of him was a ginormous rattlesnake -- over 6 feet long, its head was not quite yet into the weeds across the road, its tail still obscured by the weeds on the other side of the road.
Guillermo had a machete in his right hand, and a long, heavy metal bar in his left hand. Which to use, which to use.... Well, which one would YOU use, and why?
I will end your suspense. He used the bar to crush its head, bringing it down with all his force. His rapid decision was based on, first, the striking distance of so large and muscular a rattler who knew well he was there. The bar is longer than the machete, so he need not stand so close. Secondly, a powerful swing from the bar is certain to crush the rattler's skull, and a machete may fail to cut through the thick skin of such a huge reptile.
Thirteen rattles on the tail, by the way.
He showed us its decapitated corpse, lying in the weeds alongside the road. His wife Sara was with us. I asked her why she didn't cook it up for dinner.... I know folks in the States sometimes do, for instance.
Her response was one word accompanied by a facial expression: "Guacala!" (Yuck!)
SO....... while I am still on the subject of Guillermo's practiced survival skills, let me just mention that a few years back, he also wrestled a crocodile to death, slitting its throat with his machete... while the whole village watched. THEN his wife DID cook it up, and served it to everyone. Barbecued crocodile is a specialty in these here parts. I guess I should be sorry I missed it.
Almost didn't, though. Just the other night... after his encounter with the rattler... Guillermo was coming home from the field and there, coming toward him from the shallows of the nearby swamp was (you guessed it) a crocodile. Not a big one as crocs go, but hey, some three feet long is far longer than I ever want to encounter.
What did he do? He picked up a big rock that just happened to be lying nearby and threw it full force at the croc's head. He hit it directly on top of its head, which is very thick. The croc immediately turned tail and hied itself back into the swamp. Guillermo lamented that he had been aiming for the side of the head, which is thinner -- hoping to crush the skull and thus provide the village with yet another barbecued croc.
This nearby river is back to being shallow enough that little kids play in it -- heck, there was a big in-water picnic there today with scads of kids, and a pick-up truck parked mid-river, from the tail'gate of which there were smiling moms serving plates of hot delicious home'made food for everyone.
All of this excitement around late-night river crossings has put a kind of kibosh on OUR plans to watch videos with our friends across the river. At least at night.
By the way, we gave Guillermo one of our fancy-dancy headlamps so he can always see ahead and around him without losing grip on any of his weapons.