Until a few days ago, the National Museum of Kenya was nothing but a landmark to me. I did not really think it was a place I needed to visit until I mentioned my fear of snakes to a friend and she said, “You know to conquer your fear you have to face your fear, right?” and I said, “Right,” and she said, “Well, we are visiting the Snake Park at the National Museum,” and I said, “Uhm, I am pretty sure the Bible was very clear on the kind of relationship we should have with snakes. We stay out of their way and they stay out of our way.”
But she was persuasive, so I said, “Let’s pick a date,” and we chose the coming weekend, which was around four days away.
On the eve of our trip to the National Museum, I could not sleep. Each time I closed my eyes I had visions of snakes, some coiling around my feet and some dangling from a tree, eyes fixed on me as if to ask, “Are you sure you want to meet us?”
I could have cancelled and I should have cancelled, but I am not one to not keep a promise. So the next day I dragged my sleep-deprived self to town to meet my friend and from there we headed to The National Museums. The price of conquering my fear was 300 bob, entrance fee, and at that moment I was not sure whether I wanted to conquer my fear first or learn about our history and heritage first. I chose history and heritage.
The museum is massive and beautiful. Each room you walk into manages to surprise you. The birds behind the glasses look so real up to now I am not sure whether they are real birds or not. We have butterflies beautifully arranged to form the map of Kenya and you just can’t help but stare. The early man is well represented in the museum and if you are a lover of paintings, there’s that too. It will take you about two hours to finish a tour of the museum, and I was sad when it was over because it was now time for the snakes.
We stepped out of the museum and descended many staircases down to the snake park. I wonder if the position of the snake park is a symbol of what it holds. At the entrance, you must scan your ticket at the security check to enter because they do not want people just coming in, without paying, to see snakes. Because we have people who love snakes so much they will do anything to be close to them and to take selfies with them.
My friend was so happy to see the snakes I secretly wondered if they reminded her of the old times at the Garden of Eden, back then when they were buddies, planning and conspiring to bring our stay in heaven to a grinding halt, sending us over here on earth to toil and to suffer. While I watched my every move, she was running her fingers over the glasses, and I could tell the snakes were looking at her like they have seen her before. We took a short break from the snakes to visit the aquarium, but she was eager to go back to the snakes.
I started getting comfortable, walking freely and even managing a smile. I was so focused on a snake far ahead that I did not know I was standing too close to a glass cage holding a massive snake that had placed its head on the glass, staring at me. So when I turned and our eyes met, my heart jumped to my throat and I let out a piercing scream while taking to my heels. When I made sure there was a safe distance between me and those snakes, I stopped to breathe, not knowing I had now entered the crocodiles’ territories. Crocodiles, my people, are ugly and fierce. They love playing the game of lets-pretend-we-are-dead, I suspect, so they can fool you into venturing closer before they snap your bones and swallowing you whole.
The tour finally came to an end and I was happy it was over. I must say though, the girls looked so comfortable around the snakes and I am sure that was the universe trying to tell us something, I just don’t know yet. Or I know, but I won’t say!