Diego and the Rattlesnake

By Mae Esther

The heavy fog of the early morning lifted slowly and finally Diego was able to see the road.

“Look papa, the fog is lifting!” He pointed excitedly as they neared the coffee plantation.

His father smiled and ruffled Diego’s dark hair, “It will keep on lifting as the sun comes up.” He stated.

Diego bounced from side to side as the old red truck maneuverer its way down the windy bumpy road. He grabbed onto his father’s arm and held old while the trunk continued bobbing up and down.

“You ok?” His father laughed.

Diego nodded vigorously. This was fun!

They were sitting in the back of the truck, he was on his way to work for the very first time and he was with his papa – he was definitely ok.

In the distance Diego saw the plantation come into view. He gasped.


It was huge.

Green with overflowing thick trees – it looked like a rainforest.

“Papa, it’s so gigantic.” Diego blue eyes rounded in shock.

The truck came to a sudden stop. Diego’s dad Don Jose jumped out of the truck and lifted Diego off.

Diego looked around as heaps of people grouped outside the big red gate of the property.

Everyone carried little bundles filled with food. Diego’s stomach rumbled. He has been too excited to eat anything for breakfast – now he wished he could have one of his mother’s tortillas filled with homemade cream cheese and hot goats milk. He licked his lips and walked over to his father, who was busy getting baskets and strings out the back of the truck.

“Papa, what time do we eat?” He asked covering his eyes from the brightness of the sun.

“About morning tea” His father said,

Diego’s face fell.

His father threw his head back and let out a good loud laugh, “Only teasing  Diego. You can eat before we start work.”

Diego exhaled and happily gobbled his food of fresh tortillas filled with his mama’s homemade cream cheese. In a little white cloth she had even packed him his favourite butter cookies.

Soon, the big red gates opened and out came the owner with two men. Diego listened carefully – he didn’t want to mess up. He had to work to help out his dad with the money.

Poor kids like him didn’t go to school – they had to work.

Sometimes, Diego wondered what it would be like to actually go to school like the rich kids from the big ranchos.

His dad had taken him to their house a few time – he taught them how to horse ride.

Diego would watch them come back from school in their dark blue pants and white dress shirt with a tie and white and blue backpacks.

“Diego!” His papa’s voice broke through his thought, “ready?”

Diego stared as the people entered through the gates. He nodded timidly.

Working felt fun but also a little scary.

They walked through the gates and Diego took in every single thing he saw. His father grabbed one of the baskets he carried, tied a rope in one corner and the other and tightened that around Diego’s shoulder.

The little basket sat on his hip.

He then gave him instructions on how to pick the coffee cherry.

“Papa, how do you know when it’s ready?” He asked his father.

“Well,” His dad walked over to a plant, “See here?” He pointed.

Diego nodded, “When it’s bright deep red then it’s ready and ripe. It’s ready to be harvest.”

Diego nodded and started to work. Some plants had white flowers and they smelled like orange. He liked the smell.

After a few hours of being on his feet, Diego started getting tired. The little basket was beginning to get heavy and filled with coffee cherry. The plants were on steep mountain slopes making him feel exhausted each time he climbed further up.

He drank water and wet his hot sweaty face.

His dad looked over and hollered, “Diego, take a break hijo.”

Diego exhaled and happily went to sit under a bushy green plant.

He took the basket off his shoulders and hips and placed it on the side – then he took his shoes off and let the cool breeze cool him down.

“Don’t walk around barefoot.” His father called out, “there’s too many dangerous snakes here.”

Diego nodded and looked around a little nervous. Dangerous snakes?

Soon the snakes were forgotten as he wriggled his toes happily.

Diego stood up and stretched his sore limbs. First day of work was really hard. He loved helping his papa, but, maybe school would be less tiring.

Just then he saw something flap by – he gasped. It was a Turquoise-browed Motmot.

The khaki, orange and light blue bird with the funny tail stopped and perched itself on a branch.

Diego knew about the Motmot bird because of its broken tail. Well, it wasn’t broken – it was just shaped different than other birds tails.

Diego moved closer to the bird.

His movements spooked it.

It flew away.

Then it stopped.

Diego continued following the bird – going further into the dense coffee plantation trees. Soon he was off the path and running on the bushy ground.

He forgot he wasn’t supposed to run barefoot in the bush.

All of a sudden Diego stopped to take a deep breath and stood still. The ground under him no longer hard – it was soft and cushioned. He almost felt like he was wearing shoes again. Why did the ground feel so soft and warm?

He looked down at his feet and saw himself standing on a thick diamond patterned scaly animal.

His breathing stopped and suddenly he couldn’t think, move or breathe.

A snake!

His heart beat faster and Diego felt suddenly very light headed.

Tears streamed down his eyes and the only thing he could do was wait.

Then someone lifted him off the ground and bolted down the windy busy path.

When they finally stopped Diego stared at his rescuer – his father.

“Dad!” Diego cried, “the snake, the snake.” He pointed and mumbled not being able to speak.

His dad nodded, “I saw it Diego, it was a rattlesnake!”

Diego’s eyes widened, he had heard about rattlesnakes.

His father looked at him and pointed to heaven, “God saved you.” He began, “a snake attacks without mercy.”

Diego nodded. Yes God had definitely saved him, he was sure of that!

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