First thing’s first: “douche” is the French word for shower / bathroom area.
A couple weeks ago, I wandered into my douche to find a long, skinny, green snake relaxing in the corner, causing me to forget I had to pee and run out of the house for help. I know the majority of snakes in Benin are not poisonous, but I don’t know exactly which ones are, so I’d rather not take chances… My 17 year old concession sister, Gloria, and my 10 year old concession brother, Cedric, came to help me. Cedric tried to squish it with a stick, but it escaped and slithered over the wall into the brush, while Gloria assured me that the snake was very bad… Most Beninese are terrified of all snakes, not only because of venomous bites but for superstitious reasons as well. I was just happy to have it out of my house, but ten minutes later, Uncle showed up with a coup coup (machete), ready to snake hunt. I tried to tell him it was not necessary, but eventually I followed cautiously behind as he stalked through the brush and whistled a tune to “draw out the serpent.” Lucky for the snake, and much to my nature-respecting relief, we did not find him… Today, Google tells me the snake I encountered was not poisonous. But once again, it was a fun cultural experience to see the Beninese reaction to a snake, and comforting that so many people came to help me, despite their own fears.